‘My experience in the workplace has had its ups and downs being a woman. I worked at a private golf club for 6 years of my life; from the time I was 16-21. The atmosphere in a private gold club includes entitlement, and more specifically male entitlement. I worked in the back shop (cleaning clubs and maintaining the member’s gold bags) for 3 years and worked in the proshop (selling merchandise and answering phone calls and booking tee times) for 2. In the proshop I noticed early on that the women stayed inside with the merchandise and the men went outside to do marshalling, and maintaining the flow of the first tee. There have been countless times, that I can remember where my body was discussed from the male members of the golf club, or I was asked for my number. I had one member, young adult around 24 (I was 17/18 at the time) who had become obsessed with me, who would come into the area I worked to look at our schedule to see when I was working and he would only come golfing during these times. He also showed up at my house a couple of times unannounced. However, it wasn’t just the young members that would comment on my body, or my ‘work ethic,’ in a sexual way. Older members would constantly ask for my number, I would say, “I am too young for you,” as I am an employee so I still have to be respectful, and they would counter with “Oh honey, you are just my type.” Again, being an employee it was an unwritten expectation that I would not report this type of behavior as they were the people with the money who kept me in a job.
However, it wasn’t just the members who harassed me at work, the one time I did report was because of another staff member. The head chef at this golf club would come down the pro shop where I worked (which had nothing to do with food!) and would grab my hands and kiss them, would comment on my ass as I walked away. One day he followed me out to the parking lot hounding me for my number; I might add here, he was married! All the while, in all these examples I am providing, I always said no thank you. When he grabbed my hand and kissed it, “no thank you,” when he commented on my body, “no thank you,” when he asked for my number, “no thank you.” Thus, I reported it to my boss, whose reply was, “do you want me to talk to him.” This is when I realized there was no formal policy at the club for this type of thing. It went to the general manager and our human resources person. A week later, after I reported I got called into a meeting with the GM and our HR guy, who sat me down and told me that they spoke with him, and that he was denying everything I said he had done. They also told him who had complained! So when I had asked at the beginning to keep it anonymous, they did not even consider it, they had no care for my identity, for my respect in the workplace. This golf club was a small community; it would have gotten around. One of my senior co-workers, who is a female golf pro, pulled me aside and said to me, “do you know what you are doing to his career, his family?” I figured she would be someone who would understand why I reported as she has experienced the same thing before. I felt guilty for even saying anything. Was it such a big deal? Did it really matter that I felt extremely uncomfortable every time he came into the proshop? Did it really matter that he constantly commented on my body in a sexual way? Did it really matter that he would kiss my hands when I said no? Did it really matter that he would harass me for my number? These were all the thoughts I had after reporting, and after he got a slap on the wrist.
There was no policy or formal procedure from this golf club in how to handle these scenarios. Why? In my opinion these men grew up in a culture where they were privileged enough to never experience sexual harassment. Also, they work in an industry where it really counts to be man and women really are second class citizens. As women still are not allowed onto certain golf courses in the world. It is all male entitlement. The entitlement to comment on my body, the entitlement to get away with it because you have money or you are the head chief and are liked by the higher ups. I am sure I am not the only woman at this golf club to experience this. It is just sad that men feel that my body is here for them to judge or touch. That my privacy is not considered or respected.
This is the World for a Working Woman