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An Indecent Proposal (Part 1 of 2)

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The notification for an incoming email and text messages went off simultaneously. It was Mr. G following up on some research work I’d done for his organization. Mr. G’s email acknowledged that he has received the proposal, IT assessment and document management recommendation report I had sent while the text message asked me to “Please call when you are free beautiful.” I cringed at the ‘beautiful,’ thinking it was an indecent way to address me, but chalked it down to culture and environment. Some of these men threw the words ‘beautiful’ and ‘dear’ around like confetti at a wedding. It meant nothing.

I confirmed I would be available for the meeting the following morning and went back to what I was working on. The following morning I arrived at 9:45 a.m. sharp, 15 minutes early. In the waiting room I brushed off the lint from the leg of my pantsuit and jotted down notes on some key considerations raised in the report. I felt well prepared and confidently strode behind Mr. G’s secretary who came to get me 20 minutes later.

Sat across the table from Mr. G, I began to explain my methodology and the costing of my recommendations. I had brought two copies of the report and his was in front of him. Before I was 5 minutes into my presentation he lumbered over to the visitor’s chair next to mine. I felt a little uncomfortable but continued to explain. I thought perhaps I had not been adequately projecting my voice and made a mental note to do so next time. Suddenly he began to scoot closer. His voice dropped an octave as his sweaty palm held my knee and he said, “you’re very beautiful you know.” His furrowed brow was far too close, and his business shirt was bursting at the seams as the buttons fought to contain the great expanse of flesh that was his stomach.

I jerked back my chair and stood up abruptly, papers flying everywhere. My moleskin notebook landed with a loud thud and the tiny crystals from my Swavroski pen flew everywhere as the pen shattered against the metal leg of the office chair. In my most assertive voice I said, “Mr. G, this is very inappropriate. I am not comfortable Sir.”

He laughed a deep throaty laugh which degenerated into a coughing fit. I patiently waited for him to finish, refusing to bend down to gather my belongings. Assessing the situation I figured they were a sunk cost and determined I would rather lose belongings than control. “My dear, you can always be comfortable around me. I’m very rich you know. And you are very smart.”

“Thank you Sir for the opportunity to work with your organization. Please understand this is strictly a professional engagement.” I calmly explained. “I am not comfortable with you touching me in any way or with the other things you are saying.”  At least I hoped I sounded calm. My head was spinning and my armpits started to prickle with sweat. I was genuinely worried about what would happen next. And apparently I had every reason to.

This mammoth of a man reached out and made a grab for me while simultaneously positioning his dark dry lips to meet mine. Luckily he was 6’7 with a belly that protruded at least 1½ feet outwards, and I was 5’4. This worked to my advantage as I was able to turn quickly and dash towards the door. Sadly, not without his ashy lips brushing across my cheek and his grubby hand grabbing my shoulder, but that was the worst of my battle scars. Filled with hope I pulled the door handle excited for my escape.

To my dismay, nothing happened! The door had an  automatic lock that was button-activated. By chance or design the button was above my head. So instead I tried to take control of the situation with my words, in my sternest voice I threatened “Stop! What is the problem?? This is harassment. Stop or I will scream!”

 

{Part 2 coming on Thursday if enough interest has been generated in this TRUE story}

 

Zeni St. John

  • Testimony

    Part 2! Part 2!! Part 2!!!

    July 18, 2016 at 5:57 pm Reply
  • Nkiru

    Part 2!

    The ickiness of men who think they are entitled to anyone and anything because “they have money”

    July 18, 2016 at 9:00 pm Reply
  • Ceejay Charles

    🙁 Wow.. Abuja is just a very sad place. Meanwhile….Part 2? 😀

    July 18, 2016 at 9:38 pm Reply
  • Zaza

    Yaaaaaaas! Part II please!

    July 18, 2016 at 9:51 pm Reply
  • Casi Jinx

    God forbid! Sadly this is an all-too-familiar experience for all-too-many women. Part 2 please and thank you!

    July 19, 2016 at 12:52 am Reply
  • Ana Lee

    Yikes, client privilege gone too far…

    Your account reminds me of one late evening as my colleague and I were the last to leave the office, he very amicably invited me to stay the night at his place. Creepy.

    The man held a senior position where I worked, and his wife was away in France. Afraid to perhaps twist innocent intentions, I politely declined and joked I could borrow his bike and cycle home (would take me an hour). I called a cab.

    No harm done. But looking back, I hated second guessing myself when in my mind a red flag shot up. A man was being inappropriate was my judgment. Why give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Opting to ignore or downplay a situation by justifying the very behaviour that offends or makes us uncomfortable doesn’t make wrong right. And if anything was learned from the discomfort of that night, it’s that instincts serve our survival system linked to our fight or flight response – they’re not to be underrated.

