Being a woman right now is uncomfortable. That’s the best word to describe how I feel when every day my inbox is flooded with updates on the Harvey Weinstein saga, sexual harassment litigation updates from Uber and white papers being published about how prevalent slut shaming is online for women.
You can’t turn on the news without hearing about another reported incident of rape or sexual misconduct coming to light…in the workplace. And for that – well, I’m thankful. It’s been long enough. We’ve been quiet for far too long. I feel empowered and proud. But again, I am uncomfortable.
Why? Because of the way this narrative has affected some really important relationships I have in my life. Mostly with men. Men whom I love very much.
You know who I’m talking about…
“I voted for Trump because our country needed a change – and he would get us out of this financial crisis. I don’t like or agree with what he has said or done to women.”
“I think what Harvey Weinstein did is deplorable. It’s disgusting. But how and why didn’t these women come forward sooner? Why wouldn’t you choose to walk away from Hollywood and your career instead of being harassed?”
“I think these women who have come forward are brave, but I am sure there are some women who are taking advantage of this situation and who are going to get rich from it.”
“I know this stuff happens, but I can honestly say it doesn’t happen in my company.”
These are all sentences that have been said to me by important people in my life – men. Men who always preface this conversation with how much they support me and other women – but who always end on a note that leaves me feeling upset. And frustrated. And just plain angry.
I get it. If you’ve never been touched inappropriately in the hallways of your work, or you’ve never been called “sweetheart” or “honey” in a meeting full of your peers, or been asked what size bra you wear – it’s hard to imagine how you would act. Common sense tells all of us that we would fight back when a male colleague tries to force his way into our hotel room at a business convention or we would tell our boss when a client asks us to wear that blue dress he likes so much that accentuates our curves.
We wouldn’t take it. We would slap someone. We would run. We would quit. We would TELL.
But clearly – that hasn’t been the case. I’m not here to debate why or to reiterate for the hundredth time the power struggle dynamic. That’s not what this blog is about. This is just explaining to the men whom I love so deeply, why I have been a little bit shorter with them in conversation, why I haven’t laughed at their jokes, why I have chosen to pull away a bit sooner during our good-bye hugs.
Because quite frankly – you are making it worse. You’re making me resent you. And yes, even to my loving husband, wonderful father and amazing brother – you’re making me love you just a little less.
Don’t judge, don’t assume, don’t roll your eyes, don’t laugh it off – just listen. Don’t lead with a caveat when subtly defending a sexual predator who has been accused by lists of women for misconduct. Don’t tell me these men are smart and talented (while acknowledging they have “other” faults). Don’t tell me these women should have spoken up. Just stop! Listen and realize that most of you don’t worry about being assaulted or raped on a weekly, if not daily basis. You don’t have to hear men cat calling you in front of your teenage daughter and say things like, “Hey baby, I would love some alone time with you and then I can move onto your daughter.” You’ve probably never been called “aggressive” when you spoke your mind or been asked to take notes in a meeting when you are one of the most senior people in the room. You haven’t been told that you would get further in the workplace if you would talk less or wear your hair down more.
So stop with the remarks. Stop trying to fill the void with your justifications or assumptions. Stop pretending you understand the full picture.
Just tell me you believe me. And know deep down, that at some level — every woman in your life has gone through something like this. Many times.
I’m sorry if you are sick of reading about it, hearing about on the news or discussing it at parties. I’m sorry it makes you feel awkward around us. But this isn’t about you. This is about bringing this to light over and over again until it STOPS.
To all the men I love – please listen more and stop making me love you less.
5 CommentsLeave a comment
Wow, that was so well said! And it’s really a critical point. These sentiments can be said about every issue that effects women and gender equality even when they are not making the headlines every day.
One of the reasons that women have a harder time collectively standing up for their rights more than other minorities is that we are inextricably linked by the very people who oppress us. Men are our brothers, our fathers, our boyfriend’s and our husbands. Women are not a community of people that lives together separately from those who oppress us where we are all experiencing the same issues and communicate with one another. This makes it more difficult for all of us to understand what is happening to us and to act as a united front. That is also why blogs like this are so vitally important.
I thank the woman who wrote this and the woman or women that created the blog. I think this technology has the power to help women form the community we desperately need to help us move forward.
Thank you for this. I have been struggling to put into words the feeling in my gut while speaking with not only the men in my life but the women who also say these things. It turns me off and makes me “love them less”. It hurts; it feels like if I were to say that I am a part of this #metoo movement, there would be more judgment than support from those who I consider my closest allies. Thank you.
I so relate with this Samantha. I have so many #metoo incidents, I fear no one would believe me and that’s so painful. I started to think I had a “fuck me” sign taped to my back. It’s a relief to be a senior and be relatively invisible. But would you believe it, I and other women still get unwanted attention at the senior housing community where I live! The elevator can be a dangerous place.
I have two teen daughters. I struggle to explain why any otherwise “good” man would be willing to overlook despicable treatment of women because they agree with other aspects of someone’s politics or career. These “good” men would not behave like those accused of sexual harassment and/or assault. They would defend and protect my girls with their lives. My girls know this. But they also know that some of these same men continue to dismiss the ever-growing evidence that this attitude hurts all of us- women, girls, and the “good” men who love them.
I agree with what you’re are saying 100%! It just make you mad sometimes. Who are we to judge the reasons someone tells or does not tell their story? It’s our choice. As you stated, this is something that at some point in our lives every woman has went through; a crude comment here, a sexual joke there, a gesture that was meant to be playful, and these are the nicer situations. Some of us have known the much darker side of the equation. No one has the right to make fun of that! No one has the right to judge why someone was not “brave” enough to come forward (regardless if they are in the public eye or not) and tell how they were violated. People survive and deal with things the best way they can. It’s not something that EVER goes away. And people (not just men) have the nerve to say they are tired of hearing about it. So…. as a nation we aren’t tired of hearing about who’s dating whom, what fashions to wear, the latest new fad diet, seeing pics of someone we don’t even know’s vacation or even what our neighbor had for dinner, but …we want the people speaking out about an injustice done to them to get over it and shut up? How man of us have turned our backs, or shut off the T’V or radio? WOW… yeah really feeling proud to be HUMAN right now!!!