On Monday a colleague who sits behind me felt it was appropriate to send me an instant message telling me he was bummed that I wouldn’t be sitting in his line of vision anymore.
He basically told me he looks at me from behind while I work. Disgusting. For context, this is NOT a friend of mine. He’s a guy I’ve barely said more than good morning to.
I left the office with tears running down my face. I tried to shield my red eyes with sunglasses, but anyone who encountered me saw me crying. I cried much of the evening and the following day. I felt violated and ashamed. Had I done something to provoke this? Were my heels too high or my jeans too flattering? I have been crushing it at the gym lately.
The same guy pinged me a couple weeks prior to tell me he noticed that I’m always working really hard. I said thank you and that I appreciated that he noticed. Did that somehow open the door to him—a married man with a baby on the way—feeling it appropriate to let me know he likes looking at me?
Tuesday, I felt so nauseated that I couldn’t bring myself to go to the office. Instead, I played a video my sister-in-law posted of my niece, 4, giggling as she innocently drove her toy car around the yard. All I could think about in that moment was my sweet girl growing up and having a slime bag stare at her ass while she tries to do her job.
Oh, hell no! Not on my watch!
So I fired off an email to the slime bag letting him know that what he said was disgusting and it affected my day. I told him not to bother me again. All I want to do is my job–making healthcare work better. A mission I’m very passionate about.
I also took it to the whisper network at my company. Even without mentioning his name, I got responses of “I know exactly who you’re talking about because he’s done it to me, too.”
Well, that got me really fired up. I’m not going to whisper for another second. I’m going to scream and yell.
There is no reason anyone should feel uncomfortable going to their job or sitting at their desk. There is no reason I should be searching my closet for unflattering articles of clothing to wear. There is no reason a slime bag should feel comfortable telling a coworker he (or she) likes to stare at them from behind. THIS IS NOT OK!
So today I held my head high, and I went to work. Obviously I didn’t sit at my desk in his eye line. But anyone who asked why I wasn’t sitting at my desk was told exactly why I wasn’t sitting at my desk. I even spun my laptop around and let them read the exchange (posted above, in its entirety) for themselves.
And I got a ton of support from my colleagues. Men and women promised to report any inappropriate behavior they see. They offered to have a conversation with him on my behalf. One even put a red rose on my desk. “The color of courage,” she explained.
Tonight I’m so grateful to all the supporters. To every man who asked how to navigate in the #metoo era and all the brave victims who are using their voice– who are turning their whispers into shouts. You all inspire me. And if I go home crying again tomorrow, it’ll be for a completely different reason.