Saturday, July 11, 2009

An Unwanted Hand On Your Thigh

Not one of your own hands. And it stays there all through a dinner party. What would you do? A sudden jab with the fruit fork?

David Brooks told the world yesterday that this happened to him. A Republican politician (a man, based on the use of "he") kept his hand on Brooks' thigh like that.

You can listen to his story here:

Women tend to get life training in the skill of how to remove such an unwanted object more often than men. I find it hard to imagine how Brooks could just sit there for so long and what on earth the hand was doing all that time.

This topic lends itself to all sorts of hilarious takes. But one which is not so hilarious is this:

Suppose that this would have happened to a young intern or aide or a young aspiring journalist or someone in a similar lower power position. Women may well find themselves in such a dilemma. There you sit, with someone important groping your thigh, someone you don't want groping it. What do you do? If you make a public fuss, will your fledgling career be down the drain? If you don't make a public fuss, will you end up in a much deeper dilemma? If you use all those little skills life teaches you to remove the hand without insult, did the message get through that you are not interested?

That's why sexual harassment at work by bosses is worse than sexual harassment by underlings, say. Because of that added power-over component.