Friday, November 17, 2006

Never thought I'd be "that" woman


Little ambivalent right now.

I think I mentioned earlier a coworker who sits in front of me and keeps asking me out. And that it made me shudder.

Haven't been talking about that much here. I very much took Heather's warning on that subject- blogging about your job will and can get you fired, and that would be a scary little situation for me. I mentioned it to some other girls in the office, but never anyone who had direct ...jurisdiction? over this guy. Today I make an exception that insha'Allah won't have a high cost.

Today I traveled for work and got to see my old, awesome, boss. He knew something was up, something was bothering me, and finally just asked and waited for me to give up the answers. So I told him (in a room full of people, mind you- they just weren't paying attention to our particular conversation, alhamdullIllah).

He said I was being way too nice. That he'd have said something a long time ago. Then he named some people that he hoped I'd talk to.
I said, "I just didn't think it was that bad. I mean, he wasn't... violent. And I don't want to be responsible for him losing his job over this."

Bossguy looked at me and said, "Twenny, it is. It is violent. You shouldn't have to put up with that. You're being too humane for what the situation warrants. And I won't say anything, because I understand you're asking me for advice, you don't report to me anymore. But I think you should talk to (another boss). He should be... that's totally against the policy of (the place where we work)."

I nearly cried. Didn't, by the grace of the One. I felt so. relieved. That I wasn't over-reacting. That I really should have said something a while ago. To have it off of my mind. I felt guilty for not saying something earlier and guilty for being the object of this man's attentions. I made my clothes baggier, avoided talking to this man. And I'm muhejebah. Someone (this week- who was that? Please comment) mentioned that hijab is supposed to be the great protector. And I, in my way, went right along with the perception. I'm covered, I act modestly around this man, so this can't be harrassment. Audhubillah alHaqq al Aziz.

This has been bothering me. I've been coming in to work either really late or really early because of wanting to avoid this guy- but not on purpose. I've been beating myself up and wondering what was wrong with me- I'm NEVER like this, I'm just not. I didn't realize, myself, until I told. This has been a weight on me. Thank GOD the folk at my (small) office are so responsive, so supportive.

When I was younger, in high school, there was this commercial where this guy was being blatantly smarmy, and the woman goes, "That's sexual harassment, and I don't have to take it!" We used to burst into giggles at that commercial. It seemed so unrealistic. And it was- though I did end up, um, letting the man have what for (we used to say 'cussin' out' but I didn't cuss...again subhanAllah), I didn't report him as I should have. That's my fault.

I need to think about why I let that situation go on for so long.

Part of me now has a whole new level of appreciation for women who undergo any sort of discomfort at all just because someone else is giving them inappropriate attention.

For anyone who reads this, woman OR man: It is ESSENTIAL to take action. Stand up. Speak out. Don't wait. Even about something as petty and retarded and guilt-generating as having someone repeatedly asking you out. If you deal with fallout, it's better than dealing with the effects internally. Let there be light shed on EVERY situation like this.


I know and have said before that we women are socialized to "be nice". For the most part, I believed that I had escaped that snare, that I speak my mind and say what I want, and act according to a situation. My eyes have been opened and I'm more aware of just how hard it is to get away from being the "nice girl" for my own good. It took being pushed for me to seek help, but I finally did so. I've been promised (and I believe) that I won't have to deal with this situation again. So. The man will undoubtedly be disciplined and possibly fired. It's not my fault, but I spoke up. I will never stand to hear a whistleblower or woman criticized for their voices again.

I just never thought I'd be 'that' woman.



  1. Allah akbar! We are strong and will not be cowed down.

  2. i think we all find ourselves places we never imagined we could possibly end up from time to time. best wishes.

  3. If this person does get fired, I do not think you should feel guilty - you're doing the men and women who currently work for him - and the ones who will in the future - a huge favor. Most of all, you're doing him a favor.

    And all will work out, inshAllah.

  4. I need some advise here. Am a man. I have commented about the appearances of 3 female colleagues at work on separate occassions in a one-to-one setting at their cubicle - one for her hair, one
    for her toe nails and one for her smile. None of them seemed disturbed. The hair-lady actually changed her hairstyle after I commented (I said her hairstyle reminded me of Michael Jackson). My question is, do you you think I should withhold comments like this lest it be taken wrongly?


  5. I know how you feel. But sexual harassment is now a recognized problem that women experience. If you are someone he harassed you wont be the last. I'm glad you feel better about your feelings. You have a rght to them. And you have the right to be free from harassment at work.

    Love your blog btw! :)