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  • Things have improved in the equality of the sexes, at least in the U.S. - I can attest to that. Not in everything, such as promotions and salary, but in some rights, yes. I mean it's all relative. That is, if you are able to look back - like I can - which means you have some years to look back to, then you can see progress.
  • I have had quite a few jobs in my life -a variety. In a number of these, I have put up with bosses chasing me around the desk (and you thought that was only in cartoons), and a few cornering me. One was a pastor, another was a purchasing agent for a university, both were married.

    The latter one had developed some weird fantasy in his mind that I was a prostitute and the two girls I lived with were prostitutes. I think he got the idea because he drove by our house and we had a red lightbulb in the porch light. I think it is what we had on hand. I didn't dress like a prostitute or act like one, so I assume in his sick mind he had to justify why he could approach me so shabbily.

    The pastor, on the other hand had seen the movie "Witness" with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. I dressed very modestly as the church secretary and wore no makeup, so he projected me into the Amish woman Kelly McGillis played and naturally he was...Harrison Ford - the tough but sensitive detective. The pastor ended up having a nervous breakdown, divorcing his wife, and working for a winery. Obviously there was some serious internal conflict.

    Wow. Did I learn something about how men think. My earliest introduction to this was when I was 22 and eating my sack lunch in a public park. I was wearing a pink flowered top and pink corduroy bib overalls and pig tails. This was in Florida where horny old men go to retire (at least in St .Petersberg). Anyway, this old guy, old enough to be my great grandfather, came up to me and offered me $20. (I know - I come cheap!) I thought I misunderstood him so I asked him what he said. I hadn't misunderstood! He raised the price. I told him if he didn't walk away immediately I'd scream at the top of my lungs.

    Then there was the sweet elderly gentleman who offered to buy me an ice cream. I let him. He seemed like a grandpa and I never knew mine. But when he started to invite me to sit on his lap...I thanked him for the cone and left. I left St. Peterberg too, virtue intact.
  • By the time the eighties rolled around I was living in Boston. A male friend of mine was working for a chemical company and helped me get a job there. This same company was featured later in a big movie about poisoning a local town's water (think John Travolta), but that is a different story. I was at this job three years. I worked my way up to senior chemical lab tech. I was the first woman lab tech they hired and while I was there they hired only one other woman as a lab tech. My job was testing roofing material. I wore jeans, steel-toed cowboy boots, lab coat and goggles. Not exactly the picture of sexiness.
  • Overall, I got along well with the men I worked with. The lab boss was an attractive Irish man with a beautiful Spanish wife. I worked hard and he respected me. The chemist I worked with was another story. To describe his work ethic he had a quote: "Dazzle them with Data and Dazzle them with bullshit." He was sort of the Italian version of George Costanza on Seinfeld.

    Anyway, one day the "boys" all went out to lunch together. When they returned I learned they had gone to a place called "The Golden Banana." Yah, you guessed it. I mean, I didn't care. But it didn't stop there. They all had to return to the lab and - there I was - the only woman, dressed in a sexy lab coat (not!)

    They started following me around the lab en masse and telling dirty jokes. I asked them to leave me alone. I kept moving around the lab but they followed. They kept it up -wouldn't stop. I started to feel threatened and physically ill. Even more so, as I considered these men to be my friends. It felt like a betrayal. Finally I went to the office secretary and told her I was ill and going home.
  • So the next day I told my nice, fair, Irish boss. He was very sympathetic and would talk with the perpetrators. I felt relieved. I felt it could be easily resolved with an apology and understanding it would not happen again.

    The next day my boss called me into his office. He had spoken with the men. His attitude and tone completely changed. He said they told him I was pushing my "morals" on them. I had exaggerated an innocent situation and was over-reacting. I felt sick to my stomach again.

    I looked at my boss...after some minutes of disgusted silence. I asked him if he would feel the same if his lovely wife had described going through the same situation to him. I told him I understood that he could more easily afford to lose one female lab tech over 4 male chemists. I asked him how he could pay a high salary to 4 chemists who spent their Fridays standing around telling dirty jokes (they called it "porn Friday") instead of doing lab experiments. He blushed and stared at his desk but said not a word. I walked out of his office. Word did get back to his boss, not by me but through the grapevine.

    What got me through was my male friend worked in the lab across the hall and he and his coworkers said they heard what happened and supported me. They said if they knew what was happening to me that day they would have knocked out those horny dudes. So I knew not all men are ass holes.

    I stayed on at the lab but never viewed my boss or coworkers the same. Later, I moved to San Francisco and ended my scientific career and opted for non-profit agencies. But I learned there are "Mad Men" everywhere.

    Things improved though. I don't know if it is the sexual harrassment laws (which I do think help) or men stopped turning me into their fantasy movie or lunch break, or I just got older and uglier. Whatever the reasons, I don't miss those days of "Mad Men and Me."
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