Cuomo must go: Sexual harassment in the workplace is no joke

sexualharassment.jpg

Lindsey Boylan in her own words:

As he began to approach me, I excused myself from coworkers and moved upstairs to a more distant area of the party. Minutes later, I received a call from an unlisted number. It was the Governor’s body person. He told me to come to the Capitol because the Governor wanted to see me.

I made my way through the underground connection that linked the Plaza to the Capitol. As the black wrought-iron elevator took me to the second floor, I called my husband. I told him I was afraid of what might happen. That was unlike me. I was never afraid.

I chose that particular passage to highlight the psychological effects that sexual harassment produces, because we too often focus on evidence; specific words or physical contact of the harasser. And in the process, the humanity of the victim is sometimes sidelined. Sexual predators are persistent in their unwanted advances, and that persistence piles up on the target of their desires. So much so that it can adversely affect the victim's job performance, giving the predator one more tool to use against them. More from Lindsey:

I tried to excuse his behavior. I told myself “it’s only words.” But that changed after a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects. We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.

I left past the desk of Stephanie Benton. I was scared she had seen the kiss. The idea that someone might think I held my high-ranking position because of the Governor’s “crush” on me was more demeaning than the kiss itself.

After that, my fears worsened. I came to work nauseous every day. My relationship with his senior team — mostly women — grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself. I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it.

On September 26, 2018, I sent a mass email informing staff members of my resignation.

I strongly encourage you to follow the link and read the whole thing. There is an unwritten social contract, as it were, when it comes to romantic encounters. Of course "No means no" is an obvious example of that, but in many cases (especially sexual harassment in the workplace), behavioral clues are more than enough to get the message across. In other words, you know if somebody is attracted to you or not. It isn't a mystery to be solved, you've already solved it.

While it may be that some sexual harassers are incapable of deciphering those behavioral signals, as many (all?) of them claim later, it's more likely they simply ignore those signals. But whatever the cause, they should not be allowed to continue in a position (public or private sector) of authority. Period.

Tags: