I was one of two women out of over 20 lecturers at a college – the other one only taught one class in a different section of the building. The central hub was the technicians office where students would come to borrow equipment and ask for support. In this office there was a ‘Page 3 Girl Wall’ that my co-workers would fawn over.
When we were moving buildings, a group of co-workers got into a discussion of where we would move the wall to?!
“We couldn’t possibly not have a wall of naked women in the common office, could we!? After all, we spent years collecting these bodies!”
This conversation was in front of the head of the school and myself. I felt my whole body burning up with embarrassment, fear, and anger. I turned to our boss and made eye contact with him. He sheepishly chuckled an almost whimper and just tried to change the subject. I knew there would be no solidarity from him for he was equally scared of his masculine staff – the boys club that his geeky presence probably spent a lifetime wanting to join. My rage at him for not taking a stand as the leader in the room was equalled by my pity for him. His silence forced my silence.
Later that evening we were at the pub and I braved up and brought up the issue to some of my co-workers. I explained my position that I should not have to be reminded of my body as a sexual object in my place of work – I get enough of that outside of work. One friend felt he was bringing a sympathetic explanation when he told me ‘don’t worry about it – these guys are pathetic and are trying to hide the fact that they can’t get laid!’ This was supposed to make me feel better…