It was the email that came in this morning that put me over the edge. An email from a male friend, a longtime colleague, who professed utter astonishment at all the news about “what women have had to endure” in the workplace. Not only was he astonished, but he was worried that I might have been harassed or assaulted along the way and wanted to make sure “I was all right.”
You are worried now after more than three decades of knowing me in the workplace?
If this was the only man who said similar things over the past two weeks I would simply shrug it off. But oh wait – that shrug thing. Isn’t that what we have been doing with sexual harassment and assault all along?
So nope. I am not shrugging anymore.
I am the astonished one here. Astonished that any man who knew me or worked alongside me over the last 30 plus years did not see the way I (and every other woman who wanted to get ahead or just keep her job) had to duck and dive to avoid unwanted physical advances, verbal come-ons and worse. The way I forced myself to smile at the yucky jokes and the way I blinded myself when I saw things I didn’t want to see.
There were too many times to count and the last one (a real doozy) was just a year ago.
All these things happened in plain sight. In nice offices with men who opened doors, sometimes said ma’am and proudly showcased their family photos on their desks.
It didn’t matter if I was married or single.
Being a woman was the only criteria needed.
And men – you were there. So don’t tell me now that you are worried about me.
Tell me instead that you are going to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
We need good men to call out harassment and abuse – and yes, you know what it looks like.
I am counting on you.