Why we refuse to 'just live with it'

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This ('just live with it') is a common response to complaints about teasing, seduction attempts and other such crud in the workplace.

Now, I (Jenn) happen to work in a great place. It's a small company, close-knit, where we all make a point of getting to know each other and how we feel about things. In this environment, I'm perfectly happy to tease my workmates and be teased by them. I know what they do and don't mean, and I'm comfortable with asking for clarification when I don't. I also have the skills to leave if I want to.

When I was seventeen, at university, we had a lecturer who had a habit of discussing female students in the lecture room. He discussed clothing, implied prostitution, and in at least one tutorial, asked female students if they were available on the weekend. The women (myself included) were, young and unsure of themselves, and (fresh from high school) perceived him as an authority figure. Most had little or no chance to leave if they wanted a degree - even transferring to a different university would have to wait till the end of the academic year.

In my current workplace, 'hazing', teasing and sexual innuendo have little effect on my ability to work. I know that I am not being belittled in front of others. I know that I'm not really being asked out - or that if I am, it's purely social and will have no effect on my pay or position.

At uni, I was being belittled in front of my peers, and there was a subject where my marks were considerably lower than my average. I'll leave it to the reader to decide which one.

Most workplaces are somewhere between the two situations. Most are too large for staff to know each other well. Most have some staff in positions of authority over others. Most people have reasons that they can't resign a job on the spot.

In most workplaces, hazing, teasing and innuendo affect how well people do their job, as well as how happy they are. Why should anyone be asked to 'just live with it'?