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Monday, October 3, 2022
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WOMAN’S UNDERWEAR STOLEN BY OLDER COLLEAGUES AGAIN AND AGAIN

I work in a very male dominated industry. While my specific job role is nearly 50/50, the type of industry that I am currently based in is on average 90% male.

Part of life in this industry is staying far away from home at work. These are not usually bad places! Lots of blokes, lots of alcohol, and lots of noise, but not a bad place to be.

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Despite the high ratio of men to women, I’ve felt safe at these places for the most part. The men are often very paternalistic (I’m 26) and sometimes a bit infantilising, but rarely (openly) misogynistic.

Until this month.

I moved to a new workplace about a month ago. The first week, I did a load of washing in the laundry facilities. I was pretty sure that I was missing a few pairs of underwear after washing them – I didn’t exactly count, but I remembered putting a few pairs of my favourite, comfiest undies into my lingerie bag.

That’s what made me realise they were missing. They’re my favourite cut, colour, brand, fabric, everything! I wanted to wear them the next morning. But they were gone – all of them. And there was nothing I could do but assume I had misplaced them. I gaslighted myself into thinking I was just silly, and my lingerie bag had been open a smidge when I got it out of the dryer so they must’ve just fallen out, right? Or maybe I never put them in at all!

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Until tonight. I’ve counted how many pairs I put in each laundry load since then. Tonight I put in four pairs – 3 of my favourites (black), 1 other pair. And when I opened the lingerie bag, the three black pairs were gone, the nude pair still there.

I raised it with management again. I’ve spoken to friends about it. I’ve spoken to men in the workplace, as a way of getting it out that it is being noticed.

And so many people give me variations of the same response. “Haha, some creepy old man is probably jerking off with them” “That’s what happens when you’re a young girl in a workplace with 50 year old men!” “Maybe you should’ve stayed in the laundry until it was done so no pervy bloke could get in there” “Some guy probably thinks it’s his lucky day to have you staying in the same camp” “Better your undies than a knock at your door!” “This happens to girls in [industry], sorry!”

I know it’s not the same as “boys will be boys”. But it feels like it. “Men are gross, men are animals, men can’t help themselves”

Firstly, give men a little more credit, and hold them to higher standards? Second, why should I be grateful to be stolen from? Because I wasn’t raped? Great. Thirdly, if this is to be expected within the industry, maybe the industry is the problem, and not 3 pairs of women’s knickers?

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I know this is such a first world problem, and I know I really shouldn’t be bothered by it. But I honestly feel kind of gross.

This post is less about the theft itself – yeah, shit happens, pervs are everywhere. It’s more venting about the responses I’ve gotten, from men AND women.

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