PUBlic humiliation


I used to work in a pub. One day a few of the customers decided to sexually harrass me (not unusual).

I politely and firmly told them to stop, my breasts are of no concern to them. I then explained why what they had said had been offensive, which they accepted.

They then changed their minds and decided to call me a liar. Once again, i explained to them what they were doing only to be asked if i was wearing any underwear.

I approached my boss and asked if she could speak to them. She told me that they were not used to a bar maid smiling and to take it on the chin.

I continued to get harrassed and lost my temper at which point my other boss told me my attitude was wrong, that I was the problem and fired me.


Annabel, Berkshire


32 Responses to “PUBlic humiliation”

  1. Matt S Says:

    People who work in bars get harassed. (People who hand around in bars get harassed.) Women get harassed for those things that make them a woman, but men get harassed for that which makes them a man. Those who continue to work in bars figure out a way to deal with it. I’m not saying it is right, I am saying it is universal.

    • Claire Says:

      The most shocking part of this post are the comments left by Matt S. I don’t know where you live or what pubs you go to but it is most certainly NOT universal to expect this behavior in pubs. I have worked in pubs in different parts of the UK, different socio-economic areas and frequented many more. I have rarely encountered behavior displayed by the customer in this post and although there is a point in this story which clearly highlights a low educated & poor manager, there is another point in that no person should have to experience sexual harassment.

    • Jaya Says:

      The pub is her place of work. She’s AT WORK. Are you one of those guys who sexually harasses women at work and thinks it’s OK because you’re drunk?

    • Matt G. Says:

      It’s not universal.

      In the bars I frequent, if you disrespect the staff, you get 86’ed. End of story.

  2. Ellie Says:

    Was this in the U.S.? If so, maybe you could sue.

  3. Ruth Says:

    Thankfully there are some good bosses out there too…and conversely and sadly, the barstaff who think it is a part of the job. No matter what the job is, or the sex of the person doing that job, inappropriate behaviour should not ensue.

    It is up to the managers to push the message that sexual harassment Is Not On. If only that attitude was more prevalent.

  4. shftwrk Says:

    @ Matt S

    I have a female friend who worked in a bar. Whenever she felt she was being harassed she went straight to the manager, who would then threaten to throw the offending patron out.

    The problem is absolutely not universal, and I would doubt very much that the harassment that men who work in bars experience equates to something similar to what women experience. Either way, to expect anyone to just put up with it, when it should be the responsibility of the employer to foster a safe and dignified working environment, is pretty appalling

    • Matt S Says:

      The problem in the story was the lack of management support, not the harassment.

      • shftwrk Says:

        bullshit. why would you be so concerned to let those who were harassing this woman off the hook? Both those who do the harassment AND the management should be accountable for their actions.

  5. Sitakali Says:

    Matt S: People who walk down the street get raped and murdered. Those who continue to walk down the street should find a way to deal with it. I’m not saying it’s right, I am saying it’s universal.

    • Matt S Says:

      Yep, I look at where I am walking, etc. And not all rape and murder is evidence of racism. So I am not sure of your point. Harassment in a bar is expected, if you are shocked you don’t get out much.

      • b.g. Says:

        I’m so glad that a man condescended to come here and explain this all to our teeny little ladybrains!

        Go derail somewhere else, asshole.

      • shftwrk Says:

        The point is that you are trying to neutralise (‘to be expected’, ‘it’s universal’) precisely what should be inflamed as ‘to be changed’. No one is pretending that harassment does not happen in bars. But you are putting yourself in the (very powerful) camp of those who would continue to foster this behaviour by accepting its existence – effectively granting it a right to exist. You are an active member of a social self-fulfilling prophecy.

  6. internetbadass Says:

    That’s part of the job description. Why do you think they hire young, attractive women to work at bars?

    Drunk, horny men want to go to places where they can drink and hit on young, attractive females. Who says they shouldn’t be able to do that?

    If you don’t like the job, find another one. The world doesn’t owe anyone a happy, safe job, house, friends, family, girlfriend/boyfriend/X-friend, vacations, a discrimination free environment, etc. The natural state of the world is nasty, short, and brutish.

    Sure, you’re free to complain to your boss about the harassment, but aren’t “owed” any better.

    • Emily Says:

      Internet baddass, they also hire young hot men to work at bars. lol. Drunk girls like to hit on a nice, young guy.

    • shftwrk Says:

      “The natural state of the world is nasty, short, and brutish.”

      If you’re going to quote Hobbes get it right.

      He argued that in a state of nature (without civilising institutions) humans are despicable creatures. He goes on to argue that we overcome this by instituting laws that are defended by a state with an internal monopoly on legitimate violence, and an obligation to defend the state against external forces. I don’t necessarily agree with all of Hobbes’ argument, but I certainly know it doesn’t reduce to how you’ve represented it.

      It follows that we should are entitled to reject the false argument that the conditions of our social world are natural and inevitable. We can make our institutions owe us what we want them to. Women deserve safe and dignified work. If current conditions do not allow for that, then we must work to overcome the kind of conservative nonsense would expect women to accept the state of our very post-natural condition.

