If you want to know where I stand on sexual harassment in the office -- I'm against it. When women talk about sexual harassment, they immediately think of men forcing their attentions on innocent young ladies and threatening them with dire consequences if they don't respond favorably to their advances.
But there is another side to every story. There are some women (we won't know the numbers until the latest census figures are released) who are provoking men in their offices, either to advance their careers, or just because they're bored with their jobs.
The biggest question the white-collar worker faces is to decide who is harassing whom.
The answer is obviously in the eye of the beholder.
This is how the women's liberation people see it:
"Miss Samuels, after you finish typing these papers would you bring them over to my apartment tonight?"
"I have a date for dinner with my boyfriend, Mr. Shlitz."
"Well, break it. After we get the paper work done, I'll cook the dinner. Heh, heh, heh."
"No, no -- a thousand times no. I'd rather die than say yes."
"I'll remember this, Miss Samuels, when your efficiency report comes up. You know they will be laying off people next month."
"Oh please, Mr. Schlitz, don't give me a bad report. I am the sole support of my mother, and if I lose this job we will not be able to pay our mortgage and we will be thrown out of our condominium into the street."
"It's not my decision. It's yours. Shall we say 8 o'clock at my place?"
"You don't give me any choice. Oh mother, please forgive me. I'm doing it for you."
Now this is how the men in the office tell it:
"Mr. Schlitz, I don't believe I will be able to finish the typing you want by 5 o'clock. Would it be all right if I call you at home when it is done, and then you could come over to my place and pick it up?"
"Miss Samuels, do you mind not leaning against my desk in that slit skirt? It's very distracting."
"I'm sorry, but these skirts are so comfortable in hot weather. If you wish, I can pick up some wine on the way home so you can relax and study the report."
"I don't think my wife would approve of that idea."
"Oh tush, Mr. Schlitz. You're entitled to a mid-life crisis like everybody else."
"The offer is very attractive, but I don't believe a man should get personally involved with someone in his own office."
"That's your business. I'll tell Mr. Carlyle your report won't be ready for tomorrow and the client will just have to wait. By the way, there's a big rumor that heads are going to roll next week. I hope yours isn't one of them. You're an awfully nice guy."
"All right, Miss Samuels. I'll be over, but I have to be home by 11:30.
My wife is afraid to watch Johnny Carson alone."
The real truth concerning sexual harassement in the office may lie somewhere between the two:
"Call me Linda."
"Do you mess around?"
"What a terrible question. Why do you ask?"
"No reason. It just came out."
"Well, the answer is I don't."
"Forget I mentioned it. Shall we get to work?"
"Okay, I'm free Friday night."