Lessons for Male Allies

Nov 18 2017 Published by under Feminist Musings

One episode of sexual harassment really stands out for me. I was 17, waiting tables to earn money during the summer. I worked at a family restaurant that did not sell alcohol, but it did attract a lot of drinkers who stopped for breakfast on the way home from the bar. We didn't close until 2 am on weekends to accommodate this population. I was a good waitress. Subtle flirtation with innuendo is my strong suit, and it brings good tips.

One night before a concert, I went out to a table of six twenty-somethings. As I set water and silverware on the table, one guy asked me, "Have you ever had sexual intercourse?" Those exact words.

This line was so brazen and clinical and unexpected I just stood there with my mouth open for a minute. I said I would be back to take their orders.

My manager was watching and asked what the guy said. When I told him, he threw the party out.

I was kind of surprised that he tossed them all out, but he told me no one was treating his employees like that.

What a great boss, and what a lesson for me! Even as a minimum wage waitress, I was more valuable than these inappropriate customers!

All bosses need to follow this example. No customer (or employee) is so valuable to a business to allow others to suffer.

3 responses so far

  • Zuska says:

    Wow, I was not expecting such a good end to this tale. I'm so sorry you had that experience, and so glad your boss did the right thing.

  • David says:

    I'm genuinely curious where the line is between "subtle flirtation with innuendo" and "brazen". I'm not trying to be critical, but it seems like this line would be different for everyone. I fell like every time I stick my foot in my mouth, it's because my idea of what is acceptable is different than the person I'm talking to. And sometimes it feels like the line changes based on topic (or identity). To use a slightly related example, movie ratings in the US treat sex and violence very differently, where a little sex is equated to a lot of violence.

    • whizbang says:

      Subtle flirtation is more like asking if I'm taken or some such thing. Part of the brazenness here was that there was no subtlety and he asked it after I introduced myself and set napkins on the table.
      The line may be different for different people. I suspect I'm far more tolerant than most, and that's part of why my boss knew something was really off.

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