I want to talk about an issue that is actually more than one issue. I work at an MNC and am often labelled as a ‘militant feminist’ becos I do not tolerate staring, ogling, singing and any other form of workplace harassment. I’m known to make a big hue and cry about things that i feel are wrong. Staring is a something that REALLY gets to me and what upsets me is the fact that most people dont want to believe that staring IS harassment.
Coming to the point, I will be shifting to a new floor in the office building. I went to scout the new office space with a couple of my colleagues and the first thing i noticed were eyes…leery eyes everywhere..staring at us girls as if they have never seen girls in their life (common story…i know). One guy was impertinent enough to actually nudge his friends and divert their attention to us as we walked by. And these people were not teenagers just out of college…they were all 20 something-ers with ample work ex. What was sad was that one my male colleagues was rather disgusted at this sight, saying that all his life in the company, he never witnessed this sort of behaviour.
The real point being that my new workstation is at the extreme corner. It isolates me from my team, but I will be in good view for all the other teams, and perhaps those creepy men. My back maybe towards them, but I will be seen by most of them anyway. To add to that, I will have the added irritation of sitting next to a lady who loves talking about her husband day and night..about what shampoo he bought for her, what conditioner, how he once dug his nail into her hand because he was angry, how he has taught her so much, how never spoke to her for six months because he suspected she was having an affair, how her silence made her win his love back..
Keeping all this in mind, my first instinct was to get to speak to my supervisor and get my seat changed. (The way things work in my company, you need an approval for sneezing). I do not want to go through the trauma of having eyes looking at me everyday…I do not want strangers coming up with vague excuses to strike up a conversation on the pretext of ‘friendship’, I do not want to see men walking up and down the passage near me, giving me seedy smiles (a sight I have witnessed way too often) i do not want to hear about the life of a woman who is CLEARLY in denial, I have tried helping her, listening to her, but her ‘everything is fine’ attitude depresses me big time, and I know i cannot be of any help to her, because as I said, she is in denial.
On the other hand, am I being a real wimp when i seek out ‘escape routes’ like the one above? Will I ever learn to become thick skinned like the other girls who were with me today, who have become so accustomed to workplace harassment; they did not even see it? Will I ever learn to focus on my work despite knowing there are probably 50 eyes looking at me? Without being paranoid about why that guy is staring at me? And believe me I can get paranoid! Will I be able to listen to the denial lady’s stories without letting them affect me so much?? So much so that I want to say away from her (perhaps I also prefer to be in denial) Will I ever become a stronger person if I let every little thing affect me so much?
So should I get my workstation shifted or not? Please advice