Friday, December 12, 2014

all sexualed up

I just emerged from a required lecture on sexual harassment. According to our office, all faculty members are required by law to attend such workshops (although I have no idea how often we must attend). I had missed the one I'd signed up for—overslept, basically, after somehow convincing myself that the lecture I'd registered for was on Friday and not Thursday. I emailed my department's office to find out which alternative lectures I could attend to make up for my absence, and the only one to fit my schedule was a Korean-language lecture set to begin while I would still be in the middle of teaching a class: the lecture was slated for 4PM today, but I would be in class until 4:45PM. The office told me this would be no problem; I wrote the Korean coordinator of the lecture and apologized in advance for my future lateness; she was very nice and said I could pop in at 5PM.

The lecture hall was in a building all the way across campus. As seemed apropos for a presentation on sexual harassment, the air inside the lecture room was humid and sweaty. The lecturer, Ms. S, was the same lady with whom I had corresponded by email. She lectured with humor, citing personal anecdotes about harassment, along with anecdotes she had heard, all while moving us through a PowerPoint slide show. The slides were mostly text: each frame would describe an incident in some detail, and our job, as the audience, was to count up how many clear instances of sexual harassment we could detect in each narrative. This was done theatrically; Ms. S would say, "Who counted three instances? Raise your hand! Four? Five?" After that, she'd reveal the actual number of instances, and her revelation would be met with the predictable "ooh"s and "aah"s of a Korean audience. In all, it was lively. I got to the hall around 4:50PM and the lecture was over by 5:20PM. I received a suryo-jeung, a certificate of completion, at the end of the course; I promptly ferried the document over to my office, and the office assistant told me he'd give the certificate back to me soon. Maybe I should frame and mount it somewhere: "This certifies that Professor Kevin Kim has received his legally required education and is how ready to sexually harass all manner of colleagues and students in venues both public and private."

I'm going to sound like a damn sexual-harassing perv for saying this, but the lady giving the lecture was wearing extremely high heels, pants that may have been a bit too tight and revealing for a middle-aged woman, and a figure-hugging sweater. Was she serious when she dressed herself for a presentation on this particular topic? Not that I have any sympathy for the Taliban's burqa-happy sartorial aesthetic, but Koreans who speak publicly normally dress in such a way as to look the part of a dignified, learned personage. This lady, by contrast, dressed in a way that matched her relaxed, humorous speaking style, but it might have been better had she worn something a little less revealing. For what it's worth, though, I didn't harass her. I simply noticed.



Charles said...

Your mental sexual harassment has been duly reported to the thought crime police. Expect your brain to be raided at any moment.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ha! Just let them try raiding my brain! Once in, there's no way out!

Jeffery Hodges

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