Tonight on my drive home from visiting Aunt Vi I heard Keith Urban’s song Female. The lyrics caught my attention and I turned up the volume.
When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl
How does that hit you?
Is that such a bad thing?
When you hear a song that they play saying you run the world
Do you believe it?
Will you live to see it?
When somebody laughs and implies that she asked for it
Just cause she was wearing a skirt
Now is that how it works?
When somebody talks about how it was Adam first
Does that make you second best?
Or did he save the best for last?
Click the link above for the complete lyrics, and short interviews by the song writers Shane McAnally, Ross Cooperman, and Nicolle Gaylon. Urban has a statement there too. The piece was written in response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault claims.
The claims against people continue daily. It seems at times like a tidal wave of voices clamoring to be heard and it can be overwhelming, almost desensitizing.
Some want it to stop.
I understand that. We seem to be trapped in a bad loop, the stories of abuse overlapping each other. And worse, sometimes it’s people we’ve held in high regard being accused of outrageous behavior.
It’s hard to watch.
But here’s the thing. Each of these voices deserves to be heard. And the volume, as huge as it seems to be, is only on a small percentage of the total outrageousness that has happened for years.
For years and years.
Some of us see these stories and think that the things that happened to us aren’t that bad, not life changing nor life threatening. It was just the way things were ‘back then.’ And we don’t join in the tidal wave because we feel that what happened to us wasn’t that significant.
But by staying silent we help keep the whole truth from being told. These incidents will continue to be under reported. The problem won’t seem as big as it really is. Maybe some people will think that it has resolved itself.
Clearly it has not.
I think back to my early days at work when four of us, newly out of college, were hired on the same day for the same position. We were all management trainees, assigned periods of time in different departments. When review time came around I found out that another trainee was given a bigger raises than me. I asked why. Turns out it was because he was a young man with a family. I was a single woman. I protested but got nowhere.
Later in my early career I was working in an appraisal department, I was supposed to be trained in the work of an appraiser. Everyone in that department was male. I spent the first several weeks sitting in the office answering the phone while the men went out and did appraisal work. I complained. A vice president came down to talk to the head appraiser. I could hear voices raised in the office behind me. “What am I supposed to do with her?” When the weather got bad they sent me out with a tape measure and a clipboard to measure houses while they counted the rooms and took pictures inside.
In another department the manager in charge told me he liked my blouse while staring at my chest. I mostly tried to avoid him, and when he abruptly left the company years later I was glad and not surprised. There was no talk about why he no longer worked for us but I could guess.
Decades later I was patted on the butt by a passing manager and when I complained to management was told I probably imagined it because he was a ‘nice guy.’ Yes he was a nice guy. But I didn’t imagine it.
None of these incidents were as bad as the events claimed by Harvy Weinstein’s accusers. Or Charlie Rose’s or Bill Cosby’s. But they were events that happened to me, and probably to other women that I knew.
The culture was such that you didn’t talk about these things. Because you weren’t believed, because you needed your job. Because the men were always in places of power. And because you weren’t.
So I hope the news doesn’t move on to the next big story. I hope more women feel powerful enough to talk about what happened to them. I hope more people realize that it’s been everywhere. And more importantly, that it still is everywhere.
More people, people with power, men or women, need to make it clear that behavior that many of us have experienced will not be tolerated. I hope that people who have in the past or are still suffering from various forms of abuse will feel supported and encouraged to say something.
I hope that eyes are being opened.
Meanwhile, many thanks to songwriters McAnally, Cooperman, Gaylon and artist Urbin for writing what many of us have been feeling.
I hope this truly is the beginning of change, that the world will be significantly different when the tidal wave recedes. But darn, change is hard.
November 24, 2017 at 7:44 pm
There is no such thing as half abuse. Abuse is abuse. Yes, some abuse is more horrific than other abuses, but each degrading butt pat, each stare at your breast instead of your worth as a valuable employee, each patronizing comment, leaves its mark on our soul. Well said!
November 24, 2017 at 11:08 pm
I saw your comment on my previous blog in my email, but couldn’t find it in the blog post itself, so I am responding here. The only new blog I have is lookyealso.com. I wrote Taking Care of Mom for a few years, then Connecting Points, which is under marthagoudey.com. I keep wondering what to do with all the blogs!!
