A while ago I worked as a pianist in a vocal studio, accompanying voice students. I'm a very competent pianist, good accompanist, and also have university degrees in areas other than music.
When I joined the studio, I was single and not dating (by choice). Although I had been very slim and attractive for most of my life, by that time I’d gained quite a bit of weight and wasn't taking care of myself.
But I was also NOT interested in anyone, OR in dating.
The owner of the studio, however, wanted me to meet someone. She was aware of the fact that I could look very attractive from a number of occasions on which I’d demonstrated that fact, and from some old pictures which I’d shown her.
One day, a new voice student (male) joined the studio. He looked disheveled, unappealing, depressed, and even tipsy, but demonstrated a rich and musical voice.
After he left, the studio owner noted he seemed “lonely" and "in need of a woman."
She started working persistently to bring us together, despite my disinterest, constantly stressing the fact that he just needed a "good woman" to modify his behavior and appearance.
He, too, demonstrated a very aggressive, boorish, and desperate attitude towards me, which I found offensive and off-putting.
At one early lesson, he leaned on me from the back, making close physical contact and cackling vulgarly.
When I moved away, the studio-owner became enraged that I wasn’t accepting his "attentions."
At the following lesson, she placed him at the corner of the piano, from where he ogled me in an offensive, lewd fashion while she watched.
She encouraged him to ask me out. I declined his invitation in a polite, gentle, but firm manner. The next day, before he arrived, she expressed outrage that I turned him down, yelling and insulting me.
I told her that this was sexual harassment, at which she laughed, which prompted me to then leave her employment.
My question: Is it appropriate for someone to encourage the crude attentions of a sexually unappealing guy towards a woman who’s expressed disinterest?
It is still women’s responsibility to take care of someone who might be considered a "diamond in the rough," or should it be the guy's responsibility to improve himself?
No, it’s NOT “women’s responsibility” to “take care of” men who behave obnoxiously towards them.
It’s also not appropriate for others to encourage a man’s “crude attentions” towards a woman who’s clearly expressed disinterest.
Though cultural norms of the past often wrongly encouraged these unwanted attentions by men, the current #MeToo era has labelled and rejected such behaviour as intolerable and illegal sexual harassment by both the man and your employer.
You were wisely self-protective when you quit that job. It’s likely that the harassment would’ve escalated, since the studio-owner had a financial interest in keeping the voice student continuing his lessons and proximity to you.
Various laws covering sexual harassment form part of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the related provincial human rights acts.
The Canada Labour Code also establishes an employee's right to employment free of sexual harassment.
In the United States, two forms of sexual harassment are recognized in law: quid pro quo sexual harassment (requiring an employee to tolerate sexual harassment to keep their job, receive a tangible benefit, etc.);
And persistent sexual behavior that creates a hostile work environment and interferes with an employee's ability to work.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose high-profile job attracted men who wanted to attend celebrity events, but drank excessively once there and came on to her sexually (Dec. 21):
Reader – “I’d suggest she take a girlfriend along. She’d have someone with her and no problems. And she can fast-dance with her. Women do it to attend weddings with someone.”
Reader #2 – “Solution: Back in university, my roommate and I were friends with two female roommates living in the same house.
“After graduation, one of the female friends, “X,” was working at a noted accounting firm. She had to attend corporate functions, and didn’t want similar mishaps as your letter-writer experienced.
“She asked me to show up with her regularly at the various business entertainment functions. She knew that I valued my own developing reputation in the business world.
“Over several years, I attended many events, had a lot of fun, and made a number of new friends.”
Tip of the day:
Sexual harassment is intolerable, and against the law in both Canada and the United States.