    July 19, 2016 at 11:46 am Reply
    • Testimony

      Ana, women always give the benefit of doubt, that’s why there’s still an argument of how far does it need to go before it’s considered sexual harassment. But like i said….”who is going to help me if I report”.

      thank you for sharing your experience. We need more awareness! We need more platforms to speak up!

      July 19, 2016 at 1:47 pm Reply
  • Emeka Michael

    Enouuuuuuuuugh interest generated over here!!!!! When is Thursday again?

    July 19, 2016 at 11:59 am Reply
  • Testimony

    Someone left a comment on the facebook share of this post saying “thank you for your bravery in posting it. i pray the Lord has given you healing since this happened”.

    so my friend and I had a conversation about how it is so weird how our reality alters our perception. Because to be honest we really did not see it that way at all. Below are my thoughts:

    “do you know know why it’s not “brave or requires healing”? Like you said, it’s our reality so our reaction to it is soft. Not soft because we accept it but soft because this degree of harassment is “nothing”. There are people who will read this post and say “what is this one talking about?” “How is this harassment?”. For others, it might be a big deal but it has been suppressed because we don’t want to feel we have been violated. We want to feel in control.

    For me, I feel nauseous when I consider some of these actions I’ve personally experienced. I feel dirty. I feel violated. But like I said “who wan epp me”. It’d be funny to majority in our Nigerian environment that I feel that way…reality versus perception! If you were in the West you would feel differently. I hope this now gives us a clear picture of the fucked up environment we live in…

    Environment where you call office people “mommy, aunty, uncle..”

    Environment where parents’ “friends” and colleagues say or act in randy ways and no one can help you…

    Environment where men won’t help women unless they touch your butt or breast which only qualifies you for a certain level or help; then if they can kiss you, the level goes higher; not to mention the rest…

    Environment where say say things like “please lemme just feel you small” eww fuck no!…

    Environment where it’s a norm for a woman to swell parts or whole of her body for money…

    Right before I came to sit on my computer and type this, I was at a male colleague’s desk. First he said, “wow you’re so small and cute. I could just lift you up and….(the actions of what he would do followed…we will leave that to your imagination) SIGH. Then he goes “you mean you’re hiding all this?” So I ask him what exactly i’m supposed to do instead. He says “it’s like owning a luxury car and not warming it up or test driving”. I carried my legs and wakka pass!

    I could go on and on right now….but i’ll just leave this right here

    July 19, 2016 at 1:44 pm Reply
  • Ms_Galadima

    Good grief!! So gross!! I could use a few other words to describe it lol. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how intelligent you are or what your value-added is, it can all be summed up into “a beautiful girl”. It sucks, but it happens.
    I swear the first time this happened to me when I started working at home, I was confused I could not believe it!! I was so excited to close on a deal I’d been working on forever and then the call came- “meet me at Four Points so that we can conclude”. I skipped Four Points because it just seemed off and when I got to the office the next day without a signed contract, was interrogated by the whole office. My supervisor was like, “ehhh is it not just lunch? You should just go now. Do you know how much the commission is?” . I quit a week later. The way my patience is set up mehnn, kole work!! Lol
    Such an important conversation to have though! It is this disgusting thing that is part of the corporate culture, but shouldn’t be. Can’t wait for Thursday!! 🙂

    July 19, 2016 at 8:19 pm Reply
  • Sekyen

    Mine happened at the university. This cost me 2 extra years because the lecturer found me irresistible…the more I ignored his advances the more he tried to get me to date him. He had people watch my every movement in the school to see if I was dating anyone. It was a tough period for me but God saw me through. My aunt said I was dull since I couldn’t finish a law degree in 5 years… I cried almost every semester when results were out but I was determined not to put myself in a situation that I would not only sleep with a man but a married man at that. At long last he got tired and let me go 2years after my classmates had graduated. I went to law school. My mom said show the world you are not what they said you are “dull! I made it in one sitting and with ease some of my mates were still struggling with passing law school exams. That’s why I love this website because I share the writers views. Thank you for giving me an avenue to share.

    July 24, 2016 at 10:47 am Reply
      • Sekyen

        Thank you dear! It is really encouraging to know i am not the only one who has such experiences…

        July 26, 2016 at 8:39 am Reply
  • Loré

    Wow! As I was getting ready for work today, I told my sister that I had a presentation scheduled today and she asked me to read this post. The sad thing is that this happens to women more often than we think. At my old job, a male coworker bumped into me at the copy machine and even at that, I was the one who apologized since he deemed it appropriate to say nothing. He then proceeded to send me a text saying what he would like to do to my “soft, fluffy” derrière and how he would be “gentle” since I look “fragile.” I went straight to my General Manager and reported him. As a woman, she was offended and spoke to his Manager who at the end of the day did/said nothing. Collectively we need to speak up to ensure that sexual harassment is no longer normalized in the workplace.

    July 27, 2016 at 12:18 pm Reply

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