Listening to the Harvey Weinstein story brought back some memories. One of them is of a parenting workshop participant I had several years ago. As a Family Life Educator, in my workshops, because it’s such an important topic, I often opened up the concept of how to teach children values and sexuality. This workshop was no different.
One woman shared a story of herself as a teenager and the husband who drove her home after babysitting who touched her inappropriately. She lived in a fairly small community and the people she babysat for were the owners of the biggest employer in this town. Also her dad’s employer.
Her mother went to the husband’s wife to say what happened. Obviously her mother was upset but what happened next was even more upsetting. The boss’ wife told her that if this ever came out she would see to it that her husband would lose his job and that none of them would ever work in this town. She threatened to financially ruin the family if they tried to malign her husband.
Based on this woman’s probable age at the time of that workshop, I’m going to assume that it happened about 25 years ago.
Silence is the culprit
North Americans are justifiably horrified at how women are treated in Middle Eastern countries. In too many cultures, women lose their honor when they are raped and considered less than a person.
But North Americans somewhat live in glass houses themselves. It doesn’t make what’s going on here okay or what has been going on for so many decades after women won the vote. The silence, turning a blind eye and telling women to be quiet is reprehensible.
We can only hope that women and good men will finally stand up to powerful men and the culture of silence. We need to believe women. And men who sexually harass need to face consequences.
This happens too much
I had more than one occasion where I had to ward off the advances of a boss or client. The message was always clear that I would be punished for not playing along and that I had a bad attitude. I still remember thinking I must have done something. Honestly, it affected me.
When I was 23, living in a financially depressed area, I was lucky to even have a job. I worked for Avco financial services and my boss and I were both married. It didn’t stop him from touching my face, telling me he wished I wore shorter skirts… When I complained, within an hour they had dispatched 2 very intimidating lawyers from head office who sat me in an office and had me sign something I barely understood to get me to leave.
I was petrified to ever tell anyone what happened to me, fearing that I’d never get another job. As I write this, my stomach hurts. And yet, it was 33 years ago.
The next job I had, during my interview, they asked me if I was going to have children and if my husband was okay with me working full-time. They also wanted to know that he was okay with the salary I would get. I want to know the times have changed beyond writing laws.
If you are a woman, you stand a very good chance of having had something happen to you, not only as a teenager or a young adult. Because unlike what Donald Trump says, you don’t have to be good-looking enough for some creepoid pig to grab you by the p*ssy. You just need to be female.
No wonder there’s so much domestic violence where women think they must be silenced. No wonder women suffer from poor self-esteem. No wonder too many women are ill-equipped to guide their own daughters because they never figured it out themselves. But we can do better.
Stand up. Know your value. Demand more from the men in your lives to also speak up. If husbands and brothers do not recognize themselves as feminist let them know that’s wrong. They may never evolve but our sons and daughters will hear that argument. They will know the importance of the fact that we all should have equal footing regardless of our plumbing.
I’d love to know what you I think. Should I feel less angry about this or be more quiet? And feel free to like and share this post.
Monique works with organizations or people who want to reduce conflict to create a culture of collaboration, engagement and productivity. The most successful leaders are not infallible when faced with someone who “drives them crazy!” Her strategies to empower people to better understand each other and have better outcomes, while having fun, are appreciated by all who meet her. She draws from 30 years of crisis intervention and mental health work, she is a Level II Accredited Trainer for DISC as a Human Behavior Consultant and a Certified NLP Professional Coach. She loves meeting people and getting to know them and their industry. So feel free to reach out.