One More #MeToo Story

I’m walking back from the post office on a crisp October afternoon, enjoying the sunshine and thinking random thoughts about what else I need to do this afternoon. My brain wanders onto the #MeToo discussions that have been going on this week. I think about some of the times it happened to me, and am grateful that none of them occurred during my college years. I start to wonder how many of my classmates weren’t so lucky, and contemplate asking the question in our class’s private Facebook group.

So of course, it’s the perfect time for a random guy sitting outside the local library to start catcalling me.

I felt the familiar clench in my stomach.

I didn’t call him out. I didn’t flip him off.

I picked up the pace and walked away from him.

And felt grateful that our building has a doorman in case the guy decided to follow me home.

Another Wednesday in an average suburban town in the USA.

It just doesn’t stop.

Working Women Stuck In The Middle – What Would You Do?

source: artist: graur razvan ionut I read “Speaking While Female” in the NY Times today, and felt a mixture of recognition, relief, frustration, and depression. Recognition – the stories told were all too familiar. Relief – that it wasn’t just me. Frustration – that nobody else seems to have solved the problem either. And depression – because it doesn’t seem like this is a problem that is going to change within my lifetime.

There’s this example from the article, to start. Something very similar happened to me at a meeting, just within the last week (not for the first time, either):

When a woman speaks in a professional setting … either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea.

It’s pretty frustrating to experience. If it happens too often, it’s easy to become demoralized and think “Why bother?”.

And even more depressing was this:

When male employees contributed ideas that brought in new revenue, they got significantly higher performance evaluations. But female employees who spoke up with equally valuable ideas did not improve their managers’ perception of their performance. Also, the more the men spoke up, the more helpful their managers believed them to be. But when women spoke up more, there was no increase in their perceived helpfulness.

So what is a woman to do? Speak up and be punished for upsetting the established power dynamic, or stay silent and locked in the status quo? Talk about a no-win situation. It’s no wonder that a woman has to work twice as hard to be thought half as good as a man.

Some have suggested the way out is for more women to start their own businesses. When you’re the boss, after all, the power dynamic is in your favor. And that solution may work for some women, but it doesn’t solve the issue for existing organizations.

Some companies (like Google) are starting to implement processes to try to deflect this built-in bias, but it remains to be seen if those tactics will work.

In the meantime, we working women are stuck in the middle.

What would you do?

This Makes Me Sad. And Angry

But frankly, not at all surprised.

In a perfect world, things wouldn’t be this way but (no surprise) we don’t live in a perfect world.

Updated (after reading the full comment thread over at Copyblogger): And to be clear I’m not at all angry at “James”. I admire her guts. I am angry that someone with talent and skills needed to become someone else in order to make a living in her chosen career. it’s a thoroughly sad commentary on how screwed up our society still is.

Sunday Morning Sexism

They say you should never blog while angry, but I am going to make an exception this morning. The Washington Post has an article out today by one Charlotte Allen that’s about the most pathetic excuse for woman-bashing I’ve seen for a long time.

It doesn’t matter that the author is herself a woman. Comments like this:

I don’t understand why more women don’t relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home.

are so thoroughly ignorant and sexist that I’m amazed the Post actually published it. What the hell were they thinking?

Why is Segregation The Answer to Sexism?

I just read that Mexico City has now joined several other locations, including cities in Japan, India, and Brazil, in adding women-only buses and subway cars to combat the ongoing problem of male sexual harassment of female passengers.

According to the article, the women seem to love it, and frankly, I can’t blame them. There’s scarcely a woman on this planet who has not been groped, pinched, handled, or leered at against her will at some point in her life (myself included), and not having to worry about that as you go to work every day would be a welcome relief.

But there’s another part of me that is angry, too. Why do women have to be segregated from men in order to be safe? Why do so many men seem to lack even the most basic sense of courtesy or respect when there is a breast or a butt in their vicinity? In short, why is is so damn hard for men to just keep their hands to themselves?

And please, spare me the “ohhh, they just can’t help themselves” bulls***. Men are perfectly capable of self-control. They are choosing otherwise. And these kinds of actions, however, well-intentioned, just reinforce the perception that a woman outside the ‘safe zone’ is an acceptable target.

Cheap Thrills in the Name of Security?

It’s Friday night and I should be kicking back with a glass of wine after a long hard week, but this caught my eye and I had to pass it on:

A striptease of sorts at a federal courthouse has an Idaho woman fuming.

While passing through security, the woman was asked to remove her bra because it had an underwire. The undergarment set off a metal detector.

The woman says she had no choice but to have her husband shield her from others so she could take off her bra. However, the embarrassment did not end there.

“I had to place my bra on the conveyor belt to go through the X-ray machine,” says Lori Platto. “When I got to the end, well, one of the security officers said to me, ‘That’s a girl. Now you can go put it on.’ I was humiliated. I feel demeaned, because I was just… what was I to do?”

The U.S. Marshal’s office says its guards followed appropriate security protocol.

Considering how common underwire bras are, I have to wonder why this particular woman got asked to remove her bra; this can’t possible be the first time they’ve had a woman go through the metal detectors wearing an underwire bra. Were the guards looking for a a cheap thrill at her expense? If so, they should all be fired.

Hat tip, Peter at PR Differently.