What a mountain of a saga that has exploded between Mamamia and Sunrise.
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, have a read here.
I’m not going to go into a feminist rant about whether what Kochie did was right or wrong (I honestly believe he wasn’t trying to demean Sam at all) because that’s just not me. But I thought I’d share an incident that happened to me at Tafe when I was doing my apprenticeship where I felt demeaned and did my best to alleviate the situation.
You see Tafe was full of young, hormonal teenage boys. If they weren’t teenagers, some of them were mature age men who should have known better. The porn and zoo magazines were as common as the plumbing workbooks we had to go through.
One particular day in class, the teacher left the classroom and one of the boys had a pornographic film on his mobile phone. Some of the guys in the classroom gathered around to watch the film, which unfortunately was behind where I was sitting. I didn’t care what they were doing because the film was being played with the sound set to silent.
But then one of the mature age students turned the sound on and all I could hear was the woman panting and making ‘oh, oh OH’ sounds. My cheeks burned and I instantly felt uncomfortable. I turned around to the boys and told them to turn it off.
I didn’t have to tell them that I felt sexually demeaned, but they knew that what they were watching during class time was inappropriate. Especially when I was the only girl in the classroom.
I didn’t talk about the matter again until I told my mum the next day and she was furious. She talked to the Master Plumbers Association who advised that I was in my rights to make a complaint.
But a complaint about what?
Yeah, the guys shouldn’t have been watching that movie, but as soon as I asked them to stop playing it, they stopped. Yes, they should have respected me from the moment they walked into that classroom by not playing it in the first place, but when you’re in an environment where you’re in the minority, you choose your battles. And I knew that this battle was one that would cause more issues than I was willing to put up with.
I do sometimes wonder whether I should have made complaints so that other women who followed after me wouldn’t have the same experiences as me. But there were other girls who had also gone through Tafe before me. Did they have the same experiences as me and choose to move on?
I, unfortunately, demeaned an apprentice at Tafe by saying something that I should have kept in my head. I had one guy who constantly asked me for phone numbers of my single girlfriends so he could call them up. Obviously I said no way and should have stopped at that but instead I added, ‘why would I give you my girlfriends numbers when you could potentially give them an STD?’. EEEEKK!!
He said to me quietly, ‘that’s not a nice thing to say Bec’. And it certainly wasn’t. I still cringe when I think about that conversation, but thankfully he stopped harassing me for phone numbers.
You see you have to be so careful about what is said and done to colleagues or students or anyone that you work with when it comes to talking about sex. Anything about sex should be a no go zone because while the person you interact with may find it funny and not at all demeaning, someone overhearing the conversation could.
I’d love to hear what you think. Have you ever been in a situation where you have felt sexually demeaned?