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Has Achieved Nirvana
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There is one element of false accusations of sexual harassment that may be somewhat different. If someone alleges that you beat them up, in many instances, they'd be able to demonstrate some sort of physical effect (bruises, cuts, scrapes, broken bones). Not always, of course ... especially in instances of domestic violence, that sort of physical evidence may be absent ... but in other cases. Or, if someone claims that you robbed them, they'd be asked for what you took, and perhaps for evidence that they actually owned the items in question.

In cases of sexual harassment, it's very often just one person's word against another's. There may be no other evidence at all, or maybe there's just circumstantial evidence.

And then there's the issue of misunderstandings. When someone hits someone else, that's pretty damn clear. But if someone stands too close ... how close is too close? What if one person says they were only a few inches away, but the other one says that they were a foot or more away? (I've had to measure the distance between a desk and a wall to prove to someone that, no, it really wasn't possible that they were standing two feet away, even if they were sure that they were.) What if the alleged harasser is somewhere on the spectrum, and doesn't understand personal boundaries? Or, if someone claims that someone else was staring at them ... what if the person was staring but didn't realize they were doing it, or what if they weren't but the other person thought they were? When there's an allegation of sexual harassment, there's a lot more chance of a Rashomon-type situation, where one person perceives a situation one way, and a second person perceives it differently.

Saying that "it just isn't that hard to keep your hands to yourself and to not make suggestive or inappropriate remarks" trivializes and misunderstands the range of situations that occur in the real world. Sexual harassment can occur without any touching, and without any remark that anyone would think is either suggestive or inappropriate. The touching cases are easy, and the suggestive remarks cases are easy (except, of course, for denials that the behavior in question actually happened). The most difficult gray areas are along the lines of "He was staring at my chest!" "No I wasn't!" Or "He was standing too close over my shoulder!" "I was just trying to watch what she was typing, we were on deadline!"
 
Posts: 41799 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
Picture of Steve Miller
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It doesn’t help that my office is in my house. There is no way I am doing a mentor meeting in my office with any woman, even if I would with a guy.

It’s a problem and no one wants my opinion on how to fix it.


--------------------------------
Life is short. Play with your dog.

 
Posts: 26511 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
czarina
Minor Deity
Picture of piqué
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Miller:
Define “inappropriate.”

I’m in a group where I am a mentor to various younger folks on business matters. One of the things we are supposed to discuss is “dress for success.”

There is no way to have that conversation without going off in to the weeds. I’m not doing it.


In appropriate, in a business setting, is making any comments about someone's personal appearance. It's asking questions or making comments about someone's personal life. Asking if they have a boyfriend, complimenting them on their haircut, etc.

As a career mentor, why can't you suggest that they wear a suit or make sure their clothes are ironed, or don't wear jeans and a tee shirt? Or show pictures of what dressed for success looks like? How is that off into the weeds?


--------------------------------
fear is the thief of dreams

 
Posts: 19101 | Registered: 18 May 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Trust me it is. “You look sharp today and you’re gonna crush your presentation” is grounds for dismissal in many workplaces these days.

And so I say nothing. And they learn nothing.


--------------------------------
Life is short. Play with your dog.

 
Posts: 26511 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of QuirtEvans
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Miller:
Trust me it is. “You look sharp today and you’re gonna crush your presentation” is grounds for dismissal in many workplaces these days.

And so I say nothing. And they learn nothing.


That, right there, is the issue that some people want to pretend doesn’t exist.
 
Posts: 41799 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Pinta & the Santa Maria
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One of the differences with accusing someone of sexual assault, as opposed to other types of crimes and accusations, is the extremely vicious attacks on the accuser him/herself. I'm struggling to think of another crime where the concern about personal attacks is so high that people decide to simply not report the crime at all.

The only thing I can come up with are individual situations, where the accuser fears for their life based on a personal relationship with the accused. It's interesting that domestic abuse fits this description, another crime that's heavily weighted toward women as the victims, men as the aggressors.

Yes, you can whatabout this to death, but the statistics are heavily on my side.

For this reason, I am skeptical of concerns about throngs of false accusers waiting in the wings for just the right moment to attack someone. Not when we're talking about sexual abuse.
 
Posts: 31661 | Location: West: North and South! | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Does This Avatar Make My Butt Look Big?

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If a superior told me I look sharp, I would not appreciate it. No one in my workplace comments on a colleague's appearance. If you want to say a colleague looks sharp, comment on their professionalism instead.

Regarding mentoring women about their clothing, just keep it general. Beyond that, do members of the opposite sex really feel qualified to opine on the details?

It is so refreshing to navigate the workplace without men feeling free to judge and comment and "appreciate" what I'm wearing all day long.

Right now, there is a man I must interact with professionally, and I think he is interested . I am not. And it is awesome that I needn't police everything I say to avoid giving him ideas. He is probably terrified about crossing a line.

