Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Crossing the line.

Over the past couple weeks, I've come to recognize that there is a difference between being sexually explicit and being sexually harassing at the work place.

I work with a bunch of boys. A couple of them are older than me, but they're essentially all boys, and they're essentially all obsessed with their penises: where they've been, where they're going, what kind of talk they need to have with them to make them stay out of trouble. I could probably draw an accurate picture of all their various organs, I've heard them described so many times. And I can't count the number of times I hear the phrase "makin' with the humpin'" in a day, I really can't.

But the surprising thing is--I can't say it really bothers me. Every once in awhile I find myself pulled into a (good-natured) argument about stupid things they say, and wow, I really wish the intellectual level of the kitchen conversation could be pulled a little higher sometimes, but mostly, the punk rock boys really entertain me. I think my friends would be shocked at some of the things I laugh at. Even I didn't know it was so difficult to offend me.

Over the past couple of weeks, though, some of the talk around me has set my teeth on edge. One of the guys has been specifically teasing me, presumably because I'm the only woman there. I know he's not really serious when he's hitting on me, but I've told him to knock it off several times, and he just won't. If I get mad when he starts talking about how much he wants me, he just laughs. It particularly pisses me off when he starts saying sexual things to me in Spanish, because I'm the only one who understands them and he can be a lot more free with his propositions. It got bad enough yesterday--I got mad enough--that one of the punk rock dough boys told him to shut up, but that only worked for about two minutes, and he was back making suggestions about how we could get sweaty together.

I'm not quite sure what the difference is--yeah, I told two of the guys to shut up today because they were comparing penis sizes and I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW, but it didn't upset me. Five minutes with this other guy, and I want to quit my job because there doesn't seem to be any recognition on his part that he's crossed some sort of invisible line from funny to threatening. Today he came in with a broken hand and maybe a broken arm, and I found myself thinking, "Good!" That's a bad sign, I think, being happy that a co-worker is suffering. I'm not really sure what to do about the situation, except get another job.

I wish.

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