I used to teach seminars relating to discrimination in the workplace, specifically, sexual harassment. You know, those annoying people brought in to identify improper workplace behavior and talk about how to respond, etc.
Well, one fine Spring I was sent to a company to teach a series of these seminars. I stood, mostly, in front of a class for three hours at a pop. What was different about this time was that I was pregnant — with twins. You know how women “show” more quickly with the second pregnancy? Well, with twins it’s even faster. However, I hadn’t told anyone at my job that I was pregnant — again. One pregnancy was tolerated in my white shoe law firm, but two? Oh no.
So I was trying to do the “pregnant professional woman hide your pregnancy” thing as long as possible. I was about four months along, looked bigger, but mostly in the belly, hips and thighs. There was one skirt suit I could still wear if I didn’t button it. It was the kind with a longish jacket that required no blouse and a matching skirt just above the knees. Professional, but not stuffy. But, because of the pregnancy, it was tight. Yeah, that skirt was screaming.
And I was tired. I had a two hour commute to the location of this particular seminar and I was pregnant and bloated and uncomfortable in my non-maternity clothes. Plus, I couldn’t even complain to anybody because it was my big secret.
At the seminar I talked incessantly about the hostile work environment kind of sexual harassment where it’s not that someone is saying have sex with me to keep your job, but where the environment is sexually charged and makes an employee uncomfortable because of his/her gender. You know, unwanted touching, dirty jokes, leering, flashing, and I talked about how dressing provocatively could make co-workers uncomfortable. I noted that sometimes bad behavior is not legally actionable harassment but there simply needs to be a conversation. Often the offending party doesn’t even know he or she has made someone uncomfortable, I explained. These required seminars can be a pain, but the important thing employees are supposed to get out of them is that they understand the law a bit, along with the corporate policies, and most importantly, they know what to do if there is a — situation.
The seminars went well, people stayed awake and were engaged. I felt like crap, though. and was so, so very tired. Any chance I got during the program, I would perch on a desk.
After the seminar, a woman came up to me to ask a question, or so I thought. She really wanted to inform me that while I was up front discussing inappropriate behavior, and how people act and dress in ways at work that make others uncomfortable,
. . . the whole class could see up my too tight skirt.
I played it off and said that this is exactly what I was talking about. My “reveal” was accidental and I, of course, did not mean to make anyone uncomfortable. I thanked her for coming forward and offered my apologies if I offended her. (By her demeanor, I clearly had offended her.) She said that she thought I’d want to know since I was talking about all “that stuff.”
Epilogue: Told work about my pregnancy when I got back. Switched to maternity clothes immediately.
Just Me With . . . an unintentional crotch shot and the ability to laugh at myself.