Last week, Emelia Holden’s takedown of a customer who grabbed her ass while she was working in a restaurant went viral. Good. Maybe a couple of dudes will learn something from it — I know that I’m tired of men bothering me at work, and the reactions I’ve seen to Holden have been overwhelmingly positive.
The thing is, a lot of men cross a line with me when I’m at work. And if you’re a woman in the service industry, I’m sure it happens to you, too. When the Brock Turner case first hit the news, plenty of men were pissed (and rightly so!). Raping a passed out woman behind a dumpster is objectively wrong. It’s something that most men would never do. But pointing out that the Brock Turner case isn’t the standard of what’s right and wrong sure does upset some men.
But just because you would never rape a passed out woman behind a dumpster doesn’t mean you’ve never taken advantage of a woman.
Just because you don’t actually catcall on the street doesn’t mean you’ve never made a classmate, coworkers, stranger on the bus, or a random woman trying do her job massively uncomfortable.
Have you made explicit sexual comments or jokes to your waitress, the woman selling you shoes at Nordstrom, the promo girl pouring you a free sample at the liquor store (ME!!!), or the bartender making your drink? No? Well, have you asked them out, and then pressed on after getting a “I have a boyfriend” (our best bet of shutting it down, true or not)?
When we’re on the clock and you are harassing us, you are holding us hostage with your words and the fear that telling you no will escalate the situation — something that can result in our death, or our firing, or other physical harm.
I joke that I have Resting Bitch Face because I’m so annoyed with men in my work life that I don’t have the strength to deal with them during my personal time. But honestly, I’m not so sure it’s a joke anymore.
A lot of what I do at work is hand out free booze. “Would you like to drink a sample of [whatever brand]?” I ask people as they walk into the liquor store. Normal people say yes or no. Assholes say, “no, but I want a drink of you,” or “I’ll take a sample if I get to go on a date with you.”
First of all, idiot, it’s a free sample for you. Why would I go on a date with you because you took a free sample? THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. I didn’t say, “in exchange for $500 would you like a sample?” NOPE. I don’t give a fuck if you try it or not, and honestly, I take the booze home with me after, so it’s more for me if you don’t want to try it.
I’ve never body slammed anyone, but this is a pretty typical conversation:
Me, pointing at my 4 alcohols: what would you like to try?
Me: That’s not an option. Which of the alcohols would you like to try?
Customer: Any of them.
Me: Here you go. And just so you know, that was incredibly rude and you shouldn’t speak to women like that.
Customer: What was rude?
Me: When I asked you want you wanted and you said me. That’s disrespectful and no way to talk to women.
Customer: That isn’t rude. It’s a compliment.
Me: That’s not a compliment and you shouldn’t speak that way.
Customer: It’s a compliment. Get used to it. I will never buy your alcohol. Blah blah blah I’m a douche nozzle.
I also work conventions. I stand in a booth, generally in a pantsuit, and talk to people as a way to get them into the booth. I have been given enough hotel room keys by attendees that I have toyed with the idea of using the keys to later rob the assholes who hand them to me.
Usually when someone says something suggestive to me, or hands me a key, I just stare back at them, wide eyed, and ask, “what do you mean?? I don’t get it.” I continue until they’re uncomfortable — and they always get uncomfortable. Usually they shake their heads, sigh, maybe call me a bitch.
Isn’t it weird? How men can say something gross and shitty to/about me, but get upset with me when I ask them to explain it?
What makes men do this? Why can’t you just take your free drink and go away? You’re an asshole.