      • Matt G. Says:

        As a Poli Sci major, I wish I could “heart” you for this response. That was eloquent and insightful.

    • Matt G. Says:

      I like to flirt as much as anybody. But the key is to do it respectfully–this includes stopping it when your attention proves unwanted, as in this anecdote. And when the person you’re trying to flirt with is the server and you’re the customer, she is essentially a captive audience. Thus, you have to tread even more carefully. Servers are expected to be courteous, which means that when they don’t like your behavior, the signs that they are displeased with you are necessarily much more subtle than in an encounter elsewhere.

  7. EmilyBites Says:

    That is such a nightmare, Annabel. I’ve worked in loads of pubs and been harassed loads too. Once I was lucky enough to have a boss who threw out a creep who grabbed my bum, but he was an unusual boss, sadly.

    I hate it when people tell you it’s YOUR problem that is causing the problem. Not the sexual harassment, but YOUR reaction to it. If you just shut up and took it like a good girl, there would be no problem. For anyone else.

  8. Emily Says:

    I thought the reason women worked at bars was for male attention – come on, don’t kid yourself! A room full of drunk older men escaping from their wives, and a young girl chooses to work in that environment?

    I want to work at a bar purely for the male attention 😛 even though i’d be too shy.

  9. Matt S Says:

    I am not “concerned” to defend anyone, I am not trying to “neutralize” anything. I disagree that this is a significant case of sexual harassment. People in bars get drunk, they often get drunk while looking for sex. They are going to say and do things that are not appropriate elsewhere. There are a large range of bars, from seedy get drunk fast and cheep to high class show off by spending way too much for the latest overpriced alcohol of the month. It is the job of management to set the rules of behavior, but she also needed to learn how to deal with things. Maybe the guy was impossible and the bouncer was needed, maybe he was just fine and she just did not know how to handle something. We don’t know at all. So I made a general comment about the general idea of bars.

    • shftwrk Says:

      Seems it’s not such a big step from ‘it happens, just accept’, to ‘it must somehow be her fault’.

      What a spineless load of crap.

      • Matt S Says:

        Seems to me that it is an enormous leap from “this is what happens” to “it is their fault”. And I don’t know that I said “just accept”. I said learn how to deal with it. One way of dealing is finding a way to say “no” and “keep your hands off me” that actually works. She was clearly unable to handle the situation. As I said earlier on she needed more management support. That can be to tell her how to handle things, to help her learn which people will be a problem and head it off, etc.

        It is a bar. Her money is going to come from tips. And in the real world she is going to have to figure out what trade-offs she wants and can handle. There are people who are able to look sexy for the tips and look unavailable to keep creeps away.

      • shftwrk Says:

        It is outrageously inadequate to talk about this issue as though the most important element is how the woman reacts to this behaviour. By focusing on the individual woman you discount the actions of the perpetrators (who you seem quite fixated on omitting from responsibility), and the management (who admittedly we both agree this is at fault).

        But more significantly than this you are defending the existence of social spaces and practices that put women into a degrading position. This should not be a matter of women to making individual choices over whether to earn a living in a degrading environment or not. It should be about how we as a society and a culture are going to eliminate the possibility of degrading work conditions.

        Yes it is a bar, but there are no grounds on which to defend it as a site for a legitimised form of social abuse. The culture of bars (i.e. the culture of men at bars) must be made to change.

        To suggest you are not defending or neutralising something that is manifestly unjust is a matter of extreme bad faith.

    • Matt G. Says:

      In vino, veritas.

      Ergo, if you act like an asshole when you’re drunk, you’re just a shy asshole while you’re sober.

  10. Matt S Says:

    Well, shftwr, at least you are nice about calling me a liar and a misogynist. Sorry, but I don’t know how to change society such that people don’t drink and try to pick up sex partners. And I am not “fixated” in omitting the responsibility of the harasser, I am more interested in talking about things that can change. The harasser did not post anything and is not around to talk to.

    As to whether in some fairytale land this should be about changing society I don’t know, but in this world in this blog thread it is about what happened to some woman and what she did. And the choices she makes will affect her life far more than your desire to change society will.

    As I said, she can learn methods to head off harassment or to stop it. That will do more than our working to prevent humans from getting drunk. She can learn how to get management to back her up or to find a job where they will, that will do more than your desire to change human nature.

    And as I said, and as I suspect you know, women harass in bars, men are harassed in bars, this really is not about the oppressive male dominated society destroying poor helpless women.

    • shftwrk Says:

      Getting drunk and having sex is not the issue. This is about the power to demean people – who has it, under what conditions, to what affect, and what we can do to change this. That you lack the imagination to approach this problem is unsurprising, especially if you are going to demean real change as some kind of childish fantasy.

      If you want to get serious you might want to start with checking your own behaviour and that of your friends, intervening when you witness something like this, complaining to management yourself, not frequenting bars where you know this behaviour happens, demanding better work protection laws, and actively listening to women when they are either trying to convey experiences like this or suggesting things that you might do to help change thing like bar culture.

  11. Desenada Says:

    Once a woman has turned down your advances, if you keep pushing the issue and she keeps saying no, it’s not “trying to pick up a sex partner” anymore. It’s harassment.

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