Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I have been on the water again today doing the last ecotours of the year for students. Yesterday I was not at my best. I was sad about the loss of my dog, worried about my in-laws, and feeling quite put out by what I consider to be unprofessional behavior by a fellow on the boat.

This particular fellow is in a position of authority. He is competent at what he does. What is bothering me is his continual flirtatious comments to the teenage girls that go on the cruises. He is continually telling some how beautiful or cute they are. He makes references to how men in their forties used to marry teens so that they could have many children.

I talked to C. about this last night and expressed my concern over what I thought could be sexual harassment. At the very least, what appears to be objectifying these young girls is troubling. I am not quite sure what to do. I have thought about saying something to the boat owner. However, neither the chaperones or teachers seem to notice this and have not voiced any concerns.

Last night, C. recalled her experiences in graduate school where she was propositioned by professors and other men who were in a position of power over a graduate student. It left her feeling uncomfortable and angry. Yesterday, I had much the same feeling when I overheard the comments being made.

Al-Anon teaches me to practice the program in all aspects of my life. I have learned that judging others is not useful. Perhaps this really is none of my business. I simply don't know.


  1. maybe a one on one talk with the fellow might be inorder just to express your concerns.I'll say a prayer for you and him that guidence comes from above.

  2. As another adult on the boat, I would feel it my responsibility to ensure that the children in my vantage point were safe and not being put in harm's way. Those comments, in my opinion, are harmful.

  3. I don't believe the other adults don't notice or are not troubled by this. No one wants to say anything, that's all.

    I personally would say something directly to him. Even if nothing changes, at least he knows how I feel.

  4. If you can hear these creepy comments, it's entirely possible that even more creepy comments are being made that you can't hear, along with seemingly innocent requests for contact information. This is a potential liability issue for the owner of the boat, because a case could be made that the owner did not take adequate care in protecting the passengers.

    My opinion is that this guy is dangerous on a lot of levels. This behavior is just the tip of the iceberg.

  5. report it. you tried talking to the guy, he did not listen. write a letter with your observations to the boat owner so it is in writing.

    what if he is an offender and does something to one of those girls. you would feel miserable i imagine.

    write the letter and let it go. out of your hands.

  6. Actually, Syd, I do believe there are times to intervene, albeit with detachment. This is a potentially very serious situation, and even if there might not ultimately be anything "illegal" going on, this guy is probably making quite a few of the girls uncomfortable. I don't know if you can take him aside and speak with him directly about what you're noticing, but that might be a place to start. I dealt with a lot of harassment as a teenager and young women, and it was not pleasant in the least. Anyway, you are a good man--you'll know what to do.


  7. Imho... I always come from my pov. It makes me uncomfortable to witness what appears to be flirting with the students. Maybe I'm misinterpreting, but I wouldn't want anything to be thought of as inappropriate... again, jmho.

  8. Put it in writing. Having had things done to me when I was young I wished other adults would have been strong and available to help me. If I were in the vicinity of that man I would tell him strongly that the way he speaks to young people who see him in authority is totally inappropriate. And I would tell him that I feel it is my duty to write down everything I see and hear and let the boss know. That man should not be in the position he is in around those girls. This is everyone's business. Protecting young people is all our business. Far from being nosy, it is being responsible.

  9. I agree. I work with young people in my job, and we have no tolerance for that sort of thing. It reinforces the notion that so many young women struggle with, which is that appearance is more important than who they are inside. Also, they are vulnerable to adults who say things like that. The kids still expect the adults to be the authority figure, so that's what makes it the responsibility of the adult to behave professionally. It would help the person to know that such behavior is inappropriate. I'm sorry to hear that the teachers didn't seem to mind, although I must confess that I'm not surprised. Our girls are losing their self-respect and sense of treasuring themselves. I'll say a prayer, and you'll know what to do.
    Blessings in program.

  10. No. I think this may be a situation where it IS your business because that is very inappropriate and he IS making those girls uncomfortable and it's creepy and it's wrong.
    And the girls aren't going to speak up. This is the way it is. And if no one else does- it might have to be you.

  11. I’d trust your instincts and say something. I don’t doubt he thinks his remarks are harmless, but they’re disrespectful and inappropriate.

    And one of these girls is going to go home and say to her mother that it was a joke amongst them that there was a creepy old guy who made lecherous comments. The mother is going to think: What kind of sick men were those scientists and why did nobody call the creep on it?

    Or a girl who is looking for a father figure is going to send him the link to her Facebook page and he may be flattered and start acting out his fantasies. And things will escalate from there.

    Nobody ever wakes up on a summer morning and thinks: Let me go out and do something that will destroy my marriage and my career and lead to my being tried as a paedophile and a rapist.

    He may be creepier than you think.

