Wednesday 19 November 2014

Que ne CERA pas, CERA

Why do you go to work?

No, really, take your time.

Because in all the commentary from Roger Sutton about how much he "deeply regrets" he didn't "find out earlier" that his behaviour at work, where he held ultimate power, was unacceptable, no one is talking about what work is for.

It's where we go to earn enough money to eat, pay our rent, look after ourselves and people we care about.  If we're lucky, we might be working somewhere which makes our heart sing, but ultimately it's about survival.

We do not go to work to listen to sexist jokes.  Outside of the sex industry, we do not go to work to have our bodies or our sexual attractiveness commented on or assessed.  We do not go to work to be patronised as women through the use of unwanted, demeaning words.  We do not go to work to be touched in any way by someone else without our consent. 

Some male commentators are terrified Roger Sutton's decision to resign will mean an end to ordinary workplace interaction

Here's the thing.  If Roger Sutton's behaviour is your idea of ordinary workplace interaction, then yes, you need to change.

We've had the excuses.  He's nice.  His wife likes him.  This is all a bit silly and goes a bit too far.  It's just hugs from the boss, isn't it?

In my first paid job, I sold sports gear in an old-fashioned sportshop. 

When I was 16, on a slow day over the holidays, my boss made a "joke" in front of  three others.  "You're going to have to go out the front, Luddite, and show a bit of leg."

I liked my boss.  I liked working with his son (my age), his daughter (a couple of years older) and his wife, who did the books.

I said "Fuck off." (Young, impetuous, not the suave control of language I have now).

There was a stunned silence.  I walked to the back of the shop, shocked, angry, upset, sure I was going to get fired.

He apologised to me later that day, and told me what he'd said had been inappropriate.  I apologised for telling him to fuck off, but said I'd not liked what he said.  It never happened again.

That's a good employer response to sexual harassment in the workplace.  Taking responsibility, apologising, and never doing it again.

Not giving an unauthorised account of your version of events to a press conference.  Not continuing to plug yourself all over the media.  Not talking about how hard you work in your very hard job.

Rape culture tells us that nice men don't do yucky stuff.  Rape culture tells us that victims lie and exaggerate.  Rape culture tells us feminists go too far with their overemphasis on consent and power.

Respect to the woman who made this complaint, it was brave and I have no doubt, necessary for her wellbeing at work.  Respect to my fellow bloggers, pushing back against rape culture.  Respect to everyone out there challenging their friends, family and colleagues when they hear this sexual harassment being minimised.

We don't go to work for this.


Deborah said...

Great post, Luddite Journo.

I had a long conversation with a senior person here in town (NB: not at my workplace), who told me that Sutton was just a bit old fashioned, and he really hadn't caught up on the way that workplaces were supposed to function these days.

Bloody hell. Sutton is only a couple of years older than me, and in my entire working career, this type of behaviour has NEVER been acceptable.

I'm astonished by the ease and glibness of people making excuses for him.

Anonymous said...

The more he opens his mouth the more I suspect he shouldn't open his mouth at all. Its looking increasingly like he's an immature and unprofessional twit. I'm becoming comfortable with his demise.