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Work/ Career

Dear Amy,

Although I am not being sexually harassed or physically threatened at my current job (Office/HR Manager of an I.T. company) it is otherwise just about the most oppressive job I have ever had. To list a few of the more egregious incidents:

1. My boss is having an affair with one of the staff and expects me to cover for him with his wife.

2. People are fired with practically no notice and are not paid severance pay nor are they compensated for their accrued vacation time. I am often the one who has to deliver the news and deal with the emotional fallout.

3. My boss tells us all exactly what to do and the only ones whose jobs survive are those who do what he says without question or expression of doubt. Questioners soon lose their jobs, although there is always some other reason cited.

4. Promises re: future salary, bonuses and working conditions are made at hiring time that are not kept later on. Sometimes humble begging by an employee will help resolve these problems in an employee's favor, but not always.

5. I am routinely expected to lie about or muddy the details of certain company business to benefit/protect the company. He has even mentioned the possibility of needing me to lie in court in future (not that I would!).

6. He shouts at our Administrative Assistant when she makes mistakes, causing her to have crying fits in my office.

Strangely, my boss thinks he is a very righteous guy and gets angry when people criticize him or choose to leave the company. Even more strangely, he can also be entertaining and energizing to work with -- but only if you are on his good side.

Needless to say, I am looking for a new job. But why do I, a feminist daughter of a feminist and graduate of a women's college, feel so guilty?! And why have I put up with it so long (almost a year now), just smiling and nodding and "yessir-ing"?! Inside I am sickened and outraged. Outside I act as if everything is just fine -- and I keep going along with things! I am very angry with myself yet I dread the scene when I ("one of his most trusted employees") announce my departure.

Thank you!
-Tanya

   

Dear Tanya,

Just yesterday I was leaving a Yoga class and this man approached me about the class -- did I like it? Did I take it often? I answered his question and then went to leave and he said just a minute I'll walk out with you. I made some excuse and left, but felt so guilty, while simultaneously kicking myself for feeling guilty. My story is quite different from yours, but I have others that are more similar as do most of the women I know. I think we haven't yet liberated ourselves from the please like me gene. And because women feel entirely responsible/accountable to/for the world, it makes sense that we wouldn't ever want to hurt anyone's feelings. I am not justifying this behavior--in fact, I'm trying to liberate us from it, but it's hard. When we do, like Hillary Clinton has done to some extent, we are eternally criticized. I think the greater problem is that not enough people are speaking up -- if more people really expressed their feelings, we wouldn't always feel like "maybe it's only me, but...". So, those of us who are brave enough need to speak up -- I might not be there yet, but I'm getting there. Thanks for writing -- and happy job hunting
Amy

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