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November 26, 2017 at 12:44 pm
I heard lots of patronizing comments in my 30+ years, though I have to say most of them were in the early years…so maybe things did get better, at least in my sphere, in more recent years.
Still….I don’t think we should assume that all of this will resolve itself without everybody’s input.
November 24, 2017 at 10:07 pm
I hope that too. I haven’t heard the song but reading the lyrics made me feel that we are way past the age we say #metoo. It’s about what now? Change is hard but unless we talk, change will remain under talks. It needs to come out of the wraps.
November 26, 2017 at 12:44 pm
I think we need to make sure it doesn’t get forgotten, not swept under the rug again, that we keep talking about it. And when it happens to us I think we have to say something immediately.
November 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm
I hope that eyes are being opened as well. And you’ve endured enough of discrimination and advances. Thanks for posting.
November 26, 2017 at 12:45 pm
I’m sure it’s not over, but I do hope a little glimmer of recognition is ignited in everybody’s brains.
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November 26, 2017 at 8:01 am
I have the same hope, Dawn. I have been trying to figure out a way to blog about #metoo and tell some of my stories, and keep shying away from it. As I read this (while we were traveling), I thought that maybe it’s time.
Thank you for telling your stories.
November 26, 2017 at 12:45 pm
It’s time when you think it’s time. Everybody has a story. That’s the sad reality.
November 26, 2017 at 7:41 pm
Dawn, your posting really was remarkable and mirrored what i experienced in the corporate world exactly. when working in the corporate world, i learned to take the stairs because whenever i got up from my desk to use the elevator, suddenly several men would also join me. they would be joking around, i would feel cornered and then ever so slightly, one of them would brush his upper arm against my breast. i didn’t know what to do so i just kept quiet. one time a man said he liked my necklace and reached out to touch it and let his hand touch my breastbone. these were minor, quick touches that froze me. i thought, was that intentional, did it really happen? one of them was head of human resources.
in 1971, i was struggling to support my husband and myself while he finished his college degree (i quit college so i could marry him) on my $350/month salary. i was the bookkeeper and did the payroll. a man of the same level as myself got a raise to $550. i asked my boss why i didn’t get one too and he told me the man had a family to support and i didn’t.
i also had to order roses for this supervisor’s mistress out of petty cash and was forbidden to tell his wife or the owner.
when i was involved in the women’s movement in the late 60’s, i thought the fight for liberation of the sexes would be won when everyone was treated as equals all the time. we knew there would be a learning curve and that the people in power (men) would not give up their power quickly or without a struggle.
Carla Hill was treated so poorly by men in power in the Senate and these men were oblivious to their stereotyping of her. Clarence Thomas still disgusts me every time a new ruling comes down. not because of his politics but because he got rewarded and didn’t have to answer for his harassment.
when Rush Limbaugh targeted women as “Femi-nazis” when they spoke up for equality in the 80’s and 90’s, i noticed that sometimes both women and men agreed with him. the ones who didn’t were shouted down and the lesson was learned by the next generations: watch out and stay quiet. you won’t be heard or listened to or be believed. i remember at the time talking to younger women about this and their reply was they were too interested in getting their own career going than in continuing to fight for everyone. they also said that they would never let it happen to them. i was surprised and thought, gee, these women have really gotten stronger.
it appears now that the young women during that time were being sexually harassed but they must have defined it in a way that worked for them. and this abuse of power is still going on. not just to movie stars but to the women in fast food places and motel maids and other persons in positions of less power. thank you Dawn for telling your stories and for taking a stand. love to you, bess
November 27, 2017 at 8:13 am
It’s sad, isn’t it, how similar our experiences are. And sadder still to know that there were thousands, hundreds of thousands of women all over the country having experiences just like ours. And that it’s still happening is infuriating.
Thanks for sharing your stories Bess. It’s only by talking about it, and making sure that if we see it we report it, that we can make change happen.
November 27, 2017 at 4:42 pm
you are so right!
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December 6, 2017 at 8:31 pm
I don’t know how I missed this post. This is a problem that has gone on forever, because men have always had the power. Yet, women voted for tRump and will vote for Moore, fully aware of the kind of men they are. What does that say to the world? It sickens me.