From #METOO to #NOTME
The #timesup and #metoo movements have really exposed the very real and dark side of everyday life for many professional women. It’s truly begun to bring sexual harassment and assault to the forefront and I’m all for it. I have a daughter. There’s not much more to be said. I want her to grow up in safe spaces where she’ll never fall prey to the unwanted advances or exploitation of men or women in positions of power or authority. As such, I raise her to be alert and cautious so to recognize it if and when she’s confronted with it but most importantly, vocal. I do the same for my sons. I want them to know the difference between being expressive and harassing or just down right annoying! I also want them to understand the gravity of consent, les we not forget that this social effort is twofold and we have a responsibility to teach our sons as well.
We carry these dangerously LOW expectations for males and on the contrary, high expectations for ourselves. Males taunt, heckle, cat call and degrade the women in their lives and we shoulder the weight of their actions and find ourselves left with misplaced guilt and confusion. Women are expected to be strong and tactful-to dismiss the bad behavior and coddle their advance. So often I’ve seen and done the same. I think we have to realize that dismantling this notion is bigger than our individual selves.
We have to understand that two important things are heavily working against us: Patriarchy is so deeply entrenched in our culture and there are women who are accepting and leveraging sex to get what they want.
For these reasons, we, in our everyday lives have to work to deconstruct these paradigms interaction by interaction.
I think its high time we move from dragging on about the problem, to a discussing the proper solution(s)
When communicating, it is important to be explicitly clear and for situations that are disruptive, uncomfortable, damaging, and unethical or illegal like sexual harassment and in some cases assault, its really important to be firm and intentional in your delivery. “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes”-Maggie Kuhn
With that being said, here are some examples of phrasing I believe demonstrate that
· Start with a strong opening-hone em in with the intent to clarify (this also gives you a moment regain yourself after you’ve been struck with utter disrespect)
-let me be clear
-Let me set the record straight
-You must be mistaken
-First of all
-I beg your pardon (think we should bring this all the way back into everyday language)
-hear me loud and clear
-Let me stop you right there
· State the reason WHY said advances are unwelcome
-maybe you are MARRIED or in a relationship. SAY THAT. You don’t have to bear the burden alone in this very moment
-perhaps you’re single and still don’t want to mingle (with them). Totally your prerogative. STATE that
- maybe this is a professional setting and you don’t want to overstep any boundaries…what boundaries you say? The boundary I just set *proceed to draw air line between yourselves*
-Remind them of who you are, who they are, and that this is unwelcomed and totally uncool
· Seek justice: of course in situations that are just off the charts and those that persist
-Document it: I’d suggest an email to yourself about it. This way, you have a time and date stamp on it. Be detailed and state how it made you feel
-Talk about it: this can be a conversation between yourself and the other person with the intent to find understanding and closure. This can also be a dialogue between someone you entrust who can at least vouch for you later. You never know if the aggressor has already built a character profile and your account is one of many!
-Reporting it: In a professional setting, there’s typically protocol in place for reporting serious concerns. If not, you can file an administrative complaint to your local EEOC office
Ladies, our continued silence in moments of discomfort only adds to the problem. I realize there are several different scenarios that can contribute to a feeling of helplessness:
· the fear of retaliation
· losing your job
· your identity being revealed
· the guilt of knowing that this allegation can possibly be career or social suicide for the other person
My hope for you all reading this is to “stay brave”!
I’m open to ideas. What were your experiences dealing with this and what responses have worked for you?
Here’s a great link on reporting street harassment
Share your thougths!
How have you combated harassment? do you have children you care for? what are you teaching them about these matters?