Flight attendants are being sexually harassed all the time, and it’s unacceptable
For the first time, the flight attendants’ union surveyed their members about sexual harassment on the job. The results are staggering and so, so repulsive. A whopping 68% of flight attendants reported being harassed. That includes (among other things) lewd comments, groping, and propositioning.
Here’s what needs to be taken away from this survey. More than two thirds of the flight attendants who answered the survey said that they were verbally sexually harassed by passengers within the last year. 18% percent said that they were physically harassed. The comments that were made towards them were described as “nasty, unwanted, lewd [and] crude.” The physical abuse included having their breasts, behind, and crotch “touched, felt, pulled, grabbed, groped, slapped, rubbed, and fondled.”
Flight attendants also reported that they were shown porn videos, propositioned for sex, and asked to perform sexual favors.
“I used to get cornered in the back galley and asked what my hottest layover was,” Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson told CNN Money. “When I started flying I used to get asked if I was a member of the mile high club. That was a common quip from a passenger.” She called the sexual harassment of flight attendants “a silent epidemic in our country.”
“This is an industry that is steeped in a sexist past,” Nelson explained. “The airlines for a very long time sold tickets based on defining air travel in a sexual way and oftentimes flight attendants were the object of that.”
Some airlines are attempting to address this awful problem. Delta Airlines is adding additional training for their employees to help them deal with these situations. United Airlines, American Airlines, and Spirit Airlines sent out emails “condemning” harassment.
Alaska Airlines, meanwhile, banned a man from ever using their airline again after he harassed a flight attendant (now THAT’S more like it). The abuser has since complained about “reverse discrimination against men,” and excuse me while I go vomit somewhere.
Hopefully airlines take a very serious, proactive approach to this issue and make sure that their employees feel safe. Also, c’mon men. Just do better. Do so, so much better.