For the last eight months,
Iíve been working for a small machinist company.
Iím one of two women.
There are ten men, including the manager.
I like my job and get along well with the men.
My problem is the porn posters on the walls of the shop.
Most are of women in tiny bikinis, but a few are topless
photos. The other woman
says she isnít bothered by them, but I am.
I donít want to cause problems or lose my job, but I also
donít want to have to look at those posters.
The guys will all know itís me whoís complaining, and I donít
want to make them mad at me.
What do I do?
The Shy One
Dear Shy One,
I donít think you have to be
shy to feel offended about having porn posters at your place of
employment. Frankly, in
this day and age, I canít believe the manager or owner of your
business is foolish (or ignorant) enough to allow pornographic
posters on the wall a business.
Aside from setting an unprofessional tone, heís opening
himself up to a sexual harassment lawsuit.
When I say, sexual harassment
lawsuit, Iím NOT suggesting you sue.
I believe these kinds of lawsuits are a last resort.
First, you need to try to resolve the problem with your
co-workers and manager.
Before you talk to them,
think through what you want to say, and how you will deliver your
message. Donít be
strident, whiny, or shaming.
Men are visual creatures, and they like to look at beautiful
women. Donít make them
wrong for being male.
This is not the time to
give a lecture on objectifying women.
Pick a time when most of them
are together, such as a lunch or a break.
I suggest you something like this, ďGentlemen, I know how you
all enjoy looking at beautiful scantily-clad women, and thereís
nothing wrong with that.
This is a place of business, though, and Iím uncomfortable with
having these posters on the walls.
Iíd appreciate if whomever put them up would take them down.Ē
Ignore the jokes or negative
comments they may direct toward you.
Just calmly keep repeating the above phrase.
Afterward write down the time
and date, what you said,
how you said it, and
how the men responded,
including jokes or put downs.
You might need this to prove to the manager how you attempted
to handle the situation.
Give the men two weeks to
take down the posters.
After two weeks, schedule a meeting with the manager and tell him
how you feel. Again
remain calm, rather than accusatory.
Hopefully, he will understand and remove the posters.
If he baulks, remind him that
the posters are creating a hostile work environment for you, and
could be construed as sexual harassment.
But donít make any threats.
You never want to
make a threat you arenít willing to back up.
If he makes any negative comments about you and this
situation, calmly remind him that youíre a dedicated employee, and
you donít like how heís responding to you.
Again, document the
If nothing is done, and/or
the situation escalates (the men criticize you for wanting the
posters down or make sexual remarks to make you feel uncomfortable)
then you might decide to consult a lawyer.
I hope everything works out.
Feel free to
write me with your questions.
Debra Holland, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist
who specializes in relationships and communication techniques.
To read previous 'Ask Dr. Debra' articles, please
where Dr. Debra is a regular contributor, or
click here to view
the archives. Dr. Debra Holland is also a regular
contributor to the
Noodle Posse Blog.
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