Why does supporting women even matter? These are my own professional and personal experiences.
I needed to take action. More action.
My beliefs have always been strong, my convictions steadfast, and while I continued to fight for them in my professional life, my personal, everyday interactions didn’t always reflect how strongly I felt. When I was supposed to stand up in my personal life, many times I didn’t. Even though I saw just as many injustices at work as I did in day to day conversations, it always seemed different. At work, legal is legal, and I grew to see the microaggressions just as quickly as I could see the law. But I became exhausted fighting social injustices each time I heard a derogatory slur, thinly veiled as a bad joke, because it happens all the time.
How could I stand by while the foundation of my beliefs were slowly chipped away?
I’m a pleaser — there, I said it. In my personal life, I used to allow others to say all of the things they wanted to say because I really do believe people should be able to be who they are. As I would hear things I disagreed with, I didn’t question or challenge, or even engage; I just chalked it up to them being them. Rarely would people ask me for my views, and rarely I would offer them unsolicited. I knew who I was, I knew my truth, but I didn’t feel the need to spew it everywhere. As the youngest of 12 kids, I learned it was more manageable to just help keep the peace. This journey has brought me to a new truth; passivity is harmful and it is beyond time for women to speak our truths. Say them loud, say them proud.
It is hard to find a human who will admit that they don’t believe in equality (okay, maybe there are a few). There are laws in place to prevent widespread discrimination, and for some, these meager laws are enough. But there’s a big gap in our society between the written laws and the systems put in place to ensure that they are not broken and when they are, that injustice is exposed and punished. Sometimes the victims come forward, but more often they don’t. Offenses are silenced, and we, the bystanders, are complicit. I think of the time when a temporary employee of ours came back to their cubical to find a noose hanging in it, and the corporation I worked for at the time responded by locking that story down, swiftly and effectively. Their experience squashing a problem was marked by their efficiency. Or, when a team of temporary female janitors were sexually harassed for 2 years by union male employees, who do you think was released from their assignments? I have seen far too many offenses systemically silenced. The victims and witnesses are paid a nominal amount in exchange for a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). These NDAs lure us into believing that these things aren’t happening anymore — they are, you just don’t hear about it.
It takes courage to come forward. I’ve sat in room where the Human Resource Director grilled an entry-level employee, and when she walked out of that investigation meeting, her entire department and her leadership greeted her with scowles and scorn. It was a textbook investigation; there were witnesses who corroborated everything, yet her leadership was mad it happened because of the noise and the work it created. She was shunned by her colleagues for “creating conflict” because everyone knows “that guy was just a jerk”, and she should have been able to handle him. She shouldn’t “have to handle” any of it, at her workplace or anywhere else. She was blamed for trying to lay claim to the laws put in place that were meant to protect her. The system failed her.
I talk to people every day who question women. They question their intentions, their stories, their reliability. I don’t. I’ve seen far too many examples and data sets to think that this fight is over or fabricated or anything other than real and happening right now. I believe women. I support women.
Peace & Love,