I am a waitress in a busy sports bar and restaurant. Much of the clientele are males of all ages looking to watch a football game or to celebrate a bachelor party. It is a multicultural environment, with staff and guests from all over the globe coming together. This provides me with an excellent opportunity to meet interesting and diverse groups of people. I enjoy this as I consider myself a “people person”, who needs regular social contact. I do not want to generalize and paint everyone with the same brush here. Having said that, there are some things I want you to know.
I am there to serve the guests. I am there to answer their questions about our various products and events. I can provide tourists with information on the city and help them to find their location on a map. If they are friendly and I have time, I would like to make small talk; chat about the weather, about where I am from, what they do or anything else of interest. If they have a problem or a question they can approach me.
I want them to know that I am not there to serve their EVERY need. I am not there to fulfil any of their sexual needs. I get paid to be friendly. Sure, I would consider myself a naturally friendly person anyway. My smiling or chatting however is not an advance or an attempt at flirtation. I am not trying to allure them or seduce them in any way. It is not an invitation to touch me. My slightly shy nature and the fact that I am not working in a secure position with a trade union is not a reason to take advantage of me. Would they do this at a bank or in a library? Nobody has, under any circumstances, the right to pinch my ass. Do they think I will not notice it? Do they think I will enjoy it? Do they think because I am too embarrassed and scared to complain about what happened that that makes it acceptable?
I want them to know that even though I will be there every week and if I recognize people as regulars I will say hello and greet them in a friendly manner that does not mean they can stalk me. I do not owe them something and I am not a possession. I have the right to make my own decisions whether they agree with them or not. I am not being unfair because I choose not to meet these men outside of my work. They do not have permission to go behind my back trying to get my phone number from people after I refuse to give it to them myself. They are not allowed to harass me constantly while I am working or before I even start my shift. I have been polite, I have tried to be firm, I have tried to be patient but enough is enough. Threatening to never leave me alone and making me feel scared and intimidated is not a way to attract me.
I may be one of few women in my workplace but I want my coworkers to know that I deserve respect. I have feelings too and they are being seriously hurt. I am made to feel self-conscious and paranoid constantly. I never know what to wear. All of the comments about my breasts, my weight, my clothes and my sex life are really getting me down. I feel less of a human. Like I have no personality worth getting to know. I admit I have suffered from insecurity all of my life and I have never been truly comfortable with my body but I deserve to be treated better than this. I don’t pass comments on anybody else’s appearance. Who I date or sleep with is nobody’s business but mine.
I am writing this today because I know I am not the only woman who has suffered at the hands of males who are overstepping boundaries and being highly inappropriate on a regular basis. This is something I wish to raise awareness of. I also want anybody else in my situation to know that they are not alone. For the time being I will have to remain anonymous as I am sure everybody will understand.