Sunday, August 5, 2007

Time Out

I'm a big proponent of introspection, and maybe to my detriment - my main justification is to ensure that all can be learned/digested/processed from the past. My friends more accurately know this introspection as my vice - I have a hard time letting things go. It took me nearly 5 years to burn my ex's stuff, and we still "talk" - occasionally in the sense of Hi, I'm being the polite grown-up you'll never be kind of discussion, which he always verifies with some perverse statement, and there it ends. In some respects I've lucked out with other miserable failures like Darrell - he's married and I no longer have to be polite - being the pseudo ex-girlfriend, I can use his marriage as my cue to without guilt completely cut him from my life - and not a moment too soon. The one thing that still has not been removed, the bizarre thing I still hash over, is my Chem 121 TA, most have heard the story - but to this day I wonder what would I have done differently, what could I have, and is there anything I can do now to free myself from this - and in the end I guess I'm picking this venue - blogging has oft been cathartic for me , but I'm not sure what if anything this attempt at exorcism will achieve.

Like many first years students, I entered university with expectations beyond what I was capable of, and an immaturity that made it all the more tragic, but I understand it was a growing experience - one I wouldn't change, well maybe I wouldn't fail Math 151 - but whatever. The only thing I would change is my dealings with my Chem 121 TA, now Dr. Iain McKenzie of Stuttgart University, Germany (so there's no doubt who I'm talking about). Iain acted outside of appropriate behaviour - sexual harassment is what I would call it - unwanted attention, or whatever you want it to be - initially when I expressed concern to a confidant - she said oh, he just has a crush on you, (a 24 y.o. having a crush on a green 1st year - 18 y.o?) but it was more then that - and my lab partners knew it - which made it all the worse. Now maybe in the end my self consciousness got the better of me when I lashed out at him during a lab - but I felt I had no other option - coming to him after the lab was not a comfortable thought, as you might imagine, and I could not accept that while I was shadowed at all times I was explicitly never helped, even when requested - I was dismissed and then he would proceed to help the other two students on my bench, chastising me if I asked them for the help that he had refused already. It continued, the looks, their laughter and jokes when Iain would stand right behind me for 4 hours of lab.

I've tried to figure out why to this day it still bugs me, what was there so unnerving about the whole experience. When I was trying to finish my Chem Minor, Iain was the prof for Chem 260 a required course - I never completed the minor, I couldn't spend 8 hours a week with him. Elsa asked me why and I explained - the sad thing is according to her this behavior was normal, he had a reputation for finding the young ones and being a little too forth coming - nausea. I still am ill about the whole thing - and maybe that's why I find being looked at horribly repulsive - to be objectified, even for that split second on a sidewalk or where have you brings back those feelings... It's not that even an apology would help at this stage in journey, and while I know from talking to others I wasn't the first or the last - maybe this act of writing, will be the beginning of his exorcism from my life, right now it just doesn't feel that way.


stitchpixie said...

you know. there's this native guy in his late 40's or 50's that works at one of my stores. and he's overly friendly. then i found out he likes touching girls. he touched one girl's butt and she freaked out at him and bit his head off and he hasn't done anything to her since. but that hasn't stopped him from harassing everyone else. so this one girl is sweet, shy, and 21. yesterday he apparently touched her crotch when she was bending over stocking things on shelves. she told him to stop and this was the third incident! the first was when he massaged her feet while she was painting her toenails at lunch. the second was when he reached into her inner shirt (she wears a vest) and put his PHONE NUMBER in her BREAST POCKET. hello?! why is this guy not fired?! because everyone's too nice to do anything. so her mom (who also works for the company) is going to have a strong word with him, then talk to the store manager, and if it happens again, she's going to go to head office. but seriously. why does it have to get so far. and so what if he stops bothering HER daughter. he's going to molest SOME poor girl.

Jenn said...

There are so many issues in play when it comes to these situations - you have companies who should have a zero tolerance policy and don't - for whatever reasons. Primarily I feel to protect the offender rather then the victim, as much as protecting themselves (the companies) - they don't see the seriousness of these actions, because they can't seem to understand how adults would do this or feel victimized. I've heard, oh it was no big deal, just get over it. The thing is it is a big deal, it does affect people. And the other aspect, the one I heard was this idea that you should be in some way flattered for the attention, like I should have been overjoyed that Iain behaved the way he did, because it's not like you get that attention every day, especially not an awkward science geek like me - so take advantage of it - what about, no! Even think back to Josh, in grade 12... he crossed the line way to many times, but because of the stigma placed on the victims the guilty are rarely dealt with.