So, I work at a movie theatre—an awesome non-profit art house theatre. It’s the best job I’ve ever had in so many ways. The organization, the people I work with, the customers, the movies, and the snacks are all amazing. I could go on, but I don’t know how much I can technically say about my job. I’ll ask my boss.
Anyway, there’s a movie coming out that has graphic sexual and violent content. Cool. It looks like a good movie. But, unfortunately, similar movies have brought out creeps.
In preparation for the movie my boss sent out an email going over the company’s sexual harassment policies. And tbh it was the best work email I’ve ever read.
Among other things, the email said: If anyone is making you uncomfortable, you are empowered to tell them to leave; If you don’t know how to handle a situation, please call [the managers]; If you, for any reason, think you are in danger, in any way, call the police.
I’ve never felt more comfortable in a work environment. As anyone who has worked in the service industry knows, sexual harassment is a daily occurrence. It’s not just common, it’s expected. You learn to brush it off pretty quickly. Smile. Look away. Act calm. Humor them. It’s easier than starting a fuss about “nothing.”
But it’s not nothing. It’s being expected to smile when men thrice my age make sexually suggestive comments towards me. It’s feeling unsafe cleaning tables or theaters without another employee. It’s having to work with people who make me consistently uncomfortable. It’s one more place where I have to stay vigilant.
My past employers have had either shitty sexual harassment policies (designed to keep the company from pesky lawsuits) or no sexual harassment policies at all. It’s terrifying. It’s gross. Employees have to learn to deal with it.
And companies that do have sexual harassment policies, in my experience, rarely cover employee-customer harassment.
I’m lucky to work in an environment that’s positive and “progressive.” Though, it really really shouldn’t be so crazy that a company addresses sexual harassment in a thoughtful way.
It’s also so relieving to be able to have open conversations with my bosses about issues like workplace harassment. Because most women I know have handfuls of workplace sexual harassment stories, most of which involve a shitty boss/HR rep/company policies. These experiences just add to the smorgasbord of sexual harassment stories women collect over their lives. Guh.
[This isn’t taking into account sexual harassment against male employees–which is discussed and addressed even less.]
If you haven’t read your employers sexual harassment policy, I recommend that you do. I didn’t fully realize how terrible my previous employers have been until I encountered a good sexual harassment policy. If your employer has a crap policy call them out! As long as you don’t think you’ll get fired.
Anyway, fuck the patriarchy.