The first time I experienced it, I was standing in a work training classroom of almost all men. I was the head honcho’s assistant and it was my turn to share my project from the morning. All 33 men looked up at me from their seated positions, including the guest lecturer. Before I even said a word, the lecturer whistled and said, “I wish she was my assistant, if you know what I mean.” He winked and the men all threw their heads back in laughter. I felt an inch tall.
A few years later I took a philosophy class in college. After class one day I stayed a few extra minutes to load up my backpack full of hefty books. It always took some maneuvering and I think my professor noticed that. As soon as everyone left the room, he came uncomfortably close to me. Without warning, he pulled me into a long, lingering hug, with no chance to pull away. I was shocked. I didn’t know how to respond in the moment, but afterward I felt helpless, dirty and used as I silently rushed to my next class.
Add to this my experience in work environments where sexually crude joking, comments and conversations filled my ears on an almost daily basis and it’s no wonder that I’ve wrestled with shame and wondering if what I have to offer the world is worth anything.
As I’ve heard other women share their #metoo stories, my heart breaks. I am thankful for those who speak out and the news today of The Silence Breakers winning Time’s Person of the Year. It brought me to tears. Keep speaking, brave women. There is quite a battle ahead of us.