"We should always reach for the stars...they look so good in our eyes" - PopArtDiva

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Women and Sex in the Workplace - Yesterday vs. Today

This piece is available as an archival print or a giclee on canvas at my website and it will soon be available on a number of other products like tees, cups, aprons, cards and more at the PopArtDiva Boutique opening fully in March.

Every day in current news is some story about a woman suing someone for sexual harassment. For me reading these stories is both good and bad. Good because I am happy to see women standing up for themselves and getting some justice, bad because I'm a little jealous of modern women's abilities and resources for standing up for themselves.

I experienced sexual harassment on a daily basis at almost every job I had when I was young. I was subjected to this form of indignity almost daily and had to put up with it or lose my job. It might have been as innocent as a little pat on the arm, a sexually charged joke or comment, or as overt as the boss using his power to attempt to threaten job loss if you didn't "go on a business trip" with him.

I quit many jobs because of sexual intimidation of one form or another. In those days we didn't really know we had the option of filing a lawsuit, even when we did we knew it was a losing battle!* We either put up with the disrespect and torment to whatever degree we could or we found a new job to put an end to it. Often the new job would end up being just as bad or worse and off we went to another round of interviews during our lunch hours.

In the eighties, when sexual harassment finally came under the spotlight, we were still subjected to lower salaries, less chance for advancement and the "glass ceiling". When I was promoted to a management position at my last corporate job, I asked for the same salary as other department heads. I was told, in so many words, that because I was a "single woman" and did not have a "family to support" that this would not be possible. Though I was as qualified and was doing the same job, I never came near the pay scale of males in the same position. Nor was I ever going to rise beyond a lower level managerial position - no matter what title they gave it. There wasn't one single, high level female at that company. Is it any wonder I quit corporate America in the early 1980s and became self-employed?

Even self-employment was no guarantee of equality or freedom from discrimination. I often lost job bids to male counterparts. I could not charge the same rate as a male doing the same work. As an artist today I still deal with this issue in the pricing of my work and it's sale.**

As stupid as it would seem in this day and age, corporate America will still allow and even condone disrespect and disparagement of women by their male employees. It may have gone undergroung but the "boys club" is still alive and well and "smoking cigars" in the boardrooms and cubicles of America, and the women are still "making the coffee" and manning the keyboards.

So don't think it's a Brave New World out there, ladies. It's still a man's world in too many ways. Women still suffer from discrimination in hundreds of small ways from lower salaries to less opportunity for advancement to being treated with less respect.

We may have come a long way, baby, but we still have a long way to go. As DIVAS we should always keep that in mind and work towards our true equality.

*Just because a law is passed doesn't mean the courts and the juries will back it up! If society as a whole is still in the dark ages, no law will bring that society forward into the light! See links below.

The Chronology of Sexual Harassment Law

The Chronology of Sexual Harassment Lawsuits (scroll to bottom of article)

**Art, the "X" factor - Prices for art, male versus female

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