  12. It is very common for people to confuse powerlessness or the principal of non-judging with passivity. This is not the case in my experience. A bad workman blames his tools. To say that activity stemming from a wise discrimination must always be disallowed because it infringes the principle of non-judging is mistaken. it is perfectly acceptable to intervene in order to prevent harm taking place. I asked a nun this question recently and she said that if the other person was unable to hear what I said, then I ought not to speak out. but if I were able to speak in such a way that the other person could really hear what I was saying, then it was perfectly all right to speak up. she said that if I was speaking in order to prevent my frustration or to punish, then I was not on the right foot. she said that if I were acting from a genuine desire to help and was not enslaved by my anger then this was a wise action. All that aside, what you could say is that “I was a little concerned about the conversations I overheard you having with the sum of the younger female passengers, and it occurred to me that it's quite a high risk choice to tolerate that kind of behavior in such a litigation heavy time, so in the interests of reducing all risks of litigation to an absolute minimum that perhaps he ought to reconsider the way in which he speaks to some of the younger female members as it could very easily give rise to complaints, and potentially cause significant losses by way of damages any of the parents or children of the offended by his remarks. And therefore upon reflection you would recommend that he refrain from flirtatious or sexualized conversation with a sexually underage women from now on, as this particular instituting can ill afford either to settle or pay damages in a sexual harassment claim. deeded the serious nature of a concern, you may find it necessary to report his behavior and to the organizing institution if it continues.” Or something like that... regardless of whether your argument has any merit, it sends a warning shot over the bow, and should act as a deterrent. Basically you are just trying to scare him into refraining. Most people will cooperate once they know the people are on to them. good luck with that. I'm sure lots of other people have noticed but had no idea what to say. so we will be doing them a favor by speaking up.

  13. I think that keeping quiet is as much a problem as speaking up. If it bothers you you could just say the truth. It makes you uncomfortable when he makes those remarks. No judgement just the truth. Then let it go.

  14. god i didnt see all those voice dictation typos.. !! oh well.. :)

  15. Hi Syd,

    You have hit head-on on the purpose of sexual harrassment - - - it is intended to 'be innocent sounding/seeming' but is not.

    My only reply to such a situation is this: I am a retired government employee myself, and served as counsel to a couple of charges within my office.

    The bottom line is: this man is breaking the law. It is ugly, not cute at all. It is also a form of sexual abuse in the early stage.

    Good luck.

    Hugs to you, and thanks for your honesty, and for caring about these young girls.

    Anonymous #1

  16. If you decide to talk to him, maybe you can start out by complimenting him for his competence, then move on to discussing the problem you're having with his other behavior and then end the conversation by repeating how competent you think he is at his job. I'm just thinking if you approach him this way he may feel less defensive and more willing to change his behavior. Just a thought.

  17. I agree with everyone, including reporting it, not just talking to him. I remember men talking to me like this, and all I have to say is that he is VERBALLY MOLESTING them. When he tells them 40 year old men married 14 year old girls to have babies, he is telling them it was acceptable that they had sex with them, and he thinks it should be now. Point Blank. I know you get that, but I just want to reiterate. Visual, anyone? He wants them to visualize it like he does. I bet he has barely legal or child porn in his possession. Bad news. Protect those little girls.

  18. Amen to all of the above Syd. Prayers being said for you to figure out how to handle this the best way.

  19. Please do speak up - talk to the owner of the boat, or anyone else who has the ability to modify this guy's behavior through the use of some sort of consequence.
    I think it's more likely that everyone does notice it, it's just that no-one wants to speak up, make a fuss - which gives a creep of that sort license to operate. If you aren't sure what to do, call the nearest women's centre, and ask them for suggestions.
    Please do intervene, Syd - teenage girls need men like you to stand up for them in the face of this kind of inappropriate behavior.

  20. I agree with Technobabe & the rest....protecting innocent children is ALL of our responsibilities..
    That troubled feeling is your moral concious telling you this behavior is NOT OK & you have every right & obligation to stand up for those girls who can not or don't know how to do anything about it.

    Pray for guidance to have strength & we will to!

  21. Al-Anon has also given me a voice. I don't have to stand silently by to watch abuse to me or others. How you handle this is the decision. I know God has given you the answer already, my friend. "Courage to change the things I can..." Love and peace.

  22. I will say a prayer for you Syd. You are in a difficult situation, but I think you know that "accepting" his behavior is not the right thing to do.

  23. Would anyone else on board have noticed if you threw the man overboard ? ugh.Sometimes we just have to remember to be grateful we are not as ignorant and disrespectful as some other humans can be on this planet.I hear you.

    You have a good sense of yourself Syd,that is worth easing your trouble a little I hope.Thank you
    for sharing,as always.xo

  24. Thank you for your blog. I found it today and have been reading some past entries thru the day. I look forward to coming to your blog often.

    Today for us was about owning the things we say and nit discounting their power, so choose them wisely and use them gently, even if difficult things need to be discussed.

    And reading about your dog who just passed, we have a 14 yr old sheplab who is declining. Also have a 14 yr old cat left to me from a dear family member who passed away ... The kitty fell out of a tree and ended up with a head injury and pretty sore body in general. He has been in hospital since early today and will probably be our tomorrow. Reading about your love with your dog, and the peace and honor that went with his passing especially with my upcoming "labora of love". Thank you, and thanks for the great blog ... r&r

  25. I agree with your heart and gut. I've had that kind of experience myself recently. I was praying and meditating on what to do other than not participate with the person in the way I have, it's happened more than once and I'm VERY uncomfortable with it. I know it won't necessarily stop the behavior, but I wouldn't be honest with myself or anyone else if I just let it go on. Instead I am honest and let go of the results, and my participation.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.