Hello, It’s Been Awhile

folders-1238026It has been several months since I have been out here, but it’s not for a lack of wanting to take the time.  I have switched jobs, steamed through the holidays, been busy with family, and focused on projects at home.  Normal life.

I did have a conversation with a woman at our barn the other night that certainly fired me up, and had me pause.

I don’t recall how the conversation started.  It was just the two of us watching our children in a lesson, and she mentioned that she told her husband (a lawyer at a successful law firm) that he “better not talk to any women alone, and not to even hire any.”  Uh, okay.

She went on about how lives were being destroyed by the mere mention of sexual misconduct, and that there was no due process.  If a woman makes an accusation, it is immediately assumed something terrible happened, and actions are taken.  She was specifically talking about women in this instance.  I certainly recognize that sexual harassment and misconduct occurs with both males and females, but for this post, I am focusing on this woman’s comments about women in the workplace accusing men.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  I said how that line of thinking punishes women, and creates an environment where we are held back, and given less opportunity.  She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Oh well.”  Yep, that was it.  “Oh well.”  I mentioned how this was sexism, and discriminatory, and that being lawyers (she is, too) they obviously know this is against that law, but none of that made a difference, and honestly, I knew it wouldn’t.  What concerns me is that she is likely not the only person that believes this and is ACTING upon this belief.

Women already face obstacles in the working world.  To have people openly discussing not hiring women, not meeting with them one-on-one, and treating them differently because they may accuse someone of harassment is dangerous.  It sets up a system where victims don’t speak up which is basically how we got to the #metoo movement, and why so many people are now talking about their own victimization.  When there is a power culture, people under that power keep quiet to keep their jobs.  If people genuinely believe hiring women is a risk, women will only be held down further creating even more inequality.

It’s easy for this woman to say “don’t hire women” when her husband is a partner in a law firm, and they have food on the table, a home, and healthcare.  Try being a single woman, or the breadwinner trying to maintain a job and you cannot get hired or stay employed because you may claim harassment.  Imagine being looked at with suspicion simply because you are female.  This kind of environment only strengthens the opportunity for harassment and misconduct.  It favors the aggressor, and leaves victims with little to no recourse.

In a culture where this line of thinking is prevalent, we are already and always will be victims.

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#MeToo and How to Respond

There have been a litany of sexual harassment accusations recently causing many of us to reflect on our own experiences, and question how to support and change the culture around us.  Before we get into specifics on how we can help, I want to take a moment to define sexual harassment.

According the the EEOC, sexual harassment is defined as:

“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

By Sunday, October 15, Twitter was filled with stories and comments tagged #MeToo showing the magnitude of people impacted by sexual harassment, and it is still going.  The impact and span of this problem is almost incomprehensible, and can leave us wondering how to help.

I came across a great article on CNN that details exactly how we can all make a difference with small acts that result in big impacts.

Nicole Stamp wrote an opinion piece that I believe serves as a roadmap for changing the conversation and culture around unwanted sexual advances, and you can read it here.

Each of us can make a difference in changing the atmosphere and conversation around sexual harassment.  Taking a moment to follow the #MeToo campaign gives a perspective of the magnitude of the problem.  It’s a problem facing many of our wives, daughters, co-workers, sisters, grandmothers, nieces, and friends, and it’s time to shine a light in this dark corner.

I’m Gonna Make it Afterall

It’s been years.  I used to journal everyday.  It was my morning routine, along with coffee and a run.  Now, my journals are packed up, and some even gone.  But today I need to journal.  You see, I got laid off on Thursday.  To be fair, I kind of knew it could be coming, but I’ll be honest, it doesn’t change the hurt and upset.  At first, I was “fine.”  Later, I wasn’t.  Shame was holding my hand, and hell, I jumped into its lap.  I fell asleep telling myself I wasn’t good enough.  I know that line well.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say I was born believing it. Read more