Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Instruction (SECNAVINST) 5300.26D, most recently updated on 3 January 2006, serves to “provide a comprehensive Department of the Navy (DON) policy for all military and civilian personnel on the identification, prevention, and elimination of sexual harassment and to establish regulations to enforce that policy.” Although I receive annual training on sexual harassment awareness, prevention and reporting (as mandated by this instruction), I took the time to read through it again tonight because of something a coworker told me this week. Apparently my coworker, Jimmy D., a civilian employee of the Navy for over 20 (and probably approaching 30) years, was asked to remove this picture from his office wall:
Just for the record, this picture came from a nature calendar. Jimmy loves animal photos. He also has a picture on his wall of himself swimming with dolphins. Additionally, he has this picture (similarly from a nature calendar):
He even has this silly photo on his wall (although I must admit this one is NOT from a nature calendar):
So, given the fact that Navy policy clearly requires that “unwelcome sexual behavior” must have occurred in order to be considered sexual harassment, I couldn’t resist asking Jimmy if someone had complained about the turtle picture. To my utter astonishment, nobody had complained. Jimmy’s boss simply thought it was prudent to preemptively remove the turtles just in case someone might possibly find it offensive in the future. I repeatedly encouraged Jimmy to put the picture back up, but he didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. I felt bad for everyone involved. Jimmy and his innocent love for all creatures great and small, Jimmy’s supervisor, who clearly thinks it is his responsibility to be the sexual harassment thought police (and in doing so has actually technically sexually harassed me, or at a minimum Jimmy, according to the letter of the law, by implying those turtles were doing something sexual) and especially those poor turtles. And what of those turtles? They are now hanging on MY office wall. And just to make it absolutely clear to everyone that they have no ill intentions, the turtle on the right now has a speech bubble:
So don’t worry Jimmy, I’ve got your back (but, you know, not that way).