I’ve been working now for several years in the Parliament. I work in a male dominated policy area.
I have a colleague who for many years, insists on kissing my cheek every time he sees me, be it crossing each other in the corridor or at the snack bar.
Cheek kissing is common in my country, but in his it is not done, especially not every day within a workplace context.
Many times he used the “cheek kissing opportunity” to touch something else, such as playfully touching my neckline. I always felt very disgusted.
Even though I do not work directly with him, he has good relations with many of the other people, mainly men, who I work with.
One day, when he was alone, I told him that I did not want to cheek kiss anymore, as I believed that the EP was not the right place for such behaviour.
Today I was sitting in a meeting with several men he knows. He came and shook their hands. When I offered mine, he refused.
Then, in front of all my colleagues, he told me that he was not shaking my hand because I said that I would not accept more cheek kissing.
I replied by saying that he was being impolite, and that I would not accept such humiliation. He was using the cheek kissing as a pretext for touching me in an inappropriate way, which made me feel uncomfortable and I told him this.
He pulled me aside and accused me of lying, forbidding me to say anything to the other men present. He then turned to my colleagues and continued his accusations about me.
Later, he accused me of standing up for myself because of the environment in the Parliament brought about because of this blog.
When he finally left, my male colleagues applauded me for my reaction to such an uncomfortable situation. I’m sure at least one of them believed I was exaggerating by not letting the guy cheek kiss me, but the rest were very supportive.
I feel frustrated, but at least I feel also relieved for not accepting to have someone impose themselves upon me.