“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
~ Katharine Hepburn
Yesterday, under orders from the University, the entire department attended an anti-harassment seminar. It didn’t go as well as could have been desired.
The officers, muttering something about cooties, grudgingly trotted off and about an hour later office personnel followed. When the secretaries entered, a collective groan went up as the men were forced to put away their Vargas posters and NSFW magazines.
The presenter stood up, closing her ears when an unnamed person muttered something about “having to listen to this broad for an hour,” and put on a cheerful face.
“I’m here to talk to you all today about unacceptable behaviors at work. Luckily there are no [censored slur] here, so this should be easy.”
Things rapidly devolved from there.
“The protected categories of personal traits are sex, gender, religious affinity, color, genetic information, age, and -”
“What’s the difference between sex and gender?” yelled out someone. “I mean, besides who you’re allowed to hit on?”
“One is your actual sex, male or female. The other refers to expectations or traits of your sex. For example, ridiculing a woman for trying to tackle something obviously beyond her scope, like chemistry. Or a man for studying something that we can use to determine his sexual orientation, like musical theatre.”
“I’m a musical theatre major,” injected one student from the back of the conference room.
“Oooh, look at him,” cooed some of his compatriots flapping their wrists at him and beginning to make obscene personal remarks.
“Then why don’t you put on a skirt and wash something,” yelled a sergeant, diminutive in size anxious to fit in the Boys Club.
C., enraged at the slur on A) skirts and B) laundry duties, leaped to her feet, climbed up over the seats and delivered a long and inventoried tirade abusing the sergeant’s personal hygiene and evolutionary history. Hennessy, attempting to restrain her friend, tried to mitigate matters until a student officer told her to “shut up, quit working, and stay at home like she was supposed to.” Whereupon both Hennessy and C. launched themselves at the student and his companions and frightful blows were exchanged.
“Women can work,” Chief hurried to scream into the fray, trying to calm everyone down, “unless they become pregnant!”
“Excuse me?” bellowed Wise planting her hands on her growing stomach to brace for impact before she barreled him over. Rounding on the company she roared, “Who’s next, you bunch of communists?!”
Susie demanded, “Who’s the commie pig?” whipped off her heels and began stabbing anyone in her way with stilettos
While this was going on, both a male and female officer had taken refuge under the stage. “Good thing we’re staying out of it,” said the male officer to a female, nudging her arm conspiratorially.
“Molester!” she screamed and dragged her surprised, hapless victim out where he was quickly devoured by a herd of bloodthirsty traffic clerks.
From the podium, the presenter tried to beat off a student officer with a propensity to stalking with a chair, yelling “Fire!” to make someone pay attention to her plight.
“I thought,” shouted Chief from where he was wrestling with a young female worker who was trying to get him in a compromising position in order to sue the university, “you had to tell someone who – ow! – was annoying or offending you – let go of my leg! – to stop before you could take legal action.”
“Oh no!” responding the presenter, getting her assailant into a headlock, “A behavior doesn’t have to be acknowledged to be unwelcome.”
“Yeah!” shouted Lt. Colossus, emerging from the brawl bloody but unbowed. “Watch!”
He reached out to where Lauper was punching an officer and ridiculing him for impotence, slapped her on the bum and collapsed on the ground when she promptly kneed him in the groin. She was then set upon by a small horde of police officers who beat her senseless, calling her (alternatively) Hindu, Sheik, Protestant, and a variation of African spiritualism that the editors are not sure how to correctly spell.
The brawl was not broken up until both dogs and firehoses were turned on the rampaging attendees. At which time it was ascertained that four were dead, seven concussed, one was bleeding out, three had lost the ability to walk, and two the ability to reproduce. Other casualties include a missing eye, several knocked out teeth and, to date, one marriage. After mopping up the entrails, the mob was deposited at the university’s Equal Opportunity office where the presenter, ashamed that she let the meeting get so out of hand, apologized but was fired anyway because in the future, “keeping track of these [censored slur] would clearly be a man’s job.”
After a strict talking to, the rest of us were sent home with copies of “Men are from Neptune, Women are from Saturn’s Sixth Moon, Titan.”