I have always been a fan of Dolly Parton.
In the past I have been known to sing “Jolene” on karaoke outings. Sometimes I listen to “Coat of Many Colors” when I feel like sitting in my car and crying. It goes without saying that everyone knows “Islands in the Stream” is a beautiful song and personally, I choose not to keep company with people who don’t like Kenny Rogers.
But songs aside, if anyone were to ask me my favorite of Parton’s projects outside of music, I would be lying if I didn’t say “Nine to Five.”
The movie came out in 1980 at the beginning of the modern working woman’s revolution. Ladies were finding new careers in the business world and trying desperately to be considered equal to their male counterparts. It sounds idealistic today because, quite frankly, it was.
Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda play three friends working beneath a sexist bigot of a boss who have had enough of their working conditions. And this is the kicker: to even things up with him they decide to hold him hostage in his own home, force him to wear nothing but his underwear and bondage equipment and forge his signature on false documents changing office policies.
Kidnapping, forgery, falsification of documents and sexual harassment to boot? That’s sounds far more serious than making a snide remark about Dolly Parton’s breasts.
I’m not saying that sexual harassment shouldn’t be taken seriously because it should be. No one, woman or man, should be made to feel uncomfortable because of their gender or the way they look. But women should understand that when it comes to sexual harassment the ball is in their court. Though the power may be intoxicating, it should be handled with care.
I can’t count on two hands how many times I have been sexually harassed in what could be considered a serious manner. Had I pulled the sexual harassment card, I could be sitting on my own tropical island somewhere rather than writing this column.
For a long time I worked as a mechanic in a shop full of men. I chose to study aviation maintenance at a school I attended previously and was the only woman in any of my classes. When I was getting my pilot’s license all of my instructors were men. I also like going to bars and there are usually a lot of men there too.
The law of probability favors that at some point a little sexual harassment was bound to happen.
But when facing all of these situations I knew previously what I was getting myself into, so I planned accordingly. I knew that wearing a pair of shoulder pads and cutting my hair short wouldn’t make matters any better or easier. To this day I use the same tactics I have always used when facing any sort of harassment. I argue, demean, offend and harass anyone who is willing to do the same to me. Is it ethical? I don’t think so. Is it appropriate? Probably not.
Have I complained? No. I may be a lot of things, but I’m neither a pot nor a kettle.
You see, Dolly, Lily and Jane entered the work place thinking they deserved respect inherently because they were women. I entered the work place knowing that I had to earn the respect because I was a woman. One could argue that my approach was the wrong one. One could say that I should have taken serious action every time a comment was made. But if I truly wanted to be considered as an equal I needed to act like one.
My opinion doesn’t earn me a spot in the YaYa Sisterhood and I certainly don’t get to wear the traveling pants, but I do earn respect from others through a fair share of mutual disrespect. Besides, what’s wrong with a bit of sexual harassment between consenting adults?Contact Shannon Craig.