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    This Woman Made A Complaint About Sexual Harassment And Was Chastised For Having A "Plunging Neckline"

    Mariah Nonnemacher, 26, says she was told by a manager: "I am really sorry to tell you that ... it turns out that you were dressed provocatively with a plunging neckline."

    Mariah Nonnemacher

    Mariah Nonnemacher wearing the top she had on at the time of the incident.

    A woman who lodged a sexual harassment complaint about a member of hotel staff was then told by the manager that she should not dress "provocatively".

    Mariah Nonnemacher, a 26-year-old actor and director from Alma, Arkansas, who lives in London, visited Paris earlier this week to meet up with a friend from back home, who was on an art trip to the French capital.

    The trip was really important to her, she said, as it was a chance to meet up with her friend from her small town back home. "It was really, really great," she said. "I haven't been home in ages, so to get to see people from home is really nice."

    Nonnemacher booked into Enjoy Hostel, which was where her friend's art group was also staying. During their stay, Nonnemacher said a member of the staff made some of the women feel uncomfortable, staring at them, asking if they had boyfriends, and asking for their phone numbers.

    On the first morning they had breakfast, the man, who had brought over their food, then picked up their coffee and juice and poured it down the sink when they rejected his advances, she said.

    Nonnemacher said they initially tried to ignore his behaviour, and the next day they chose to eat breakfast elsewhere.

    However, after she said goodbye to her friend, Nonnemacher came back to the hotel to get her bags and check out. She said the same member of staff blocked her way on the stairwell, and then gestured at her chest and told her to pull her top up.

    "He said 'you're showing too much cleavage, it's not appropriate'," she told BuzzFeed News.

    "There were people in the landing and the lobby around to hear – it's embarrassing for one, and not that I should have to explain it, but I wasn't wearing anything provocative."

    Mariah Nonnemacher

    Nonnemacher said she was wearing a V-neck top, her boyfriend's plaid shirt over the top, jeans, and boots, and that her outfit was not "provocative".

    "Even if it was," she added, "it was very much victim-blaming – a ridiculous, misogynistic view."

    After checking out, she emailed the hostel to complain about her experience with the staff member, and was told by manager Paul Benichou that he would be carrying out an investigation.

    However, she was shocked by the response she then received, which read: "After investigation, I am really sorry to tell you that ... it turns out that you were dressed provocatively with a plunging neckline. This is a mistake, because when traveling and frequenting a hotel where there are many many men, it is more prudent, to avoid any harassment to dress as well."

    After she told him his response was not appropriate, she then received a second email, saying: "What kind of girl are you? You don’t recognize all what I said?! I am sorry, I can do nothing for you.

    "You do what you want at your home, but not in a public area! My hostel is not a club to date and/or to have an affair!"

    When she received the second email, Nonnemacher said she felt a "burning rage". She told BuzzFeed News: "Your chest gets red; it's a combination of being embarrassed and powerless and angry about it. You just feel like there's nothing you can do about it."

    Mariah Nonnemacher

    Nonnemacher shared the correspondence between her and the hotel on Twitter and Facebook, saying she wanted to warn other female travellers against staying there.

    "I just wanted to warn other girls who may want to stay there", she told BuzzFeed News. "If anything were to happen with one of their staff members, they don't respect personal boundaries – if you were dressed 'risqué' it's your fault. Stay away from this place – it's bad."

    When BuzzFeed News contacted Enjoy Hostel, asking Benichou to respond to his claims that management did not take sexual harassment seriously, he stood by his comments, saying: "A young lady coming to the breakfast room and dressed very provocatively. We said, 'Miss beware cause it is a public area here, with many men and we want to protect you'."

    He continued: "We have made an action of prevention. That’s all. And I was shocked that this client consider we process harassment. It was not that at all. Exactly the contrary!

    "I consider men and women are equal, strictly. But women are prey in our nice city. And need to be informed and protected. I do my job by protecting my guests.

    "I was totally surprised she feels attacked, so I said to her it was a misunderstanding, that we are well educated and fair. I [apologised.] Now this lady has decided to make the buzz on internet to destroy our reputation?! It is a nasty attitude! Not fair at all. I am disgusted."

    Hannah Al-Othman is a political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Hannah Al-Othman at

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