*Jane joined her firm about 6 months ago. Her colleagues are very nice and often get together in each other’s houses or local restaurant to celebrate everything from a birthday to just a good company deal gone great. There is this particular colleague, Brandon, who for the past two months keeps calling Jane names – baby, sweetie, honey, cutie – making her feel very uncomfortable, especially because his wife works at the same company (in a different department) and she sometimes joins them in their company’s get togethers. Last week they had another one of those get togethers at Brandon’s house and three times he made excuses to pass her from behind and brush his crotch on her backside. She ended her email, “I didn’t say anything at the time. I’m feeling even more uncomfortable at the office where I have to interact with him constantly. I don’t know what to say. Should I tell my fiance? Should I talk to his wife? Help.”
Why tell your fiance? What he’s going to do? Beat this guy up? You’re a grown woman, handle it. Talk to Human Resources, handle the moment. You don’t know what to say? How about you look the cad in the eye and say “Don’t you talk to me like that. You should talk to your wife like that, not me,” or do what my Brazilian friend did at Adobe 8 years ago when she was experiencing the same thing. She took the sexual innuendos two times. The third time, in a room full of people, when he whispered something inappropriately in her ear, she blurted out “you’re coming on to me. You’re using terms of affection that should be used for your wife only. I have a feeling that you think that I’m a target for sex. I’m not. Cut it out or I’ll go to your wife.” How’s that? My friend said the behavior stopped cold. Make sure to say it loud so others can hear and don’t even think of excuses not say it. Don’t justify it in your head why you can’t say it. That’s where the trouble begins.
When a woman doesn’t respond negatively to this kind of behavior, the man thinks it’s ok. Being coquettish at a time like this makes an aggressive man like that think “she’s open.” When a woman doesn’t say, “NO,” the cad thinks it’s “maybe.” It’s your responsibility to tell him off. You are leading him on by not saying anything. You should say something to him as soon as the behavior occurs, not to his wife, unless he doesn’t get it the first time. If you don’t have the grit to face his wife and tell her, then email her and CC him. One of my very best friends did that. She was out and about, having fun at an event and this guy approached her. She found out a while later that he was married. Big mistake on his part trying to pursue a single woman while married and, refusing to quit when she said “I don’t date married man”. The pest disappeared out of her radar real fast after she emailed his wife and CC’d him.
If you’re not willing (or are not woman enough) to say that, he has the perfect right to think that you’re open to his advances. This meek thing that some women do, looks seductive to these predators and it needs to stop.
*name have been changed to protect her identity