Sometimes we confided in our friends or we said nothing because we were embarrassed or feared being blamed. Sexual harassment and discrimination are pervasive and not just relegated to the workplace.
Indeed, it infects every industry. I know because I’ve experienced it along with friends and colleagues. But, I don’t owe you my story along with its salacious details and neither does any woman. The details aren’t as important as why it was allowed to happen.
The subject, though, finally seems to have become unshackled. In order to move forward as a country, as progressives, and as human beings we need to confront what was once whispered in order to eradicate it and, finally, achieve true equality, an end to the “good old boy network,” and the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment.
Political party affiliation does not matter when discussing sexism or misogynism. It infects all parties, in every part of America.
To the uninformed, I will provide a short list of reasons why women hide in the shadows.
- Power: Women lack power and 90-100% of management are male.
- Human Resources (HR): HR is not your friend. They are there to protect the company, not you.
- Retaliation: Complaining often results in suddenly finding yourself receiving increasingly poor Performance Evaluations that will lead toward a “justifiable” firing.
- Black Balled: People talk and sure enough a woman will be labeled as a liar or “difficult,” thereby, making it nearly impossible to secure another job.
The most infuriating explanation why women don’t step forward is what I call, “Whataboutism.” Whataboutism is the phenomenon where a woman confides in a male and finds her story belittled because her friend responds with, “What about…”that happened to them?”
“What about when women don’t get laid off because they’re women?” “What about when I didn’t get a raise because my boss didn’t like me?” “What about he’s really a good guy and you just “took it the wrong way.” “What about this is what every woman has to go through in a male dominated field?” “What about how I’ve suffered more because (insert excuse)?”
It’s a herculean task not to scream whenever I hear “what about.” I want to shout, “What about accountability?” “What about men keeping their hands to themselves?” “What about not having to endure lewd insults from co-workers because I was finally recognized for an exemplary performance?” “What about how my reputation was smeared?” “What about the emotional damage that will linger?” “What about my career suffering because a man thinks he’s better than me by virtue of anatomy?” “What about constantly having to tolerate ‘mansplaining’ because it’s assumed that I don’t possess the intelligence to understand the discussion?” “What about when (insert name) was given credit for my idea because of ‘hepeated’?”
By opening a public dialogue and eradicating the male urge to “what about,” we can start the progression toward equality. A place, as Senator Warren has described, where “everyone has a seat at the table.” I would add that not just a seat is needed, but equal deference for each seat. If each person’s insights are not given equal weight then we will just revert to the old system.
An Equal Rights Amendment would catapult women farther in the workplace than we’ve ever been. Not only would we see equal pay for equal work, but also workplace equality would be a constitutional right; whereby, no man or company would dare violate the constitution rather than EEOC rules, which are routinely surreptitiously crossed.
We are nowhere near that point, yet, but we are entering the infant stages.
@BossBird17 lives in the United States; loves animals, books, and movies; believes pizza is another food group; and is owned by a parrot.