No. . . it’s not OKAY.

247118_2491786_updatesWorking as a fledgling dental assistant, my first job after high school, a patient thought it was okay to suddenly let a hand slide.

Working for an insurance company at 18 , a top sales exec decided (briefly!) that his lap was the proper place for dictation.

Working as an office admin, a manager thought it was okay to aggressively grab a kiss as I reached for copy paper in the supply room.

Years later, I worked for women. I worked for myself. I achieved. Yet, there were still times I knew the woman card would never be a equality get out of jail free card. Even as a partner with my husband in own ad agency, many times our clients would defer to him. My guy was a fierce defender of women who knew it was not okay for car salesmen to bargain with him when I was the one buying the car. And it was definitely not okay when my husband’s client wished the ‘little woman’ fun on a business trip  — on which I was the photographer on the shoot! So many shades of not okay.

Compared to so many more invasive, immoral, traumatic stories of harassment and assault, mine seem insignificant. Even so, for all those who have been debased, insulted or treated as less than, I stand with all for change. A staunch supporter of women’s rights, LGBT rights, Black rights – EVERYONE’s rights, my classy husband  would be more than disgusted that sexual misconduct is both still rampant – and still excused. He was a guy (duh) but he got it.

The dark ages of women’s equality seem never to have seen the light of day. Society still looks the other way – or worse, victimizes the victim. Well, you know, boys will be boys. Right. Evolved as we think we are, the thought that anything that happens to a woman is because of women, still shocks. The myth that the way we present ourselves is reason enough for men’s bad behavior just shoots the other half of the human race in the foot. Bad things don’t only happen to bad people and assaults on women aren’t invited. If you don’t get an invitation, you’re a party crasher. Period.

To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

Funny how when we hear stories of sexual harassment or assault, we are somehow surprised or outraged — if we pay attention at all. If anger arises, it seems to dissipate as quickly as it came.  Yet, it’s not a third world problem — it’s a whole world problem. It’s a problem of ignorance, entitlement, and rage. From India to the United States, Turkey to the United Kingdom, too often boys and men seem clueless as to why unwanted sexual advances – or worse – are wrong. Where does that leave women? What is their recourse when intimidation, harassment, abuse or manipulation, if visited on them, isn’t taken seriously or believed? And what if you’re gay, trans or of color?  Well, triple that. Men behaving badly cuts through every industry and walk of life from Corporate boardrooms to Capitol Hill, Hollywood to home.

I want every girl to know that her voice can change the world. Malala

I’m not man bashing. I have a son, 5 grandsons and had a terrific husband, who I cherished. I have male friends who are wonderful, kind men, respectful of all the women in their lives and beyond. So where does it go wrong? Where does love of mom, of sisters, of wife diverge into complete disrespect – or worse – of other women? All all those men behaving badly had moms, a grandma, a girlfriend, didn’t they? Yet they still think harassment of their female counterparts is ‘okay’. Sexual entitlement has to come from somewhere, doesn’t it? Is it born – or bred? Have we all just missed a crucial piece in teaching boys to become men? (ps Woman are 50% of this world and not one man would be here without us, guy!)

Men – their rights and nothing more. Women – their rights and nothing less. Susan B. Anthony

Like it or not, women are born into a world where rules were made by men. Each time we think reason has finally caught up and we no longer have to attest to our equality, the lie of it smacks us upside the head. We seem now to be in a watershed moment in history, as the ground shifts and sexual harassment and assault allegations sweep high-placed men up and out of jobs. Though women’s voices have risen many times before, their outrage has erupted into a powerful cry for respect and justice. As recently as a year ago, an overtly outrageous tape, along with 15 women, surfaced but instead of outrage, the accused won the Oval. A fish rots from the head. Is it any wonder those who have felt entitled to touch – themselves have felt untouchable?

Until now.

Winter is coming. These days, it’s easy to wonder how many men are nervously biting there nails, fearing theirs will be the next number pulled in the deli counter of past escapades. This is a moment in time for truth-telling, accountability — and care. Just one untrue allegation, one misstep, would trip cries of witch hunt, and hysteria, erasing tenuous strides toward justice. A single false accusation won’t topple the men who used position and power badly but will shut down every woman who speaks out against a badly behaved man.

Men of quality respect women’s EQUALITY

None of this is pretty – but then it never has been. The difference is that once, those who had enough power thought they were immune but, as the pins go down, one by one, some are waking to glimpse a new sheriff is in town and she is called WOMAN. Those who never got the memo that actions beget consequences (hey, even my little grandboys get that!) may be a tiny bit nervous as instinctive self-preservation sets in.

We are at the very beginning of a correction, or the hope of one. What was tolerated 25 years ago, cannot be tolerated today. The toxic culture must change. Equality is not about demanding some bizarre revenge. It’s about women taking their rightful place, in every place, as equal not object. And anytime, that misses the mark, we have to remember ‘ no, it’s not okay.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “No. . . it’s not OKAY.

  1. some 20 years ago I was told to shorten my skirts,thought that was asking me to do something strange …but I listened, today I would have said something not nice..

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