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Yes, Sexual Harassment Still Happens to Midlife Women.

Women, have you ever been Socially Humped?

Of course you have! 

This is the era of #metoo! Considering the demographic of this blog, midlife women who started working in the mid-1980’s, you have most likely encountered the bullshit shenanigans of the typical Social Humper. 

Social Humper- noun- definition- a (most likely) man who persists in mild to moderate sexual harassment despite being completely and continually rejected. Disregards the boundaries of societal gender interactions. (This term is mine, and I am pretty proud of its descriptive accuracy!)

(Please note: I am NOT describing any type of sexual touching that is a result of force, coercion, or substance abuse.That behavior is predatory in every aspect. I an also aware that there are women who sexually harass male/female co-workers. This blog post is focusing on the construct of male on female harassment).

Every woman at some point has been the flirtatious target of a man who has the social IQ of a tree stump. Am I right??

I used hang out at the dog Bark Park quite a bit. Because there are oodles of dogs there, you can count on seeing some hard core, high level humping. I find it hilarious, but the “humpee” and the owner of the” humper” are never amused. Shouting, arm waving and grabbing dogs by the collar seem to be the quickest ways to stop a canine hump-fest. I am convinced the dog being humped feels humiliated and violated, and frankly, disgusted. 

Recently, I watched a hyper, large breed mutt dog run from hound to hound, happily humping (much to his screaming owner’s dismay). It caused me to think about something I call “Social Humping”. Comparable to unwanted humping from a rowdy dog, social humping is similar, only it happens between humans. 

Have you ever been around a person who seems to have no ability to read social clues? I am not talking about those that might be struggling with a disability, or somehow otherwise unable to process human interaction. 

An example: I recently worked with a man who is a Social Humper. The only way he was able to address women in the workplace was to use a diminutive name. Daily he would walk in the office and say to his female co-workers “Good Morning Sunshine!” Or when he wanted your help, this was his Rico Suave approach. “I know you can handle this project because you have such beautiful eyes!” Reaching for my barf bag!

But his cluelessness didn’t stop with words, he was also a toucher.

I clearly remember when he walked up behind me at my desk and began to make circles in my sweater pattern. It was crocheted and he said it reminded him of his Grandma, and then began moving his fingers in the open spaces. Spinning around in my chair, I furiously demanded that he stop touching me. 

And he did.

Apparently, he couldn’t understand he had entered the” no fly zone” of inappropriate touch. Delusional, he believed that his approach for interacting with women was perfectly acceptable and enjoyable for all involved. Not surprisingly, most of the men at my former employment didn’t like him either. 

At least they were spared the adorable nicknames. 

Being the object of his attention made you feel ill at ease, like you were preparing to step into a steamy slime shower. The women at my workplace were always irritated at his interpersonal skills, and tried shutting him down with simple one word responses.  

He was married, middle aged (50 + years old), had two children, Midwestern raised, his wife was an elementary teacher….there was simply no sane excuse for his offensive behavior. He just didn’t get it. Like the blissful canine humper at the Bark Park, he was out of control and expressing himself in ways that most of society finds offensive. 

Sexually harassing or just plain stupid, I wish someone would have grabbed him by the collar and put him back on his leash.I understand that what I am describing could easily fall in the category of workplace harassment. In today’s hyper vigilant culture, men need to consider themselves forewarned. 

No one enjoys unwanted, overeager attention. Ever.

By now, most men should understand that women are done with your garbage mouth, wandering hands and demeaning nicknames. Spend your extra energy and imagination respecting a woman who has agreed to let you into her world. I suggest talking to your wife, girlfriend, or daughter as a way to begin a conversation centering around gender respect. Ask them about their harassment experiences, have them share memories of what it felt like to be objectified in workplace humor. (To be fair, it must be recognized that there are many men who display this type of respect, in their workplace and in their homes. Men who strive to build a safer culture for women are true heroes.)

Now in midlife, I will never forget working at my first full time job during college. I was a hot honey babe (straight up truth!) in a male dominated automotive related company. It wasn’t like I was ignorant of how the world worked, but dang, something is wrong when the man who harasses you is the person in charge of sexual harassment discipline. It was the best kept secret, the sickest inside joke, the typical turn-the-head complacency of that time. I am so grateful that for women today, our workplace culture is no longer tolerating that injustice.

Yes, we are in an unprecedented era of social justice that, at times, is fueled by unreasonable expectations, but the reality is that the future is female. Speaking the truth about historically (male) offensive behavior invites us to enter into a new season of freedom, respect and maturity in workplace relationships. 

As midlife women we have the wisdom of age, the perspective of experience and the energy to support the long overdue attitude shifts in our society. As we openly support the message of women empowerment, let’s make sure we recognize the men who are working in concert beside us for healthy cultural change. 

P.S. Don’t forget my most recent book recommendation “It Didn’t Start With You.” This book will give you strategies for anxiety and help you solve emotional confusion. Click here for the Amazon link!

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