When I was young and beautiful, proper behavior was clear and understood by just about everyone. Women were treated like ladies; you opened the door for them, held an umbrella over their heads when it was raining, etc.
Performers on television shows, in those days, were held to certain, very strict, standards. If there was even a hint of impropriety he or she was summarily dismissed from the show.
Movies had the same standards. For example, a man and woman in a bedroom scene always slept in separate beds or if they were on the same bed they both had to have at least one foot on the floor. A steamy scene would be a man and woman, both in bathing suits, lying on a beach, embracing.
However, there were different standards in the factories. Most skilled tradesmen had pictures pasted inside their toolboxes that included some semi-nude pictures from "girlie" magazines. These displays were shared with their fellow employees to no doubt enhance their macho image.
Coarse language was frequently used in the factory not so much in general conversation but to more precisely emphasize shop situations, like, "it was a screwed-up job" or "the boss is a jerk." My examples are sort of timid. Typically, more four-letter words were used, but you get the idea.
This was called shop talk used among men, and never when women were around. Men treated women in the shop like they would their wives or sisters - or at least like they should treat their wives or sisters.
In those days there were certain rules, dictated by society, and you conducted yourself within those rules.
Now come today's times in which there seemingly are no rules. People today are constantly bombarded by foul language - be it on the radio, TV, or the movies. I think if you took all of the foul language out of the movies, there wouldn't be any dialog left. It also seems like there are a required number of sex scenes that are just plugged into many of the movies. They have nothing to do with the plot, but it must increase the box office take.
This may all sound like a sermon, but bear with me. While today's moral standards in society, in general, have become very loose, in the factory they have become very strict, almost lily white. Pin-ups that were once tucked away in tool boxes have all gone underground; no more foul language or any sexual references, no matter how casual, to female workers.
Failure to recognize that there is a difference between society's standards and workplace rules will almost certainly result in legal action against the company. Recent examples are the harassment suits against, and .
Here's the dilemma, as I see it. Let's say a female worker complains to her foreman that a male worker is harassing her. The foreman takes appropriate action by warning the male worker. If this doesn't correct the problem, the foreman then follows up by giving the male worker a foreman's report and maybe some time off.
Since the male worker is a union member, the union will take action and resist the foreman's report and any time off.
Now you have to ask yourself, why are the legal actions just against the company? Why not the union as well? After all, the union represents all of the workers involved. Sexual harassment is illegal and strictly against union policy. So why hasn't the union involved itself from the very beginning supporting the company?
The union must give up its chauvinistic attitude and work with the company in educating workers that there is a difference between what's morally acceptable on the outside and what's acceptable inside the factory. From its inception the union has been a male-dominated group. This has been part of the problem, and the union must change this attitude and become more insistent its membership treat women as equals.