With thanks very much to Marilyn for the translation of the following article from Ildaro (일다), I’ll quickly let it speak for itself:
고용불안 속, 직장내 성희롱 위협 커져
In the midst of employment instability, the threat of workplace sexual harassment increases
고용평등상담실 10년, 여성노동의 현실과 미래를 말한다(2)
10th year of the Equal Employment Counseling Office, discussing female employees’ present and future
[편집자 주] 2001년 남녀고용평등법 4차 개정으로 고용평등상담실 지원제도가 도입된 지 10년이 되었습니다. 민간단체들의 고용평등상담실은 그동안 여성노동자들의 실질적 보호장치로 기능해왔으며, 여성노동자들이 처한 현실을 사회에 고발하는 창구역할을 해왔습니다. 일다는 여성노동자회와 함께 고용평등상담실에 접수된 상담사례를 통해 IMF 경제 위기 이후 후퇴 일로를 걷고 있는 여성노동의 현실과 과제를 살펴보고자 합니다. 필자 황현숙님은 현재 서울여성노동자회 회장을 맡고 있습니다.
우 리 사회의 성폭력 문제는 온 국민이 알게 된 끔찍한 아동 성폭행, 유명 정치인의 성희롱 등으로 자주 언론에 오르내리는 이슈가 되었다. 직장내 성희롱으로 고용평등상담실의 문을 두드리는 여성들의 호소 또한 가벼운 성적 농담이나 접촉을 넘어서 심지어는 강간에 이르는 경우조차 발생되고 있다. 직장내 성희롱은 그 자체가 미치는 정신적․신체적 악영향, 노동환경의 악화뿐만 아니라 일자리 자체까지 위협받게 된다는 데에 그 심각성이 있다.
[Editor’s note] It’s been 10 years since the Equal Employment Counseling Office support system was introduced through the 4th Amendment to the 2001 Equal Employment Opportunity Law. During that time, the Equal Employment Counseling Offices of private organizations have been functioning as female workers’ practical safeguards and have acted as liaisons that report to society the realities that female workers encounter. Through the case consultations received in the Equal Employment Counseling Office, Ilda and the Women Workers Association intend to look at the realities and problems of women workers, who are losing ground after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Author Hwang Hyun-sook is the current head of the Seoul Women Workers Association.
Through incidents of horrible child molestation, a famous politician’s sexual harassment, and others of which the entire nation is aware, our society’s problem with sexual violence has become an issue that often comes up in the press. According to the complaints of women workers who’ve knocked on the Equal Employment Counseling Office’s door because of sexual harassment, there are also cases occurring that surpass light sexual jokes or touching to go as far as rape. Workplace sexual harassment itself not only has bad mental and physical effects and worsens work environments, but is even of such a magnitude that jobs themselves [of victims] may be threatened.
일자리 위협으로 이어지는 직장내 성희롱
“과장이 ‘피곤하지?’라며 손, 팔을 주물러 너무 불쾌하여 늘 가슴을 조이며 지냈어요. 어느 날 허벅지를 만지기도 하여 우울증에 시달리다가 문제제기를 하였더니 그 후 재계약을 하지 않겠다는 통보를 받았어요. 성희롱으로 실직하게 된 것 같아 너무 억울해요.”(2009년 상담사례, 계약직)
“사 장님이 자꾸 만나자고 하면서 ‘옆에 오면 가슴이 떨린다. 만나면 안고 싶고 무릎을 베고 누워 얘기도 하고 싶고 즐기고 싶다. 나를 받아 줄 수 없냐.”고 하더라고요. 남자에 대해 관심이 없다고 거절했더니, 부장을 통해 퇴사하라는 통보를 받았는데……“(2009년 상담사례, 2개월 근무)
성희롱 가해자가 사업주, 상사 인 상담은 매년 75~85% 가량이다. 가해자가 인사권을 직접 가지고 있는 경우가 많아 성희롱을 거부하거나 문제제기했을 경우에는 직. 간접적인 괴롭힘으로 스스로 그만두게 하거나 권고사직, 심지어 다른 사유를 들어 해고하는 사례들도 나타난다. 그래서 성희롱이 발생해도 공론화하기 어렵고 이를 은폐하도록 가해자가 권력을 행사하기도 한다.
