When this woman’s male colleague groped her in the office, she knew exactly what to do…
In shocking research released last year, it was revealed that nearly two thirds of young women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
After surveying 1,533 people, researchers from the Everyday Sexism Project revealed that one in three women have been subject to unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature – and that physical harassment is horrifying common. Nearly a quarter of women have been touched when they didn’t want to while working – and 12% had experienced unwanted sexual touching or attempts to kiss them.
And, worryingly, many women didn’t feel as if they could take action against their harassers.
The study revealed that 79% of women who have been sexually harassed at work did not tell their employers it was happening, as they were concerned it would affect their career prospects – or that they wouldn’t be believed.
The same was true of this Reddit user, who admits she felt utterly “defeated” when one of her male colleagues began touching her inappropriately in the office, because she knew “no one would believe me”.
“[Ted] kept ‘bumping’ into me,” she recalls on the discussion site. “A brush on the butt, on the side of my breasts. It kept happening and he played innocent always passing by with no eye contact.”
However, when her sleazy colleague “one upped himself” and gave her bum a “full on pinch”, something snapped.
“I walked by him and turned my butt right next to his hand and just full on farted,” she says. “Loud and angry. It’s gross, I know. But if he’s going to make me feel gross and ‘claim my ass’, then I’m going to make him feel gross and ‘claim his hand’.”
The woman recalls how her colleague “proceeded to freak out” – so much so that her boss overheard the encounter.
“[My boss] brought us both in[to his office]m” she says, where he began asking them questions about the incident. It soon transpired that she was not the only woman who had been victimised by her “handsy” colleague.
Ted attempted to defend himself by claiming that he had only touched her inappropriately “as a joke”.
“As soon as he said that, I was told to excuse myself and he’s currently cleaning out his desk.
“F**k you, Ted… no more will you look at my ass as sexual, but a fart box that has forever claimed your tiny hand.”
Naturally, the people of Reddit loved her story, and her post was soon flooded with comments:
However, while this story ends well – and is certainly amusing – it is most definitely the exception to the rule: many women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace feel unable to speak to their employers about it, assuming it to be an incident of minor importance. Others feel forced to change their work habits, attempting to avoid certain places or times in a bid to avoid their harasser.
No wonder, then, that TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has called upon employers to protect their staff from “undermining and humiliating” sexual harassment.
“[Your staff] must have sufficient training and robust policies in place to protect their workforce,” she told the Huffington Post.
O’Grady also demanded that the government take action, saying: “Ministers must cut tribunal fees and must make employers legally responsible for protecting their staff from harassment by customers and clients, as well as colleagues.”
A government spokesman added: “No one should experience harassment or abuse of any kind in the workplace – the law on this is very clear and employers must take swift action to tackle this issue.”