“So, are you the marketing girl?”
“Have you seen what she’s wearing today?”
“Wow, she’s put on some weight! Don’t you think she’s got a little extra junk in the trunk?”
“You do not want to miss the after party. I hear she gets real friendly after a few drinks ;)”
It’s just “locker room talk”, right? And, “What’s said in the ‘locker room’ stays in the ‘locker room’”. Too many of us believe that bullshit statement. I’m not prone to engage in social media trends, but something about the recent string of #MeToo posts has gotten to me, so here I am, engaging.
Focus in now, listen. Let’s get one thing clear from the start. To all of the #MeToos; and to all those who have ignored, eye rolled, or flat out ignored the #MeToos; and to the many, many #MeToos who are too afraid to speak up, the idea we must carefully consider is this: it’s worse than you know. It’s worse than any of us knows. I can only pray that generations from now, our ancestors will look back on even the most enlightened among us and view us as savages.
The industry in which I earn my living is, like most of them, male dominated. If you are a woman in my field, it is often assumed you are an admin, a bookkeeper, or a marketer. If you’re a man, you may be an admin or a marketer, but you may easily be any of the various sorts of manager––general, project, warehouse, logistics, etc. In other words, if you’re a man, it is accepted that you can be anything you want. And no matter what you are, nobody gives a shit what you look like.
I confess, I have a real problem when it comes social justice. It’s not that I don’t see injustice, I see it everywhere, and it’s certainly not that I don’t want justice. I just don’t know what the hell to do about it most of the time. It’s so overwhelming. I know systemic racism is real, and that I am part of the problem. I struggle to figure out how I can help make it better. I know my participation in rampant consumerism perpetuates exploitation of the poor, but alas, I am an American; consumerism, it seems, is in my DNA.
And I know my lack of action, my silence in the face of all the subtle ways sexual harassment occurs is contributing to the ongoing suppression of women, and yet…well, here is why I find myself writing to you now. I know what I can do with this one. I can speak up. The next time I’m at an industry event, trade show, technical training, or any of the many venues in which rampant “locker room talk” occurs; as the probing eyes of male colleagues wander, assess, and pick at the anatomies of female counterparts, I can speak the truth: this shit needs to stop, and it needs to start with us.
Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero in our culture because he did the impossible. He, while among the oppressed, spoke out against his oppressors. With a boot planted at his throat, he made his voice heard. And this is what the #MeToos are doing. But it should not be on them alone.
Some of us have voices that are unencumbered. Some of us are there to witness the seeds of harrassment as they’re planted. Some of us know better than to remain silent––or worse––to laugh it off as if it’s no big deal that women are constantly dehumanized in our world.
I’m committing to be a Me First. When I’m witness to the sort of banter that invariably leads to the objectification of women, I will cut it off. I will speak first. If you are reading this, and you, like me, are among the privileged, I hope you will commit to the same. The problems in this world are overwhelming, but I know we can do this simple thing. We can make this part of our world a little better. The next time Joe sales guy comments on the proportion of a female co-worker’s backside, do us all a favor; tell him to zip it, and “By the way, you’re looking a little thick in the middle yourself there, Chubbs.”