I think it’s safe to say that anyone with a pulse has heard about the latest Hollywood scandal. This time, it really does constitute a scandal. This isn’t about yet another Hollywood divorce or drinking problem or their latest social awareness agenda being rammed down the throats of John Q. Public because some starlet wants the rest of us to be better people. This time it’s real…and it struck a collective nerve amongst women.
We all know that I have little to no use for Hollywood and it’s golden standard in general, but I will not victim shame. Ever. EVER. Let’s start there.
Let my next point be this; most men I know personally would never knowingly treat another human being this way.
Let me move on to the statistic that 1 in 4 women have been abused/assaulted. This does not include harassment.
Let me take the next step of stating that this particular statistic is grossly distorted since there is a staggering number of assaults that go unreported.
Let me be clear in stating that the women that do go forward with pressing charges have their lives ripped apart in what can only be termed as a second violation during the trial. Their clothes, their relationships, their work habits, their alcohol intake, their friendships, their spending…and the list goes on and on of their possible contribution to an event which will never be forgotten and the damage will never fully heal.
My husband was angry when we were watching the news and the outpouring of names that seemed to explode in a cataclysmic lava seething under the surface eruptive fashion. He was disgusted by the fact that men could do this. That men have done this. That men continue to do this. This anger was articulated summarily as “So all men right?” He’s pissed. He’s tired of watching the world tear it self stupid just like the rest of us. And right, wrong or indifferent I think he nailed it.
Here’s my answer. No. Not all men. Most men know better. Actually, let me reframe that – most men I know would sooner tear their own testicles off than treat a woman this way. This isn’t about divvying up the home chore list or holding a door open for a woman who gives you stink eye because she feels it’s sexist. That’s her issue. I prefer having the door opened for me, because I open the door for other people. It’s pretty clean cut – gender be damned.
But the men who do engage in this behavior (or women – which I’ll hit in about one minute), you leave a permanent blemish.
If your social media page has erupted in #metoo hashtags then it’s time to take a look at what’s going on and start asking questions instead of assuming that women are just ornery.
We are ornery and we’ve got every reason to be ornery. We’ve tolerated this since time began. And once upon a time; our safety and well being and ability to defend ourselves or feed ourselves was intrinsically tied to a man. This fact has altered as society has progressed. Sorry/not sorry. This doesn’t negate the fact that women love their husbands. We love them but we are more on equal footing in terms of providing and workload and still we’re not taken seriously. I’ve never heard my husband come home complaining that some woman he was discussing business with couldn’t meet his eyes while he was talking because she was too busy looking at other body parts. It’s never happened. Probably never will. Still we’re expected to put up with this crap. In all of my years of working, I’ve never heard a man be told that they’d get a lot farther if they smiled/wore shorter dresses/gave more hugs/went to the bar after work/played it more like one of the boys (my particular favorite).
A person my Dad knew told him when I was eleven, “she’s got quite the body”. I was eleven. ELEVEN.
My first job was in a local store at fourteen years old. I started in the beginning of my freshman year of high school shortly after school started in September. When Thanksgiving rolled around I was given the costume I was expected to wear through Christmas. It was an elf costume with a skirt so short it barely covered my backside. I tried to wear leggings and was thoroughly chastised since the required uniform was red tights under the green tunic and nothing else. Men I knew and respected would ask me to pick up dropped items and I would go home angry; mad as hell and usually in tears at the unfairness of it – at the sheer hypocrisy of it all. Good girls don’t. Good girls listen. Hey honey, I dropped the anniversary card I was getting for my wife, can you pick it up? Good girls…what? Do? Don’t? Tell you to ram it where the sun don’t shine? What the hell do good girls do in that scenario? So one night I finally exploded in anger and was sent home and told not to come back. That is until my mountain of a father walked straight up to the owner and told him that no one would make me dress that way and if he had to have this conversation again it would be his lawyer speaking to the press. This was the only way I was taken seriously. I was old enough to be objectified in a disgusting manner but too young to be taken seriously when I demanded that it stop.
At my next job, I was told that a customer’s hand on my ass was accidental and not to cause trouble.
At twenty, I was cornered in a stairwell of a bar I worked in by a drunken patron. He pinned me against the wall with his bear like body and he roamed his hands up and down my torso. His body pressed mine into a wall and he slid his sweaty hands under my shirt, groping blindly; whispering that he noticed me looking at him. For the record, I hadn’t noticed him at all until I smelled him He was panting heavily directly behind me in a dark stairwell. Within seconds his smelly, sweaty, booze coming out of his pores body slammed mine into the wall. My head hit the wall so hard that I saw stars.
At twenty-two I was told that I should just listen to the locker room banter if I wanted to keep my job.
At twenty-six, I was told I could get farther in the company if I showed a little more skin.
At twenty-seven, a former colleague that I loathed told me multiple times that a particular TV show made him think of my daughter. After the seventh mention of this, I stupidly took the bait. “Ok, fine, I give…why is that?” The response was this, “Because I was in a child molesting kind of mood. Just kidding”. I was physically pulled off him; in case anyone is wondering my response. Two men in my office had to physically remove me from this toad.
At twenty-nine, I was filing in an office where another woman (senior to me in rank) and two male colleagues were discussing something. When I needed to file something in the bottom drawer and had to physically kneel in order to put the files in the drawer; I was told by my female colleague that “while I was on my knees there were two guys close by me that could do with a little servicing since they were having a bad day”.
At thirty I was told by colleague to “sit there, shut the fuck up and look pretty”
Not once in any of these instances did I sit idly and ponder my victimhood. Not once did I shrink back into the woodwork and lament that I was of the fairer sex and what’s a poor girl to do…
I fought like a tomcat and was presented with the fact that I needed my job. If I drummed up enough commotion on these issues, I could and would be blackballed in my industry, forever branded as the trouble maker.
It’s that simple for any who wonder why; I had a child to provide for. Any one of these instances lasted no longer than one minute. That’s sixty full seconds or less that are forever etched in my mind. What bears more notice is the volume with which these events happened. It’s like the speed of a bullet. It happens fast and hard and you question yourself years later because society tells us to not make a big deal about it and THAT IS THE GOD DAMN POINT.
I stopped counting at thirty and thankfully work in a place now that would mop the floor with any activity cataloged above. I won’t get into other areas of assault because that’s personal…….
but yes #metoo
And we’ve played by the rules but the degradation hasn’t stopped. We’ve fought back only to be called man-haters. We’ve told our bosses and somehow it’s been accepted as a boys will be boys philosophy that goes back too far to count the hours, days, months and years. We told others only to be asked if we had done something to instigate this. If women get mad, we’re told to calm down because we’re getting emotional.
Was there something else we were supposed to be?
Were we supposed to be okay with any of these scenarios?
Would you be?
I doubt it.