Workplace sexual harassment extending to job threats
“My manager would ask, ‘Are you tired?’ and massage my hands and feet; it was so uncomfortable and I always went around feeling anxious. One day he even touched my thigh and so while suffering from depression, I made a complaint; because of that I received notice that my contract wouldn’t be renewed. I became unemployed because of sexual harassment – it’s so unfair.” (2009 counseling case, contract worker)
“The president of the company often asked me out and said ‘When you come near me my heart pounds. If we go out I want to hold you, put my head in your lap and talk, and have fun. Can’t you accept me?’ I refused, telling him I wasn’t interested in men, and through the general manager I received notice that I was to resign…” (2009 case consultation, working for 2 months)
Every year, about 75-85% of the consultations are ones in which the perpetrator of sexual harassment is the business’ owner or victim’s boss. There are many cases in which the perpetrator is directly in charge of the company’s human resources. Because of this, when the victim has rejected the perpetrator’s advances or made an official complaint, there have been cases in which the perpetrator may cause her to quit though direct or indirect harassment, urge her to resign, or even find grounds to fire her. Therefore, even though sexual harassment occurs, making it public is difficult and the perpetrator often exerts his authority to conceal it.
성희롱의 온상, 회식자리 남성중심 문화
“입 사한지 1주일 만에 본사 간부급 직원들과 회식자리가 있었어요. 간부들이 버릇인양 손잡기, 어깨동무하기, 허리 감싸기, 끌어안기, 볼 부비기……. 마치 간부들을 위해 여직원들이 대접하는 자리 같았는데 어렵게 입사하여 그만둘 수도 없고 어찌해야 할지……” (2007년 상담사례, 정규직)
“회 식 2차로 노래방에 끌려가다시피 갔어요. 술 마신 남직원들이 안으려고 해서 피했는데, 갑자기 뒤에서 끌어안더니 들었다놓았다하는데 과장, 계장 모두 묵인하고, 계장은 블루스를 추자고 하더라고요. 그래서 울면서 집에 왔는데 동기들도 다른 구청이나 동사무소 근무하면서 회식자리 성희롱 때문에 너무 힘들어 해요. 블루스를 춘 여직원한테는 잘해주고, 안 추면 욕하고 못살게 군다고 하더라고요.” (2007년 상담사례, 공무원)
회 식문화가 변하는 곳도 생겨나고 있지만, 회식자리에서의 성희롱은 지금도 일상적으로 일어나고 있다. 회식자리는 직장내 위계적 관계의 연속으로 상사의 기호에 맞추어야 하고 그의 요구에 따라야 하는 업무의 연속처럼 진행된다. 우리 사회의 남성 중심적인 문화, 위계질서가 이어지는 회식 문화는 여성들의 고용환경을 악화시키는데 일조하고 있다.
The hotbed of sexual harassment, office dinner male-centric culture
“I was at an office dinner with head office management-level employees only a week after joining the company. The executives had habits of holding my hand, putting their arms around my shoulders and waist, hugging me, pressing their cheeks against mine… It was like a place for the female employees to serve executives; it was hard to get a job here so I can’t quit and [don’t know] what to do…” (2007 case consultation, regular employee)
“I went to the second [drinking-heavy] part of our office dinner like I was being dragged. Male employees who were drinking were trying to hug me so I avoided them; suddenly I was embraced from behind and picked up and put down. The manager and section chief overlooked everything, and the section chief asked me to slow-dance with him. So I came home crying; also my peers who work at other district offices or dong offices have a really hard time because of sexual harassment at office dinners. They say the female employees who slow-danced are treated well, and if you don’t dance they curse and treat you badly.” (2007 case consultation, government employee)
There are places where office dinner culture is changing, but sexual harassment at office dinners happens regularly even now. Office dinners progress similar to the business itself, in which one must adjust to the preferences of a superior ahead of one in the workplace’s hierarchical relationships, and follow his demands. Our society’s male-centric culture and hierarchy-connected office dinner culture lead to the worsening of women’s working conditions.
