7. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
1

Several women reported incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace involving the display and use of pornography. For example, one woman said:

I put up with it for about a week and it finally got to the point where I could not longer tolerate sitting there and realizing that all of these men were there, I felt totally naked in front of these men. The only thing they talked about during lunch period was women, their old ladies, their girl friends, and all their conquests of the weekend.

I got to the point where I couldn't put up with it any more. And being one of the only two women on the job and being rather new at it and not knowing that I had any alternatives, I got pissed off one day and ripped all the pictures off the wall. Well, it turned out to be a real unpopular move to do. I came back in at lunch time and half the pictures were back up again, they pulled them out of boxes and stuck them on the wall and proceeded to call me names. And just basically call me names or otherwise ignore me.[917]

Another woman wrote:

I was working as a telephone repairwoman for Southern Bell in Florida. Porn was everywhere. They use it to intimidate you, to keep women out of their territory. They had pin-ups in the workrooms. Male workers would draw pornographic pictures of women workers in the cross-boxes and write comments about what we would do in bed. One day I went to the supply room to get some tools. The inside of the room was covered with pornography. The guy who ran it shoved a photograph at me of a woman's rear end with her anus exposed and asked, "isn't this you?" I was humiliated and furious.[918]

A woman testified before another body:

When I got on the job, three of the trades had set up a nice little shack and had lunch there. And it was a real shock when I walked in because three of the four walls in the room were completely decorated with pictures out of various magazines, Hustler, Playboy, Penthouse, Oui, all of those. Some of them I would have considered regular pinups but some of them were very, very explicit, showing women with their legs spread wide and men and women performing sex acts and women in bondage. It was very uncomfortable for me to go down there and have dinner and lunch with about twenty men and here is me facing all these pictures and hearing all these men talking about all the wonderful things they did on the weekend with all of these women. I put up with it for about a week and it finally got to the point where I could no longer tolerate sitting there and realizing that all of these men were there, I felt totally naked in front of these men.[919]

Another woman wrote:

A working woman called the Pornography Resource Center in May 1984 to report that her employer had called her into his office, pushed her down on the floor, ripped her dress, taken a gun out of his pocket, and stuffed it into her vagina. A pornographic picture on the lunchroom wall showed a woman sucking a gun."

"Testimony to Women Against Pornography, Feb. 1985. Many of the complaints received by Amici are from women workers in nontraditional jobs. The following is typical:

"I've been a brakewoman for the railroad for almost nine years.... I've seen pornographic pictures of a woman with spread thighs being raped by a huge dismembered penis with my name below."[920]

Similar to the harassment reported above, women identified pornography as a tool to continue sexual harassment. Women stated that pornography continued to perpetuate the harassment and alienation.

After the LEAP Offices and State had written letters to send out to these various employers, my boss, the man who owned the company, called me up one day and said, "Look, I heard you are having a little trouble down there, why don't you just kind of calm down a little bit. Don't make such a mess. We don't need any trouble down there, just calm down, just ignore it:' I said, "Hey, I can't ignore it, I don't have to, I can't, it is already done." A couple of days later they got the letter and they were told that this did not comply with the action guidelines.[921]

Notes

  1. Public Hearings before the Minneapolis City Council, Session II, (Dec. 1983), p. 86.
  2. Letter to Women Against Pornography submitted to the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography.
  3. Public Hearings before Minneapolis City Council, Session II, (Dec. 1983), pp. 85-86.
  4. Letter from Montana woman to Women Against Pornography submitted to the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography.
  5. Public Hearings before Minneapolis City Council, Vol. I1, (Dec. 1983), p. 88.