Me Too, Brave

If you spend any time on social media you’ve most certainly heard of Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment, and the hashtag #metoo. Some of you may feel like you’ve heard enough. Many of us have HAD ENOUGH.

My own #metoo.

I’ve experienced multiple instances. I think most women have to varying degrees. Some we may forget. Some we don’t. I have a pretty good memory. So here’s the first instance that I can clearly remember.

I was about six years old. A strange man tried to get me in his car. As I’m pretty sure he wasn’t enticing me to a game of hopscotch, I’ll venture to guess what might have happened if I actually got in the car.

Teachers and parents warned us kids many times — don’t take candy from strangers and don’t take rides from strangers. We’d seen filmstrips even! This man did not offer me any candy. I was confused. If there was no candy did that mean he was okay? He didn’t fit the mold of child abductor or even seem strange, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to do … except to not get in the car.

Thinking back, what he said to me was clear manipulation. And harassers manipulate. He told me that he knew my dad and that my dad had asked him to give me a ride home that day. (I think he even knew his name.) He told me that my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. Fucker.

I stood staring at the man. I didn’t want to make my dad mad at me. This man looked like any upstanding man or dad in our neighborhood. He was dressed in a suit and drove a nice, four-door sedan.

I didn’t always walk home alone, but I’d stayed at school a little later that day. Having a ride home would be nice. Did my dad know that I was walking alone and send a ride for me?

I froze — neither getting in the car nor running. That small bit of doubt in my head was holding me in place. If the man was telling the truth, then my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. I was always told to tell the truth. I assumed most people told the truth. But I was also faced with all those warnings, “Don’t take a ride from a stranger.” I didn’t know this man.

I stood on the sidewalk several feet away from the car. The man had the passenger-side door open, and he sat in the driver seat. To get me in the car he would have had to have gotten out and grabbed me.

He finally gave up and left saying, “your parents told you not to take rides from strangers, didn’t they?” And I nodded. He told me I was a good girl for listening. (Did that make me bad if I had gotten in the car?)

I walked home as quickly as possible. It stuck with me that being alone made me an easy target.

I wasn’t sure if I should bring it up with my parents. But I actually doubted myself for not getting in the car. Would my dad be mad? I quietly, nonchalantly asked my mom if Dad had sent somebody to give me a ride. She said, “no.”

Afterward, I kept trying to forget. I mean, really, actively trying to get it out of my head because while nothing bad actually happened, the event made me feel creepy and bad. So I’d forget for a while. And then I’d remember again. And sometimes, I was mad at myself for not running away — right away.

And no, that wouldn’t be the last time some man made me feel like that — made me feel bad — not because of something I did but because of something bad they did or tried to do.

Ronan Farrow broke the story about Harvey Weinstein in an article in The New Yorker. Brave job, Ronan Farrow!

When all those women that Harvey Weinstein harassed or raped had a hard time coming forward. I could relate. At six years old, I promise I was not wearing sexy or provocative clothes. So when women are asked what they did to provoke an attack, I have no reason to believe that the women did anything other than be female. Yet when so many of them doubted themselves … wondered if they had done anything wrong to bring it on themselves … I can relate. Those women are brave!

How is it that society has allowed these actions to continue?  How can the Harvey Weinsteins of the world not realize that what they are doing, what they have done, is so wrong? Just because a man is sexually attracted to a women, does not mean that she wants to attract him or have anything sexual to do with him. And manipulating women into those actions through candy, power, or threats is wrong.

Woody Allen called the situation “sad.” He spoke even more words to say, “You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”

How can the Woody Allens of the world worry about a “witch hunt” over the physical safety of women and children?

Witch hunt. Let those words sink in. Instead of saying, “Mr. Weinstein did bad things.” And that maybe people shouldn’t do bad things. Allen brings up images of … of … witches. When many people think of witches, they think of women who practice evil. Nice to know what’s on your mind, Mr. Allen.

The Salem Witch Trials — where women were falsely accused of evil that resulted in trials that lead to the deaths of innocent women, men, and children … and Woody Allen worries that winking might get men into trouble because of the Harvey Weinstein situation —  Harvey Weinstein, a man who is not innocent, has admitted guilt, and is guilty of some pretty nasty things. Maybe Mr. Allen should blame Harvey Weinstein for any negative fallout from Harvey Weinstein’s actions. Instead Mr. Allen seems mad about the publicity and article.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t nice, good men out there. Thank god! There are nice men! Men who know boundaries. Men who can find a woman attractive, but who don’t assume that their own attraction automatically gives them license to touch or force women into actions. 

Trust me. Most of us women know when a wink is just a wink. (And really, maybe, winks are best left out of the workplace anyway.)

If you aren’t sure how to act in a way that will ensure that you don’t get accused of sexual harassment, then you might be interested in The Rock Test: A Hack for Men Who Don’t Want To Be Accused of Sexual Harassment. Feel free to share it. The Rock himself even endorsed it on Twitter. (Makes me kind of love the 3D, 7-11, souvenir Slurpee cup featuring The Rock that I’ve been using to water some of my plants.)

Women don’t want the nice stuff to go away! We even like sexy stuff too (under the right circumstances). But if a person must be coerced into something sexual that they don’t want to do, then that person is being sexually harassed or worse. We will usually be happy to tell you if we do or don’t like something. Amazingly, we have brains, and we’re interactive too.

Unfortunately, sexual predators are a lot like terrorists. Most people are not terrorists. Most people don’t want to hurt others. But it only takes that one terrorist to cause a lot of damage to many people. One of the biggest problems with sexual predators is that people don’t seem to like to bring the instances to light. Women who do are often more punished than the man who commented the act. 

