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Me too — a guy’s story


12/14/17



 I was 18 years old in 1965, working at Malden Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in a place that I hated. I worked in the dye-house, a real-life sweatshop. As a result of hating school and subsequently being rejected by every college that I had applied to, I knew that I did this to myself. But the dye-house itself wasn’t the worst part of that job. I had a foreman who sexually harassed me regularly. I don’t think that he meant it sexually, but he would sneak up on me and grab my butt or my crotch in front of others. Then he would laugh and walk away.

I hated it. I would have nightmares about it. I would hide between giant rolls of undyed cloth when all the machines were loaded in order to avoid him.
I know what harassment feels like, and it’s awful. I also know that my story is the rarer of the stories. The majority are from women who have had guys approach them in unwanted ways.
I get the God-given design of the male. As a kid we would laugh at cartoons of cavemen hitting women over the head and dragging them by the hair into caves. We would laugh at the notion of bosses chasing their secretaries around desks. In 1967, Sonny and Cher’s hit “The Beat Goes On” referenced “boys still chasing girls to get a kiss.” In all of these examples, males are doing the chasing and females are showing that the advances are unwanted. Back then, society showed a level of tolerance for these actions.
But times have changed and, in my opinion, for the better. Unwanted advances on anyone’s part are unacceptable and the consequences for stuff that one might have thought was not a big deal, we, now, see can ruin lives. Guys, if you have to chase or sneak a kiss or a quick pat on the butt, you have stupidly put yourself in a bad position.
Should we feel empathy for folks like Matt Lauer and Bill O’Reilly? After all “Boys will be boys.” I said earlier that I get it, but, let’s really feel bad about the individuals who, like me at Malden Mills, felt violated but couldn’t quit because we needed the money.
Oh, by the way, I had reapplied to Keene State, got accepted and never went back to Malden Mills.
Fred Bramante is the past chairman and member of the NH State Board of Education. He speaks and consults on education redesign to regional, state and national organizations. 





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