Sexual Harassment: Female Bosses Do It, Too
Nine years ago, long before I was the city mouse that I am today, I was a prudish young thing fresh off the bus from New Hampshire. I had come to New York City, like so many others do, to fulfill my dreams. But, like so many others, I had to take the first job that came my way. I became the office manager for a jewelry company — it was the only place that called me for an interview out of the dozens I’d sent resumes.
I was hired on the spot.
The small office held four designers, a saleswoman, and me, with a 12-line phone despite the fact that we never got more than a few calls a day. I was paid 20k for my work — an obnoxiously low amount even nine years ago — and my desk was void of a computer as it was decided that a computer would distract me from answering the phone. My days were long, to say the least. Oh so long.
I kept to myself, happily so, and because of my placement in the office, I was removed from the rest. The only person with whom I had any contact was the saleswoman who was also my direct boss. We’d occasionally chitchat about the weather and our weekends, and that was the extent of our personal involvement.
A few months after I started, my birthday rolled around. The company bought me lunch, and my boss called me into her office to give me a gift. Since I was making very little money I had hoped it would be a gift card for food or something, but the package in the bag was too big for that unless, of course, she was one of those tricky wrappers who delight in putting tiny things into big boxes. Either way, I was excited for the gift.
Then I opened it.
To my surprise and horror, it was a pink vibrator in a box adorned with a half naked woman. Before I could even begin to process the situation, my boss took the box from my hands, opened it and proceeded to show me all the different speeds it had, because she had the “same one at home and I love it.” I was mortified.
At first, I didn’t tell a soul.
I spent the night trying to figure out the big “why?” We didn’t have the type of relationship that would warrant such a gift, and although she had told me in passing about the guy she was dating, she didn’t know anything about me. Although I’d go on to write intimately about my sex life years later for different websites, at that point the gift of a vibrator from my boss just seemed wrong… and creepy, and bizarre, and I never used it and gave it to my roommate.
Over the next couple months, things got even weirder. After the initial push for details about how the vibrator made me feel and, thankfully, my ability to turn the tables so she’d discuss her life instead, she started prying into my sex life. It wasn’t done in a friends-debriefing-over-brunch-about-sex sort of way because, for starters, we didn’t have that relationship. It was as if she was trying to compare notes and one-up me. My sex life had barely begun at the point, but what little fodder I had for story time wasn’t about to be shared with my boss, no matter how much she pressed for information.
So, instead, she gave me a play by play of her bedroom behavior, and with every other word, a part of me died inside. Could she not see I was blushing? That I was visibly, not even subtly, uncomfortable? Did she not understand that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t appropriate work time conversation? Does she really think I need to know how much she loves anal sex?
Then she and the guy she was seeing ended things, and it just got even weirder.
In between giving me the gross and sticky details of her one-night stands, she also gave me “advice” on how I could land a man and how I should really showcase my “titties” (she always used that word), if I were going to ever get some ass in New York City. I’m the first to admit that I have a great rack, but to have my boss acknowledge it and tell me how to “get those titties out there” was way outside the bounds of normalcy.
Follow BlogHer on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/BlogHer-28615