Todd is one of my longtime colleagues from another department at my company. We had been friendly at work and over lunches for several years. When Todd was divorcing the mother of his three boys, he suddenly started leaning on for support, pouring out his heart and dreams. I thought we were becoming good friends but he was grooming me as a romantic possibility. I objected since I had a boyfriend already but he kept coming on strong during and after hours. When I stopped answering his calls at work and on my cellphone, I began receiving a bunch of cryptic, flirtatious anonymous text messages. I ignored them for months. After I asked the anonymous texter who it was, Todd finally admitted in text it was him.
Rashard is a Manager in the Standards & Practices Department but our Boss is the Director Arturo. Rashard takes every random interaction and sighting of me at work as an opportunity to run weak game. I take it and go on about my business. Lately weird gossip about me in swirling around the office. A story that made no sense had it that I was on vacation with our boss Arturo in Jamaica. The only flaw was that I was in the office all week. Then Rashard starts using work correspondence as a platform to send me love notes; all his memos to me were signed “xxoo, Rashard.” So I talk to Arturo and get the “boys will be boys” speech. So I send a memo to Human Resources that I hope will put a stop to the antics.
What makes a grown man want to pursue a woman who doesn’t want him? Like, after they hear “no,” they figure you’re just having trouble doing what they want so they’ll repeat their ask. The fix is in based simply on power dynamics. Just being a man. Just being friends with the boss. Because they can. Harassers believe these facts and their will is enough to justify harassing you.
For anyone going through harassment, you law awake wondering what’s it gonna take to make your refusal real so they back off? My Mama says curse them out. Other victims of harassment say claim you have a significant other, which is sometimes effective if you do in fact have one. Sometimes the answer is letting another grown man get in the harasser’s face. No threats, no violence — just a strong male presence. It could be an uncle, a cousin, even a friendly neighborhood ex-con. Whenever one of my office harassers lurked around my desk, my gay male friend would come along and pinch the harassers tuchis. Take that, sexist patriarchy! Hey! – sometimes ya gotta fight fire with fire.
I wish I could say Human Resources was a viable, constructive option. But those “seatfillers” have their own agenda: 1.) keeping their jobs without making waves and 2.) labelling and offloading you as a troublemaker. I anticipate your skepticism on this but see how far even winners of lawsuit$ get in their actual careers.
You can ask nicely for a harasser to leave you alone. You can get a restraining order. And none of it will do any good with the hardcore harasser. You probably will have their undesired attention until they find a new victim.
Watch your back and be safe. And please realize a lot of people in society do not play by the rules. They do, however, believe it’s their God-given right to force you to do what they want. True talk.