What woman of a certain age and life experience cannot say these words? Most of us have tried all of our professional lives to simply implement a public standard that is civil, equitable, and that applies to all people. So many women have been frustrated and blocked in their career advancement by sexual bias and unfair treatment in the workplace, in schools, and in the culture. What used to be labeled “male chauvinism” has morphed into out-and-out, on-going, day-in-and- day-out harassment forcing us to quit our jobs and move on to other less dangerous opportunities.
Many of us were faced mid-career with the question: Is this job even what I want to do? Is the constant bias I face worth the fight? This reality has pushed some of us to be more competitive in chosen fields, don our equalizing black pant suits and strive to be seen- “as good as a man”. We’ve become the “clever monkeys” and crafted our own standards and practices within corporate, bureaucratic, educational and even family environments. Back “in the day” we ‘raised our consciousness’ now our daughters aggressively keep learning new and better skills in hopes of equal pay for equal work.
When the Equal Rights Amendment did not pass many of us dropped back, reassessed our possibilities, and some of us, like me just stopped working for other people all together. Choosing instead, to be independent and self- employed- in control of the setting. I would make my own rules- live by my own code. Still, there is harassment, in public settings, in intrapersonal relationships, in our families, and all over the cultural soup. From media who don’t hire “fat women” to the insane sexist tweet-o-rama we find now in our daily lives, sexism, unfair treatment, and the annoyance of harassment are endemic.
What can we do? Well, turns out you can really do a lot.
First off- report and share your own experiences in your private and public forums. Whatever community you find yourself in, talk about it. Be silent no more.
Second- do not put up with any of it. Speaking up is only part of it- acting to end the behavior is important. But be compassionate, not just angry. It is entirely possible people might not know they are behaving unconsciously. Hard to believe, but men especially may have never learned how to treat a person of the opposite sex. It’s the nature of awakening to make mistakes, to blunder, and offend. It is up to the awakened to shift the dynamic. If that’s you, share your experience and request it come to an end. You may be met with a flustered apology from an embarrassed co-worker who had no idea what they were doing was inappropriate or not at all entertaining. Tell them unemotionally with dignity, and poise- this is your warning, this is my boundary. I will choose to report you if you do this again. And then do not hesitate to do it.
Third- Keep working on your own behavior and awareness. We’ve arrived at a cultural stage, a phase of the growth and development of our society something we’re all going through together right now. What and who will actually change things is you- owning your own awareness and spiritual maturity. Stepping up and into the leadership position by example and with strength of character. Follow your spiritual practice, give yourself the gift of a spacious attitude and be kind to both others, and yourself.
It will never cost you to smile in the heart of true compassion either at another or into the mirror.