I’ve been a tiny bit reticent to jump into the “me, too” fray for one seriously messed-up reason: what happened to me wasn’t *that* bad. Like, it could have been so much worse.
When you feel like being harassed instead of physically assaulted means you maybe don’t have a right to be upset? That’s all kinds of systemic sexism, like layers of being told “it’s not that big of a deal” have grown into our skin, becoming part of us.
So let’s talk about the “it’s not big enough of a deal to report” stuff. Like the boss who came up behind 20-year-old me and started rubbing my shoulders. “You’re so tense,” he said. (Note: Yes, I was tense because my 50-year-old boss just started massaging me.) “You should come over to the house and sit in the hot tub. It will work those knots right out.”
I think I responded with a half-hearted “Ehh-huh” – just enough to make him walk away. I was 20. I didn’t know what to do. I was just a baby.
But as an adult? This is how it went down.
My Guy: “I had a great day. I figured out the fix to a big problem. I feel good. How was your day?”
Me: “On the drive into work, this guy was waving and smiling at me, right on the freeway. I finally figured out that he was adjusting his mirrors to look at my chest. Then, I got to work and had a conversation with my male coworker, who insisted that I set up a meeting for him. I refused, since the meeting had nothing to do with me. But he wouldn’t let it go. So I ended up yelling, ‘I AM NOT YOUR SECRETARY’ into the phone before hanging up and slamming my head against my desk. Then, I figured out how to fix a big problem. Nobody paid attention to my fix until a male coworker half promoted it / half claimed it as his own idea. My boss later thanked me for my work but called me “kiddo.” Then, on the way out of the parking garage, I got behind Creepy Rajeev, who was driving 2 miles per hour because he had his window down and was driving alongside and talking to every woman walking to her car. He followed four different women. It took me 20 minutes to get out of the garage. I AM SO FUCKING TIRED.”
Just think of how much more women could accomplish if we weren’t dealing with this bullshit every day. Because all those tiny moments of gritting teeth, of pep talks in the mirror in the ladies’ room? They take a lot of mental and emotional energy. And now? NOW WE ARE TIRED.
And done. We’re done.