- “Look, Liz, all I am saying is, I have no evidence. As much as I sympathise with the women – if they exist – there’s not much else I can do unless they come forward with their accusations.”
- Because Julius is much calmer than I am, he has caused me to calm down too and start to pay attention to his argument – which, I now find, makes sense.
“This is the reason why women don’t report harassment – because the system is placed against us as long as you men who are in charge gang up together!” I yell into the phone. I am speaking to Julius, our HR director, and we are currently fighting about the allegations that Frank, our factory manager, has made against me.
“Now, now, calm down dear-,” Julius starts, and that only infuriates me more.
“I will NOT calm down and you will NOT call me dear!” I yell even louder. “We’re discussing gender dynamics here and you think you will patronise me with that ‘dear!?”
There’s a tired sigh from the other end of the line. “Look, Liz, all I am saying is, I have no evidence. As much as I sympathise with the women – if they exist – there’s not much else I can do unless they come forward with their accusations.”
Because Julius is much calmer than I am, he has caused me to calm down too and start to pay attention to his argument – which, I now find, makes sense.
“So inasmuch as I would like due process to happen here, I can’t just stand up and accuse Frank of sexual harassment. He’s never harassed me-,” Julius lets out a small chuckle with that statement, “-so what evidence do I have? How can I point an accusing finger if there is no one to back me up? And you know how HR law works – unless he is found guilty of gross misconduct of some sort of nature, my hands are tied. If you want to defend these women, you have to help me, Liz.”
I take a deep breath. “Ok, fine, I hear you,” I say.
“Oh, and one more thing Liz,” Julius says in conclusion, “you said the system has placed us men in charge over you women. Well, you’re about to be in charge of the whole ship now. You are officially a member of the boy’s club. I suggest you start remembering how much power you have to actually have the situation change for yourself and for the others. Good day.”
“Right. Thanks,” I say rather meekly. I feel like I have just been put in my place – but Julius is right. There is no way to counter these accusations that Frank has made against me without counter accusations from the women he has harassed. I have to find a way to convince them to speak up. Thing is, I am not sure how to do this. Oh, how I wish Chris was here so that I could dash into his office – well, my office now, except I am not sure why I don’t want to occupy it – and cry on his shoulder. Instead, I do the next best thing: I call him.