친밀한 관계가 질곡인 영세소규모사업장 성희롱
“5 명도 안 되는 회사에서 근무한지 2개월인데 사장이 아침부터 술을 먹자고 하고, 남자친구랑 몇 번 하냐고 묻고 ‘나랑 애인 같은 거 하자’는 소리를 자꾸 해요. ‘이런 소리 들으려고 일하는 거 아니다’라고 말하면 무릎 꿇고 안한다고 하면서도 술만 마시면 또 그러니 일자리가 아니라 고문받는 자리 같아요.”(2008년 상담사례)
“연 말에 사장이 송년회를 가자고 해서 부담스러웠지만 가게 되었어요. 결국 2차까지 가게 되었는데 노래방에서 강제로 키스를 하고 옷 속으로 손을 넣어 몸을 만졌어요. 거부하면서 강하게 밀쳤더니 “난 사장이고, 넌 경리야”, “너 내일부터 나오지 마.”라는데, 다시 직장을 알아보면서 화도 나고 얼굴 보는 것도 두렵고 생각할수록 화가 나고 억울해요.“(2008년 상담사례, 사업주와 2명 근무)
영세소규모사업장의 성희롱은 가해자가 사업주인 경우가 많아 실질적인 법적 조치가 어려운 점, 성희롱 예방교육 특례조항 적용 사업장이라 예방교육이 실시되지 않는다는 문제점이 있다.
업 무적으로 둘만이 접촉하는 경우가 많아 사업주의 부당한 성적 요구나 사적인 친밀감을 성적 언행으로 표시하는 경우도 잦다. 성희롱을 거부하면 바로 그만두라는 통보를 받는 노동권 위협의 문제도 크지만, 매일 가까운 곳에서 얼굴을 마주쳐야 하니 버티고 싶어도 버티기 어렵다는 어려움이 있다.
Sexual harassment in a small business bound by close relationships
“I’ve been working for 2 months at an office that doesn’t even have 5 people in it; from the morning on the president suggests drinking together, asks me how many times I do it with my boyfriend, and keeps saying ‘Let’s date or something’. When I say, ‘I don’t work in order to listen to this kind of noise’, even though he gets on his knees and says he won’t do it [anymore], when he drinks, he gets like that again, so it’s like a torture chamber, not a workplace.” (2008 case consultation)
“At the end of the year, the president wanted to have an end-of-the-year party, so I went though it was annoying. I ended up going to the second part and at a karaoke room he forcibly kissed me and put his hands under my clothes and touched me. I refused him and pushed him hard so he said ‘I’m the president and you’re the bookkeeper’ and ‘From tomorrow, don’t come in [to work] anymore.’ I’m looking for another job and I feel angry and afraid of seeing his face, and the more I think about it, the angrier I get and the more unfair it feels.” (2008 case consultation, office with company president and two people)
There are many cases in which the perpetrator of sexual harassment in a small business workplace is the business owner, so real legal measures are a challenge, and they are workplaces to which the Sexual Harassment Prevention Education Exception Clause applies, so there is the problem of prevention education not being implemented.
There are many cases in business in which two people only have contact with each other, so cases in which the business’ owner expresses his unjustified sexual demands or personal feelings of intimacy through sexual speech and behavior also frequently occur. If victims rebuff the sexual harassment, the labor rights-threatening problem of immediately receiving notice to quit is serious, but there is also the drawback that because they have to see the other person’s face nearby every day, even though they want to endure it [keep working], enduring it is difficult.
