A friend shared a link to Gretchen Kelly’s blog post, The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About, about the constant & everyday sexism women are exposed to. It’s a good read. (I did NOT read the comments & since it has now been picked up by HuffPo, I would suggest not even looking at them, unless it’s to give Gretchen kudos.)
I won’t catalog all of the everyday bullshit I’ve put up with over the years, there’s no time. But I guess it can all be summed up by this one experience I had while working in a toy store. Someone complained about a male employee’s behavior against me. I had complained on multiple occasions, but it all fell on deaf ears. I was 17 & I soldiered on. I freaking loved that job.
When our district manager finally got involved, I was asked to document the behavior. I made a list of the things that came most immediately to mind. It wasn’t anywhere near exhaustive. Copies were giving to everyone on the disciplinary panel.
Every single woman cried while reading it. “I didn’t know how bad it was.” “I didn’t know you were dealing with this.”
Yes, they did know. I had told them. But everyone shrugged it off. In spite of the fact that I was a minor, everyone, me, my female coworkers & bosses, everyone shrugged it off. Because it’s so common that it’s NORMAL behavior.
Until my daughter became a teen, I never realized how much I LIE to men. Lies to de-escalate. Lies to make distance. Often lies about my husband being nearby or on the way & definitely lies about having a husband or boyfriend in times when I didn’t. And lies that are an opportunity to work my husband into a conversation (My husband LOVES that movie! etc).
It’s the sick, fucked up fact that some men will respect the idea of a husband more than they respect my comfort or wellbeing.
I recently lied to a creepy patron, because I went to the library after hours & he was lurking in the bushes (innocently using the wifi, but he hid from me & then scared me. He was recently out of prison & had been asking overly personal questions about me earlier than afternoon). In a fraction of a second, I lied & said the silent alarm had gone off. That if I didn’t call in, they’d send a cop out.
The speed which that lie rolled off my tongue was unnerving. My teen daughter saw the whole exchange. Earlier that day, I had lied & told him that I don’t USUALLY work alone, usually I have a partner, she was just out that day.
We teach kids not to lie. To always be honest. But screw that. Lie all you want, sweetie, if it gets you out of a scary situation. Hell, lie to the possibly nice guy, because you can. not. tell. which ones are going to freak out at you for giving them an honest “no, thank you”.
I know how screwed up that is, but it wasn’t born in a vacuum. Sadly, all men get to lie in the bed that their crappy brethren made, because my safety & my daughter’s safety is more important. Many, many women know how quickly things can get violent.