If you live in this country, you have probably noticed the latest scandal about the movie producer Harvey Weinstein. A slew of actresses have stood up to him and now he’s involved in a whirl of sexual misconduct allegations. Finally, right?!! I have been asking myself, why now though?! Everyone is reacting differently than other times- paying attention now. But men using their power over women, in a sexual way, has been happening since the beginning of mankind.
When I was a young teenager I was going to school at night. In order to pay for my schooling, I worked as a receptionist at a local car dealership. I was quite proud to be paying for my own schooling. My boss at the time, was a very powerful man in the car industry. He would often make passes at me while I was simply doing my job as a receptionist- with no pressing aspirations to be the top receptionist (!!). I didn’t particularly humor his attention- I neither engaged in it, nor did I get overly offended about it. One thing that is not talked about is that women are SO OFTEN exposed to being objectified that it blurs into normality. We often just shrug it off.
But men who behave this way _ it should be noted that NOT all men do this- don’t realize how we women see them. I was sooooo young and he looked like a very old and decrepit man to me. I didn’t find him the least bit attractive but I’m sure he thought his money made him look like Brad Pitt! After several passes I did start to get creeped out to the point that one day I decided not to go back to work.
I have to confess something however. This was back in the 70’s when mini skirts were all the rage and part of every woman’s wardrobe. I wonder if I was too exposed? Did I offer opportunity to be oogled, touched, and spoken to with “intention.” This bothers me and yet I am judgmental about it myself. Why can we not be sexualized… or on the other hand, why can we not enjoy our physicality without drawing negative sexual attention? The 70’s was before the concept of “slut shamming” had even been brought to light. For years I lived wondering if I set myself up for these unprofessional advances. But really, should we women dress like nuns in order to be taken seriously or to protect ourselves from unwanted attention? Come on.
If you truly got to know me you would see that I often make light of serious matters. I think humor is a great way for us to get ideas across to ourselves or to others. So let’s turn the tables here for a second! Imagine that the fashion now for men was similar to the 1700’s when men would wear snug fitting tights that exposed all their jewels. Am I allowed to say that?! As a woman, would you not be able to help yourself from staring at them? Would you whistle, or say something playful about their looks? Imagine my customers calling my sales guys “darling” or “babe”! Or maybe I have a male customer walk in wearing a Roman outfit, legs exposed, donning gladiator sandals and my sales girls would lasciviously try to sell him some shoes while her eyes traveled to every inch of his muscles.
That’s what it’s like!!!
Or alternately- women get pressured into sexual situations in order to gain favor for a job or a position, but then there are the women who are not “attractive” or “older” and are given NO opportunity based on their looks. This is infuriating.
But I like to think that today is different from yesterday since women, we can speak out against this kind of behavior. This doesn’t mean that anything changes or that anything will be done about it. At the very least, we can stand our ground. If it has to be a recognized, accomplished actress to speak out to make people take notice- so be it. At least the media has found it interesting enough (for their ratings) that the attention gives us some combined power, #MeToo!
I also think that times have changed because I know many men who do not fall into objectifying women. I know men that take women seriously- in all ways. They honor their femininity and they honor their intellectual equality and capacity. I’m sure you know some of these men too.
I know this is a touchy subject, but I am sure everyone- men and women, are taking a moment to reassess certain behavior thanks to Harvey Weinsteins’s transgressions.
I’ll close this Pandora box for now and go open some shoe boxes!!