늘어나는 서비스직, 늘어나는 고객에 의한 성희롱
“고객센터에서 근무하고 있는데 외주업체 소속 강사가 메신저로 ‘만나자, 남자친구와 몇 번 했냐는 등의 말과 스킨십을 하는데 법적으로 어떻게 처리할 수 있을까요?” (2009년 상담사례, 텔레마케터)
“노 인돌보미 일을 하고 있는데, 고객이 70세인데 전직 교장이래요. 첫날부터 자꾸 몸을 밀착해오고 ‘젊은 사람이 곁에 있으니 내가 다시 남성이 되는 느낌이다’, 어제는 노골적으로 ‘아랫도리가 되살아난다’며 치근대 괴로워요. 어떻게 해야 할지…….“(2009년 상담사례, 45세)
고 용형태와 업무 방식이 다양해지면서 업무상 맺는 관계의 폭도 다양하고 복잡해졌다. 협력업체나 거래처 직원, 대인서비스직의 성희롱도 다양하게 나타난다. 그리고 간병이나 노인돌봄 같은 사회서비스 일자리가 늘어남에 따라 재가 돌봄서비스에 종사하는 여성들의 성희롱 피해상담도 늘어나고 있다.
Increasing service-industry workers, increasing sexual harassment by customers
“I work in a customer service center. A supervisor [actually she uses the word for “lecturer” but I think that’s a mistake] affiliated with our subcontractor says things on Messenger like ‘Let’s go out’, ‘How many times have you done it with a boyfriend?’ and so on, and does skinship [touching like they’re in a relationship]. How can I deal with this using the law?” (2009 case consultation, telemarketer)
“I work in elder care. My patient is 70 years old and says he used to be a school principal. From the first day he has often pressed up against me and said ‘Because there’s a young person at my side I feel like I’m becoming a man again’ and yesterday, saying bluntly, ‘My lower body is coming back to life”, he made pass at me; I’m really upset. [I don’t know] what to do…” (2009 case consultation, 45-year-old)
As types of employment and ways of conducting business are diversifying, the range of relationships formed through business is also diversifying and becoming complicated. Sexual harassment of employees of subcontractors or clients, and personal service workers also presents itself in various ways. Also, in line with the increase in social service positions like nursing or elder care, sexual harassment victim counseling for women working in in-home care is also increasing.
성희롱은 사적인 일?
“남자 동료가 수시로 농담을 하면서 뽀뽀하자, 너도 밤일 할 줄 아냐는 등 수치심을 갖도록 하여 회사에 제기하였는데, 개인의 일이라고 개인적으로 대응하라고만 하는데……”(2009년 상담사례)
직 장내 성희롱은 안전한 환경에서 일할 노동권과 직접 관련이 있다. 그래서 남녀고용평등법에서도 직장내 성희롱을 금지하고 있을 뿐만 아니라, 사업주의 의무로 △직장 내 성희롱의 예방을 위한 교육 실시△성희롱 행위자에 대하여 징계나 이에 준하는 조치를 취할 것△피해자에게 해고나 다른 불이익 조치를 하지 말 것을 규정하고 있다. 그런데도 성희롱이 발생하여 이를 사측에 문제제기하면 위의 상담사례처럼 개인적인 일로 치부해 버리는 문제들이 여전히 일어나고 있다.
Sexual harassment is personal business?
“A male coworker often makes jokes and says, ‘Let’s kiss’, ‘Do you too know how to do night work [sex]?’ and other things to humiliate me so I made a complaint to the company. They said it was personal business and just told me to deal with it privately…” (2009 case consultation)
Workplace sexual harassment is directly related to the employee’s right to work in a safe environment. Therefore, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law not only prohibits workplace sexual harassment, it also stipulates, as the business owner’s duty, 1) implementation of education for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, 2) disciplinary action, or taking steps in accordance with disciplinary action, against the perpetrators of sexual harassment, 3) not firing or taking other disadvantageous action against victims. However, when sexual harassment occurs and is reported to the management, problems with it just being regarded as personal business, as in the case consultation above, are still coming up.
고용평등상담실 통해 가해자의 공식사과와 징계 등 확보하기도
“부 원장님이 간호사들에게 안마를 해달라고 하거나 성적인 얘기도 잦아 힘들었어요. 며칠 전에는 맨발로 제 다리를 쓰다듬었는데 징그럽고 수치스러운 느낌 때문에 정신과 상담까지 받았어요. 그런데 고용평등상담실에서 도와주셔서 부원장은 공개사과와 감봉처분에, 병원 전체에 성희롱예방교육까지 실시하게 되었답니다!”
“과장님 성희롱 때문에 괴로웠는데 상담실에서 도와주셔서 공개사과도 받고 가해자는 다른 근무지로 전출되어 얼굴보지 않고 근무할 수 있게 되었어요!”
직 장내 성희롱 자체가 노동환경을 악화시키고, 이를 문제제기하면 해고나 불이익이 따르기도 한다. 그러나 다른 여직원들을 위해서라도 그냥 있을 수 없다며 이에 맞서 문제를 제기하는 여성들 또한 늘어나고 있다. 이렇듯 권리를 확보하게 되는 사례도 많았지만, 일자리 자체의 불안정이 갈수록 커지면서 적극적인 대응을 주저하는 경우도 많은 안타까움이 있다.
Securing perpetrators’ public apology, disciplinary action, etc., through the Equal Employment Counseling Office
“The vice director frequently asked the nurses to give him massages or talked about sex, so it was difficult. A few days ago he stroked my leg with his left foot; because of the nasty and shameful feeling, I even got psychiatric counseling. But the Equal Employment Counseling Office helped me so the vice director’s public apology and pay docking measure, and even sexual harassment prevention education for the whole hospital were implemented!”
“I suffered because of my manager’s sexual harassment, but the Equal Employment Counseling Office helped me so I received a public apology and the perpetrator was transferred to a different workplace so I don’t see his face and I’ve become able to work!”
Workplace sexual harassment itself has a negative effect on a work environment, and if one reports it, dismissal or disadvantages often follow. However, the number of women saying that, for the sake of other women workers, they can’t just [let it] be and accordingly, making complaints, is rising. In this way there have been many cases that secured rights, but regrettably, as the instability of jobs themselves increases, there are many cases in which [victims] hesitate to take assertive action.
직장내 성희롱 문화? 이젠 바뀌어야
직장내 성희롱을 겪으면 그만두라고 할까봐 참고 견디거나, 문제제기하면 결국 피해자가 그만두게 되는 상황이 더 이상 반복되지 않도록 해야 한다. 지난 해 여성노동자회 고용평등상담실에 접수된 성희롱 발생 사업장의 78%가 성희롱예방교육을 실시하지 않은 것으로 파악되었다. 그러므로 사업장에서는 형식적이지 않은 예방교육 실시해야 하고 사내에서 발생하는 성희롱에 대하여 조사와 조치, 재발방지 대책 등을 마련하여 실시해야 한다.
그 리고 정부는 이런 사항들이 실질적으로 이루어지도록 적극적인 행정지도·감독을 해야 한다. 또한 남성 중심적이 아닌 성인지적 관점의 성희롱 인정, 영세사업장장의 성희롱 예방교육 지원 확대, 돌봄서비스노동의 성희롱 실태조사와 예방교육 및 대책 등을 마련해야 한다. 이를 통해 우리 사회와 직장 전반의 남성 중심적인 문화가 변화될 때 직장내 성희롱에 대한 인식과 대책의 변화 또한 이끌어낼 수 있을 것이다.
Workplace sexual harassment culture? Needs to change now
We need to make it so that situations in which, if one experiences workplace sexual harassment, they hold back and endure it because they’re afraid of being told to quit, or in which if they report it, they end up quitting, are no longer repeated. Last year, 78% of the workplaces reported to the Women Worker’s Association’s Equal Employment Counseling Center for sexual harassment were places where sexual harassment prevention education had not been implemented. Therefore, in the workplace, prevention education that is not cursory needs to be implemented, and for sexual harassment that occurs in-house, research, action, recurrence prevention measures, etc., need to be arranged and implemented.
The government needs to use assertive administrative guidance and supervision to make these remedies become reality. Also, recognition of sexual harassment from a gender-sensitive perspective that is not male-centric, securing support for sexual harassment prevention education for the owners of small businesses, research, prevention education, and measures regarding the sexual harassment of care-industry workers, etc., have to be arranged. When, through these, both our society’s and all workplaces’ male-centric culture changes, they will also be able to lead to changes in the understanding of and countermeasures for workplace sexual harassment.
9 thoughts on “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace & the 2001 Equal Employment Opportunity Law: What Still Needs to be Done”
I don’t have much to add except that I agree that sexual harassment training is needed, and that women need to feel safe bringing their complaints to the relevant authoriteis… but I just wanted to contribute this hilarious “sexual harassment training video”
I don’t know: but for the dialogue, the video is sooo realistic that I’m more “huh?” than laughing. Not quite the effect the makers wanted I suspect.
Meanwhile, I would have posted up an image of the Sexual Harassment Panda if I’d found a large enough image. Should have put up a video instead I guess.
But on a more serious note, the training is there, it’s just that it’s not really viewed as necessary. I get the impression from this article that bosses just send their underlings to it:
And only 3 of the 30 were men. Should really be all the bosses that have to attend instead, although I’m sure they’d hate it.
What I’ve always wondered about is if this training actually accomplishes much? It’s like back when they were talking about giving foreign teachers “sex crimes training” to prevent pedophilia – what? Like, I think the sickos are gonna do what they’re gonna do. I don’t think sending them to a one hour lecture reiterating what society has been telling them their whole lives is gonna make a big difference.
I think the most important thing is to increase awareness and to change the rape culture in general. But I do see how otherwise reasonable people (particularly men or people are used to being in positions of power) could overstep boundaries because they don’t have personal experience with their own boundaries being crossed, and in that way training could help. I just feel like it shouldn’t be a bureaucratic thing…it needs to be coming from respected and public sources so that it feels like a way of life instead of a legal hurdle/joke.
” ‘이런 소리 들으려고 일하는 거 아니다’라고”
“소리” in this context means “talk,” not “noise.”
허튼소리 = nonsense
무슨소리야? What are you talking about?
I picked up the latter expression from annoyed fathers in Korean dramas.
Yeah, I’ve heard that too, but I’d always assumed they meant “noise” because they were irritated. =) Thanks for the tip!
소리 meaning ‘talk” is negative in the expressions and contexts I’m familiar with. Still, it shouldn’t be translated into English as “noise” when referring to annoying or offensive speech.
Since sexual harassment stems out from pervading gender relations in society, with layers of history and whatnot on top of it, I’d say to address the root of the problem and empower women more. However, I hear a lot from younger Korean people that women are rather empowered and aggressive… but they’re still vulnerable to sexual harassment so that seems to be aggressiveness on a totally different ground, such as with their careers and whatnot. So it was interesting to see the Samsung case with Deputy Section Chief Lee wherein she seems to be the “empowered and aggressive” type (but that’s just my impression) and yet the way these sexual advances from her senior hit her, tells of vulnerability.
Another interesting tidbit is how they always associate feelings of shame with it – whereas other people, such as myself, wouldn’t be ashamed but be furious instead. Any trace of shame would probably be shame on the behalf of the offender! I guess sexual harassment training should also evaluate the effects and repercussions of sexual harassment, what it means for both the offender and the victim. But of course, redefining values and other things at a more ideological level is the hardest thing to do.
