Thursday, August 11, 2011
In 1981, there was a woman assaulted at work. That sent a wave of fear through the few women who worked at our plant. I was always the last one out of the building at night and being a creature of habit I always entered and exited from the same door. Gerald would be in the parking lot waiting for me. I had to descend 17 steps. One of my guys who had worked overtime thought it would be amusing to hide under the steps and jump out and yell "BOO!" I screamed at such a decibel level that he was immediately more afraid than I. I threw my work bag at him and hit him. He apologized profusely.
The following day I went to Human Resources with a work order to wall in the steps and have a large light placed over the doorway. The initial reaction was, "Do you really think this is necessary?" I asked, "You are aware of a woman having been assaulted, are you not?" It had been hush-hush, but word had leaked through the grapevine. The answer was, "Well, that happened at the Assembly Plant." as if the Body Plant were somehow exempt from such behavior. I said, "I don't care if it was Fort Wayne, East Moline or Chicago Headquarters, my safety and the safety of others should be of paramount importance!" The work order was processed. Although I knew that I had presented the request in a professional, rational, but assertive, manner the HR manager told my boss that I was a "little hysterical."
My brother Neil operated a Tae Kwan Do studio. In conversation with him I learned that he held self-defense classes for women. The following day I went to Human Resources with a plan for Self-Defense classes. I asked the Union Steward to go with me and it was interesting that the request was approved forthwith but one would have thought the idea had originated with Human Resources as the HR Manager commented, "I've been thinking about the very same thing!"
The reason that I involved the Steward was pure manipulation on my part. I knew full well that the Human Resources Manager--a male--would be more receptive if another male were involved. It's sad, but true, that although I was a member of management, I knew that the request would be received with more seriousness if I involved the Steward--a male--because of the dismissive attitude I'd received regarding the request for the stairway to be secured.
I am very grateful that I grew up with males who treated me as an equal, which enabled me to tackle "traditional male jobs", and very grateful that I married a man who expects me to be his partner.