Surviving Sexual Harassment

You think you have it made. You graduated top of the class from Harvard Law School, got a job at a prestigious San Francisco firm and just passed the California State Bar exam. You can smell the roses in your career path. The sky is the limit, you think. Nothing can keep you down! Then one day the managing partner introduces you to an important client, saying, “Isn’t she my cute little China girl?” Your jaw drops. You are angry but decide to let it pass. “I’ll talk to him about it later,” you tell yourself.

The more you think about it, the angrier you become at yourself for being in such a helpless situation, for not having done anything about it. It occurs to you that if you report this dashing, highly-regarded litigation partner, you could be kissing your promising career goodbye.

You aren’t alone. Just when you think you have suffered the ultimate indignity at the hands of a male colleague, you hear a story that makes your seem petty. Now that Asian women are finally being admitted into what were once bastions of White male dominance, like corporate middle-management and the legal professions, there has been an explosion of outrageous stories about the unique kind of harrassment Asian women are being subjected to. The names have been changed in the following articles to protect the victims.

“He locked the office door and followed me around the desk with a vibrator,” said J Wang, a respected litigator at a big Los Angeles law firm, “and asked if I would like to try it. It was frightening, and I was overwhelmed because this was one of the most respected litigators in town, an otherwise mature man in his mid-40s.” She reported him to her supervisor only to be told not to mention it to anyone.

Not even the solemnity of a courtroom protects Asian women from harrassment. One Pearl Harbor Day C Kawahara walked into an Orange County courtroom with a Japanese client. “Look who’s here,” said the judge. He then proceeded to spin yarns about how he’d kill Japanese during the war and make sushi out of them. “Are Japanese animals?” asked the Asian woman litigator, aghast at the judge’s tasteless humor. “For all intents and purposes, yes,” replied the judge.

“I’ve never slept with an Asian woman before,” a middle-aged white male partner remarked to an Asian woman associate. “I’ve always wondered what it would be like.”

What made the statement even more appalling was that it was said without apparent consciousness of its offensiveness within the context of a professional relationship.

Though women report that younger men are on the whole more sensitive to remarks that might be construed as harassive, they too give in to their baser instincts on occasions. “I like my meat yellow,” a drunken young white male executive blurted out during an office party. There are stories of young male associates hiding under the firm’s library tables for a peek up the skirts of women associates. “Lawyers are really kinky,” complains one disgusted victim of such shenanigans. Next

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