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Opinion: How being harassed and mistreated by men can scar a woman in unexpected ways

Sexual assault survivors along with their supporters protest in Hollywood on Nov. 12.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Like most women, I was groped and grabbed in my 20s and had to repeatedly fend off unwanted sexual advances by men who felt there was no harm in trying, as they knew they would get away with it. This was nearly 50 years ago. (“Stop using Bill Clinton to hammer on liberals. Sexual harassment is a man problem, not a partisan one,” Nov. 21)

But let us not forget another insidious aspect of the unequal balance between men and women in the workplace.

In my 40s, as a highly experienced and well-known academic within my narrow field of specialty, I was hired as an assistant professor at one of our state universities. Nearly all my male colleagues, some just a few years older than I was, treated me in a patronizing manner, discounting my expertise and expecting me to basically remain invisible.

Their attitude was not borderline or actual criminal behavior but was assuredly soul-scorching. Now in my 70s, I can report that I remain scarred and bitter from the pervasive anti-female hostility that I experienced throughout my career.

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Barbara Kroll, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Columnist Robin Abcarian writes this is not a political problem but a man problem. OK, most men get it.

Since this is a man problem, then men must solve the problem in their own way.

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A man must understand that he should never conference with a woman alone unless the door is open. A man must understand that anything he says or does can and will be used against him in a court of law. A man must understand that office romances and office parties can be toxic.

A man must understand that even an accusation of sexual harassment could destroy his career. A man must understand that no one is worth his family, his career, his life.

Mark Walker, Chino Hills

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To the editor: “Are we to be friends or lovers?” Vic would tilt back in his executive chair and grin at me, his secretary. “Friends or lovers?”

I never answered him. Instead, I quickly went to the owner of the company and complained. To assuage executive embarrassment, I lost my employment within weeks.

In those terrible days, the care and feeding of my two young children was held over my head, and the ability of providing a roof over our heads lay in the financial balance.

Sexual advances are an easy accomplishment for a man with financial power over a woman. However, if not sexually gratified, the man can indulge himself with myriad fun retaliations on the woman.

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Jacqueline Kerr, Los Feliz

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