Brave women and men who come forward to clear away the terror and stop predators are heroes.

 #metoo

Aside from sharing actual experiences and opinions, this was also written as a response to the WordPress: Daily Post’s Daily Prompt, Brave.

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Be Daring

 

The WordPress Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is Daring. Ha, that makes sense as a sentence.

WordPress bloggers dare to put it out there. They don’t just say they’re going to blog. They blog. Be like WordPress Daily Prompt bloggers. Be daring! Blog.

And dare to do other stuff too. At our recent back-to-school night, one of the teachers had this single slide up on the screen through the entire presentation for the class.

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Other teachers had PowerPoint presentations that covered lots of stuff. Each was many pages long. Class schedule. Topics covered. Projects. Grades. Contact information.

I took a few photos of information that I thought may be of value. But I liked what this single slide said the most. And it was for a math class no less! The teacher also said that when kids told her that they didn’t know how to do something, she corrected them by saying, “you don’t know how to do it YET.”

I hope the class goes well for my daughter. I’d hate to like the presentation so much only for her to have a bummer of a class experience. But I’m not going to worry for now.

So far, so good. The year is early. I’m sure not everything will be perfect. I’m going to enjoy these ideas while fresh on my mind. And perhaps my daughter may even learn more than just math in this class.

Students learn so many new things every day. I need to bust out of my own comfort zone more often!

I need to try some new ways.

I need to be daring!

 

Of Value

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is: Value.

I always like adding that a post came from a Daily Prompt and what the prompt was. Sometimes, I read other posts linked from the Daily Prompt pages, and I’m thinking, “wait, where did this come from? Why did they write it.” Some posts tie-in so beautifully. Some, you can find the inspiration easily, but the blogger really took it and ran with his or her own idea. They made something unexpected but really good. Other times I have no idea what a post had to do with the prompt, but the link in there. So, okay.

Value

The idea of value has a lot of variety too. We could be talking money … time … emotion. You could have a valuable car or antique vase. Well made clothes may be a better value than cheaper, poorly made clothing. They last longer.

There’s the value of words. Of lessons. Maybe that’s one of my favorites — learning a valuable lesson. Do we ever learn lessons that aren’t valuable? Maybe, I’ll look at that farther on down this page.

Valuable lessons are often those that are hard earned. “Wow, you really earned a valuable lesson there,” implies that something bad happened first. Then a lesson was learned. The valuable lesson is usually the knowledge needed to prevent oneself from having the bad thing happen again.

Touch a hot stove. Get burned. Know not to do it again. That is something of value.

It starts when we’re old enough to remember stuff, and hopefully it keeps happening until we reach a ripe old age. We learn enough to help us to get to that advanced age. Get the tough lessons out of the way when we’re young. That way once we’re old, we can avoid lots of crap and hot stoves. But we may still learn new things too.

Some days, I’m still working on the hot-stove lesson. (Pot holder, Deb, pot holder.)

I took a class in basket weaving one time. When I was a teen that was a running joke among parents, “she’s studying underwater basket weaving in college.” (I wasn’t. It was a community class.) But the sentiment implied that it was a completely useless course of study. No value. The expression could be used to refer to any course of study that was considered to be useless. Film making and art weren’t far behind.

Underwater basket weaving does not require that the weaver should spend time submerged in water (maybe a little part of me was hoping for scuba tanks). The materials are soaked in water. Not sure that this knowledge has much value except that I giggle when I picture people wearing scuba tanks and weaving baskets at the bottom of the sea. I like to laugh.

I’m sure basket weaving is valuable for folks who make a living as artisans who sell fine, handmade baskets at arts & craft shows. 

Lots of people will only give value to something they can measure with money. But the basket weaver (who may also scuba dive, it could happen) probably, hopefully, really enjoys making baskets. So it’s a valuable way for them to spend their time, it makes them happy, and folks might pay a lot for a beautifully handmade basket.

But basket weaving is probably not so valuable for accountates or math majors. Unless, say, the math major loves basket weaving as a form of fun and relaxation. Then it, once again, has value. (And you do have to count in basket weaving, so there’s that. Crochet is the same.)

So value can take a monetary form, be a good use of time, emotionally pleasant, or be the lessons that get us through life. It is what we make of it. I can value that.

 

Daily Prompt: No, Thank You. Dangerous Ice Cream.

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is No, Thank You.

It asks: If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?

There are lots of words I wouldn’t mind hearing, or seeing, less often.

Some people use the same expression over and over. At one point, when I was a kid I said “super” to everything I liked. Now I tend to say “cool” or “awesome” — twice the variety!

Books sometimes repeat the same phrase or words over and over.  

Spoken or in print, I cringe at too much swearing. Though it works well for some characters and stories. But in many cases if every other word is a swear then the words lose some of their power for when you might really need a good swear word. Like if you’e having an unusually sucky day or slam your finger in your car door.

If I’m super mad, I feel better with a good swear word or two. Sometimes three. It doesn’t happen often. I think it would lose some of it’s therapeutic benefit if I swore all the time.

Let’s say I had a friend named Polly and every day she says, “Where’s the fu***** ice cream?” If she says it again today then I would assume things are good with her. 

But if Polly almost never swears until just now when she comes in where I’m about to dig-in to two scoops of rocky road and says, “Where’s the fu***** ice cream?” Then I’m going to have a pretty good idea that either Polly had one spectacularly sucky day or that there’s something very wrong with the ice cream and we must dispose of it immediately before it injures someone.

I don’t like too much repetition of any word or words — particularly swear or cuss words. But I wouldn’t ban any of them. It would sensor expression. It’s akin to book burning.  

Even the worst of swears might save someone from a batch of dangerous ice cream.