Curious

After-hours harassment

I am the only young female associate at a small firm and further not married. After work, maybe once a week or every 2 weeks the other associates (all male, married and about 7-10 years older than me) go out to a bar together. It felt so great to be included with that group and I jumped at the chance to go out with them. When we would go out though they would talk about completely disgusting and inappropriate stuff in front of me. I thought, hey, I am a "cool" girl and I really want to be included so none of it should bother me right? Well after a couple months of this, I started feeling like I was doing a complete disservice to all young female attorneys by sitting there and laughing right along with them. (One of the married men also became completely inappropriate with me but that is an entirely separate blog).

Because of that one in particular I stopped going out with them and actually won't even speak to him because he crossed the line so bad telling me about some sexual experience and hitting on me. I have been told by others close to me that I need to set better boundaries.

I guess my question is really....how can I be included after-work and deal with the mysogism at the same time?? I also want to stand up to the associate that crossed the line but I am leaving the firm to move to another state in the next month so I don't know if its "worth" it. But everytime I see that associate I get very angry and upset. I hope that is a unique experience. I honestly didn't feel ready for this situation when it happened because I just thought we young women didn't have to deal with this stuff....that the women before us had done away with all this with their movement.

Any advice? I don't really want to hide by myself in my office...are there ways to deal with this in the future. I am relieved to be leaving the firm.

1 Comments

sintecho

I think the issue of women being afraid to speak out against inappropriate conduct is a huge problem at firms.  On the one hand, I want to encourage you, Curious, to at least tell this associate that his behavior upset you and potentially constitutes sexual harrassment, but on the other hand, I understand your reluctance.  I've seen a lot of women who do speak out branded as overly sensitive (like the sexual harrassment eggshell plaintiff), and there often are adverse consequences for reporting these experiences, especially if you do want to work at the firm (I mean, if you were the only woman out with them, they would immediately think of you if someone "anonymously" reported their actions).  But, if we don't start speaking out and setting boundaries, how can we expect things to change?  I guess the question is whether it's better to speak to the person who did the offensive behavior or to go above him to management to report his transgression?  I hope you'll do something, though, especially since you're leaving the firm.  If you do, I hope you'll post on what happened.

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