I was recently required to set up a new bank account. The entire process took all of one week and I really didn’t have much to complain about. During that week however, one employee decided to become my self-appointed relationship manager — getting my number off company records and whatsapping me repeatedly after 8 pm at night, with delightful ‘Hi’ texts. Nothing irks me more than a genius who thinks a text that starts and ends with ‘Hi’, makes for a good start to anything.
Maybe it was the fact that we were both Malayali and he thought we had a love connection. Maybe I was a little too friendly and charming in person (let’s face it, anyone who knows me knows that’s never the first impression I leave anyone with) or maybe he was just a typical, entitled ass, who saw no harm in helping himself to my contact details and ‘just being friendly’.
I was told I shouldn’t have gone to the bank myself and instead left it to the company rep, thereby preventing this guy from seeing what I look like. I was told people from the bank reach out all the time, that he probably didn’t mean any harm and not to make a big deal out of it. I was told to simply ignore him and let it go.
Amazing how ingrained it is in us, as Indians, to excuse someone else for overstepping. Being a woman is hard work. Why should we, on top of everything else we put up with, have to factor in the possibility of picking up a stalker when going about our daily lives? Why should I be forced to leave a task to someone else when I like to take care of my own business and am usually much more efficient at it than anyone else? The most widespread way we give up our power is by thinking we don’t have any.
My point here is to share how I went about resolving this matter, and to hopefully encourage someone who is reading this, never to simply ‘let it go’. Because for every one of us who doesn’t mind the embarrassment, time and effort involved with taking these men to task, there are hundreds of women who either cant, or wont or simply don’t know how to speak up.
So here are my ‘8 steps to deal with unwarranted attention from that bank rep/colleague/grocery clerk/ petrol attendant/delivery guy/watchman/xyz’:
- Show up with proof: do not encourage conversation with the individual, but take screenshots, proof of time and dates – anything that might help support your case. No one is simply going to take your word for it.
- Resist the urge to let it go. Do not consult anyone else – trust your gut and report it to anyone this individual might report to. I’m lucky my mum’s a warrior and would never hear of letting something like this slide.
- Upon reporting the incident, ask for follow up – what the investigation process involves and how the company plans to prevent this from happening again. It doesn’t end with just the complaint.
- Ask to see the individual yourself, look him in the eye and tell him why the liberties he took with you were wrong. Keep your self-respect, make yourself clear without having to yell or scream to get your point across.
- Demand an apology, both written and verbal – he might recall the apology the next time he thinks about doing something like this, and a written acknowledgement always holds a certain amount of weight.
- If it makes you feel better, ask someone you trust to accompany you. I favor a strong alpha female over a male companion, because we can be plenty intimidating too
- Tell other women about the incident and how the matter was handled. Hearing stories like this often motivate more women to speak up, and see a matter like this through, from start to finish.
- If the individual concerned faces serious consequences/is fired – it’s not on you. Expect them to come to you, asking you to take pity on them. Expect more drama than it’s ever worth, but stick to your guns. You did not ask for this attention, HE crossed the line. If a genuine apology is enough for you, that’s your decision. But YOU should decide where the matter ends, not him.
The sad reality is that my experience with reporting situations like these may not necessarily be yours. Different contexts, different cities, different people involved, might give your complaint no attention, ask you to stop wasting everyone’s time and only bring you embarrassment. SO WHAT? Put yourself first and I guarantee you, whatever the outcome, you will be proud of yourself for speaking up.
This article was first published as a Facebook post by the author. It has been republished here with pemission.