Good.
 
Posts: 18168 | Location: A cluttered house in Metro D.C. | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
Originally posted by Nina:
One of the differences with accusing someone of sexual assault, as opposed to other types of crimes and accusations, is the extremely vicious attacks on the accuser him/herself. I'm struggling to think of another crime where the concern about personal attacks is so high that people decide to simply not report the crime at all.

The only thing I can come up with are individual situations, where the accuser fears for their life based on a personal relationship with the accused. It's interesting that domestic abuse fits this description, another crime that's heavily weighted toward women as the victims, men as the aggressors.

Yes, you can whatabout this to death, but the statistics are heavily on my side.

For this reason, I am skeptical of concerns about throngs of false accusers waiting in the wings for just the right moment to attack someone. Not when we're talking about sexual abuse.


That's a very good point, re: attacking the accuser.

But, again, there don't need to be throngs of false accusations for someone to have an irrational fear. The number of people who die in airplane crashes is about 1 death for every 50 billion passenger miles. I'm not sure the rate of false accusations is comparatively smaller than that. And yet, some people are petrified about the safety of airplanes.
 
Posts: 41799 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
If a superior told me I look sharp, I would not appreciate it. No one in my workplace comments on a colleague's appearance. If you want to say a colleague looks sharp, comment on their professionalism instead.

Regarding mentoring women about their clothing, just keep it general. Beyond that, do members of the opposite sex really feel qualified to opine on the details?

It is so refreshing to navigate the workplace without men feeling free to judge and comment and "appreciate" what I'm wearing all day long.

Right now, there is a man I must interact with professionally, and I think he is interested . I am not. And it is awesome that I needn't police everything I say to avoid giving him ideas. He is probably terrified about crossing a line.

Good.


You don't have to police everything you say, but you are glad that he has to police everything he says, because you believe he's terrified.

The fear has changed sides, and you're happy about it.
 
Posts: 41799 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Pinta & the Santa Maria
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We both agree that these fears are irrational for 99% of the people in a workplace.

I assume that we both agree that legislating or writing policy to support those irrational fears, like the firm did at the beginning of this thread, is stoopid?
 
Posts: 31661 | Location: West: North and South! | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Does This Avatar Make My Butt Look Big?

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Oh yes. The tables have been turned, but it is now a level playing field. We both have to act like professionals.

I don't have to find a way to work into the conversation that I am married to "pre discourage him, and i don't have to worry that he will whip it out.

Works for me.
 
Posts: 18168 | Location: A cluttered house in Metro D.C. | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
Oh yes. The tables have been turned, but it is now a level playing field. We both have to act like professionals.

I don't have to find a way to work into the conversation that I am married to "pre discourage him, and i don't have to worry that he will whip it out.

Works for me.


Are you terrified? If you aren't terrified of what he might do, but he is terrified of what you might do, then the playing field is not level.

It works for you because he is probably terrified (your word, not mine), and you are not. And you've said that it's "good" that he's terrified. Based on what you've said, it seems that you are OK with some people being terrified of what others might do, as long as you aren't the one who is terrified. Or, perhaps, what you mean is that as long as the people who who share your gender aren't terrified.

If someone doesn't like to feel a particular way, but is affirmatively glad that someone else feels that way ... what's the right word for that? My vocabulary seems to be failing me, maybe you can help.
 
Posts: 41799 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Nina:
I assume that we both agree that legislating or writing policy to support those irrational fears, like the firm did at the beginning of this thread, is stoopid?



I don't think firms are doing this as policy, I think its just personal practice of a few interviewees.
 
Posts: 30211 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
Originally posted by Nina:
We both agree that these fears are irrational for 99% of the people in a workplace.

I assume that we both agree that legislating or writing policy to support those irrational fears, like the firm did at the beginning of this thread, is stoopid?


I might be a little more compassionate. Would you tell someone who is petrified of flying that refusing to get on a plane is stupid, because only one person in every 50 billion passenger miles dies?

Nevertheless, I do agree that you can't write legislation or corporate policy to accommodate irrational fears. You can, however, help people to overcome them. In a compassionate way, of course (not, for example, by saying "buck up, buttercup"). And, depending on the circumstances, my John Madden story, for example, companies might do that.
 
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There's an interesting analogy I thought of.

I behave this way, to an extent anyway, with kids.

I studiously avoid being alone with any of my kid's friends, solely to minimize the already tiny possibility of some false accusation. There aren't that many instances in which it changes my behavior, but there have been some, especially as a stay-at-home dad.


It is an interesting analogy because (1) like #metoo, false accusations are presumably quite rare but (2) since the accusation itself is (socially) fatal it makes sense to do what you can to minimize the risk. And (3) to say "just try not to be an asshole" misses the point.
 
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