Philip Galanes’s advice about sexual harassment in the workplace

I absolutely adore Philip Galanes, the New York Times’s tart, bracing, often hilariously funny “Social Q” columnist whose advice appears every Sunday in the Times Style section. I always lap him up.

Yesterday, he answered a question from a young woman:

Practice Steering

I am 19 and work in a car dealership. My co-workers have started saying to potential buyers: “We have a cute, single receptionist. Why don’t you ask her out?” These comments make me extremely uncomfortable. I also get nervous I may hurt a sale by saying no. When I asked my co-workers to stop, they laughed at me. Is there any way to stop this without hurting my position at work? Anonymous

Here’s Galanes brilliant answer, and I pass it on as advice to all young women in similar positions:

Let’s call this one by its name. You are being sexually harassed in the workplace, which stinks. Also understood: wanting to preserve your job. If there are people up the chain who will sympathize with your discomfort, go to them. But I suspect there aren’t, or you would have already. I also suspect that your relative youth is part of the reason your complaints have been laughed off. Use it for a low-key fix. Find someone at the dealership with a daughter your age and ask for help. Nothing like picturing our own loved ones in vile circumstances to get us to do the right thing. Or the next time a colleague suggests a date, appeal to his customer directly by saying: “John thinks sexual harassment is hysterical. It’s probably why women hate him.”


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