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Saturday, May 12, 2007

..a brief story of sexual harrassment

As the chef started talking, I felt the blood drain out of my face, and the feeling leave my fingers and toes. " has come to our attention that you've been using inappropriate language in the kitchen...speaking in a sexual nature...making others feel've been such a good employee that we're giving you a written reprimand...fireable offense..."

First of all, it's a kitchen, full of men, and full of some of the foulest, most offensive language this side of the shipyard. I have been known to use some salty language, but it's always been on the low to medium side of offensive. I've dealt with my share of sexual harrassment, but, as crazy as it might sound, I've always found a way to ignore it. I knew when I became a chef that I was entering one of the last bastions of pure maleness. There are plenty of kitchens with strong female presence, but the majority are still places where guys are guys. To succeed, I've learned to play by their rules.

I can't convey my confusion enough. After all, I'd heard the chef and the sous chef (who happen to be best friends) say unbelievably inappropriate things with no apology. The most brazen was early in my time there, the sous chef, who had a particularly strong dislike for one of the gardeners, muttered only slightly under his breath as she passed, "f***ing c***". So really, what could I have said that would have been so offensive?

As it turned out, I'd said nothing at all. It was all a lie, all made up. I had no way to prove it, and I didn't even care to. I was so disgusted that I just wanted to find a way out.

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