By Grant McGee: Local columnist
I had to attend a Gender Sensitivity Training seminar many moons ago.
I was working someplace when a female employee alleged a male co-worker had made unwanted advances on her personage and she sued.
The business owner wanted to make sure his management team knew about sexual harassment. We were plunked down in front of a stern-faced trainer named Hildegard. She wore horn-rimmed glasses and a furrowed brow. Her hawk-like gaze indicated this would be serious business, no kidding around.
Pete, our sales manager, looked around the room while sniffing the air. “What’s that smell? Did they just spray for bugs?” he asked.
“That’s my perfume,” said Hildegard, locking a gaze on Pete.
“Oh,” said Pete, turning a little red.
Hildegard covered the world of sexual harassment, that every business is unique in terms of what constitutes sexual harassment, that what may be acceptable at one business would result in a dismissal at another.
To combat sexual harassment, employees should know they must report an incident to their supervisor immediately and the supervisor must address the issue quickly.
“Is it sexual harassment if a woman body slams a man up against a wall?” I asked.
“Well, give me details,” said Hildegard.
It was a tale involving a tall, big-boned gal on our staff named Rose Marie and Kenny, our tech support dude. Kenny was an impish guy who looked like he was always up to mischief.
For instance, Kenny didn’t have a driver’s license. This happened because he had t-boned a pickup truck while riding his motorcycle one night with a flashlight duct-taped to the handlebars because his headlight was out.
Anyway, one day Kenny comes sauntering into work to find Rose Marie typing away. There was a small radio by her computer.
“I see you have a L. O. R.,” said Kenny.
“What’s a L. O. R.?” said Rose Marie.
“A Li’l Ol’ Radio.” Kenny continued with a mischievous grin, “And I see you’re sitting on your B.F.A.”
“What’s a B. F. A.?” said Rose Marie. She didn’t seem to be paying attention.
“Your Big Fat…”
Kenny didn’t get that last word out because Rose Marie whirled around, got to her feet, grabbed li’l ol’ Kenny by the shoulders and pinned him against the wall with both feet dangling about a foot off the ground.
Kenny offered a stuttering apology and Rose Marie lowered him to the ground.
But there was this weird smile on his face. “Is there something else I can do to make you really mad?” he asked.
Rose Marie sneered at him then went outside for a smoke.
My story was over. There was silence in the Gender Sensitivity Training room. There were a few raised eyebrows around the table.
“Oh my,” said Hildegard. “Did you report this?”
“No, I figured it was a draw. Kenny insulted Rose Marie and she body slammed him against the wall. They were even. Common sense, kind of like back in school.”
Well, I was wrong. I was admonished by Hildegard and my boss to always report confrontations between employees.
And so went my experience with Gender Sensitivity Training. It’s something a lot of folks ought to experience if only to find out that you shouldn’t comment on people’s anatomy, you don’t body slam co-workers against the wall and playground logic doesn’t apply in the world of work.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: