Friday, April 10, 2009

The Breast Conversation Ever

I've worked for bosses that were pretty skeevy in the past, but none have been so, um, forthcoming with it as my current employer. He's a college professor who's second in charge of our department, and I'm his secretary, which means I usually bear the brunt of his cluelessness. 

Our new graduate students had arrived for some orientations and what not. One of them has just had a baby over the summer, and OK, maybe she was showing off the pregnancy boobs a little. She came in one day and asked me -- privately -- about a good place to pump breast milk. Having no experience in this area, I was all, um, the bathroom? It's the only place I could think of.

Now, my boss has an unfortunate habit of staring women in the chest when he talks to us. Yes, it gets old, but he's a dude. What am I gonna do? I choose to ignore it and move on. But this poor girl, who has only been here for a day, apparently got the brunt of it early on.

I know this because my boss pulls up a chair next to my desk the other day and says he needs to talk to me about something "outside his area of expertise." Mentally groaning, I listen as he gives me the following recap of events:

"So I was talking to (grad student) a few minutes ago and I was staring at her breasts and she told me she just had a baby and needs a place to pump."

Mind you, there was NOBODY in the room at this point except the two of us. Could I have been more uncomfortable? I think not. Not knowing how to react to this, I just told him I'd check the staff bathroom to see if there was an outlet in there.

I know he looks. I see him doing it to every woman who comes through these doors. But does he have to admit it to me like that? No, he does not. And yet he does.

I saw that grad student later that day and started to tell her we could get her a key to the staff bathroom, which is a little more private than the student one, if she wants. She stopped me mid-sentence to say she had ordered a battery pack for her pump and that's the end of it. Poor girl.

Also, I need to remember to buy some baggy, high-necked shirts to wear to work.


Anonymous said...

It's amazing what people think is acceptable. Doesn't he know that people get sued for less? You'd think that would stop him where basic human decency did not.

The Modern Gal said...

I deal with these kind of guys every single day. Sure, you could threaten to sue them, but then you become 'that woman.' (I work with few other women). It's a hard place to be in.

Anonymous said...