Also, I find that in Korean and Japanese society, doing something that attracts too much attention is looked down upon within institutions, and even in society up until now. (Thus being ostracised upon complaint of sexual harassment from a senior…) When I ask them why they don’t want to step in and be somebody’s saviour they say that they don’t want to get involved in trouble. This reminds me of one too many cases of sexual harassment on trains in Japan wherein a man was obviously feeling up a girl’s thigh while the girl just cried silently and nobody did anything until my aunt stepped in to tell him off :( (Although it’s changing now… But there are still drunk people left out in the streets almost choking on their own vomit and people just side stepping them. heh)
This is totally insane. What is worse is that men prefer male workers because they want to avoid these situations. So they are not changing their attitudes but just resorting to NOT HIRING women in the workplace instead. I once heard that men prefer male taxi/private drivers (who drive your car instead of you in case you are drunk) because they are afraid that they might sexually harass female drivers BY MISTAKE (they say that it’s mistake but in the end it’s all crap).
So Korean women are just forced to oblige to male centric bullshit anyway.
So, I’m a bit late, but… the video’s a spoof, right? Actually, I’d love to get a copy of a real training video, as well as of my own school’s official one. There was some meeting I was required to attend, at the beginning of my second year as a “new professor,” where they showed us this, er, really boring and perfunctory video (from another university, no less) about sexual harassment law. Apparently it was government-mandated that all new professors be shown them. (Which makes me wonder, what about older professors? The rumors I’ve heard were all about older faculty anyway.)
Also, as far as I know, some foreign teachers in the Public School system did get sexual-harassment training. Though it was more about not harassing children (?!?) and I don’t think anything was said about harassment between teachers or teachers and administrators.
In any case, yeah, labor law versus labor conditions is a thorny issue. I have to say, the law won’t achieve much till women are willing to use it on those who treat them like crap. And they won’t do that until they know they’ll be able to work afterwards. My girlfriend made a short satirical film about the job interview process, with lots of attention to sexism and sexualization of women. (The “perfect” female candidate brags of her housewife mom and of how she believes there’s no such thing as feminism in the business field, like her dad told her; she also vows to get plastic surgery of a sort that suits whatever department she is hired into.) There’s also a scene where the interview, reflecting on how hard he works for the company, flashes back to the noraebang and how he inappropriately (but, of course, drunkenly) touches a female co-worker, while pushing her to sing a sexually-innuendo-laden song.
The interesting thing, and the reason I’m posting, is that the last bit is based on a real experience. My girlfriend was interning at a big company, and at once of those forced outings, at the noraebang, a male employee was basically doing the same to — I can’t remember if it was her or another intern — suggestive dancing, urging her to sing some very obviously sexual song, and leering quite off-puttingly. The sexually-harassed woman moved away, and made her disgust clear, and so the guy started dry-humping the wall… drunkenly, of course.
It was shocking not because a male employee did that — that’s utterly expected — but rather because the guy had seemed like quite a forward-thinking, egalitarian fellow, but then he’d acted like that. When the department manager left with his senior staff (to go whoring, she was explicitly told) the guy came over and apologized. He said, in his ostensible defense, “I *have to* act that way when he’s here… so he can feel superior.”
Which is to say, I don’t think laws are going to do much for this problem till women feel like they can rely on those laws to achieve something, and to safeguard them after they have made a reasonable complaint, but also until the risk of being sued for doing it, as well as for tolerating it as a supervisor, is high enough to force the behavior out. And I suspect the faster and easier fix would be simply to empower women to raise their sons so they have more respect for women, since the whole judiciary and legislative process is dominated by men who I doubt are interested in making men more vulnerable for this kind of behavior.
Nor, indeed, will forcing one person from each department to attend a session achieve anything at all. One person? What’s the bloody point in that? It’s a token gesture if ever there was one.
Little wonder Korean women keep telling me that they don’t want to have kids, or, if they do, they don’t want to have/raise their kids in Korea.