I’ve always been political. News junkie. First professional job in broadcasting was as a news anchor for a local NPR station. So, I can get heated. But, never before have I felt so personally traumatized. Sure, Bush v. Gore was VERY upsetting,
But, Trumps behavior and millions condoning it has me questioning every relationship with men I have ever had.
You see, like many women I’ve spent my life accommodating the male persona. I’m a feminist, but I’ve still done it. Maybe less than others, but in a world where they are often your boss, or the majority of your co workers, it’s hard not too. From making sure my dad had the seat at the head of the table and a plate of hot food, to nodding politely when some male stranger said something condescending. Well, he is an old guy, he doesn’t mean to demean. From “Smile honey” to bosses who made lewd comments about me or other women I worked with.
The worst were several males and bosses I worked with in radio in the 90’s. Pigs. I worked with some great, respectful men of all ages. But, hands down the worst were at KGO radio San Francisco. Constant sexual comments. I would smile, and then every few weeks go into an empty studio and cry. I wanted to work in radio. What was I going to do? It was top down at that place. I eventually learned to become like my torturer. When they would say something gross, I’d shoot back , “Yeah, but you have a small dick. So, can I have the AP report now?” It hardened me. I spoke of one incident to a woman superior. She made excuses for the guy, “But, he never touched you, right?” No, he never did. But, I was stuck with him and a guy engineer on a remote broadcast who made everything we spoke of into a way to bring in my body parts. Once I wasn’t working for the station directly, but for a show taped there, it sheltered me a bit. Like an abuse victim I didn’t stand up to any of these men till I saw it being done to a younger woman who had started working there. Unable to defend myself I did tell one guy to not talk to her like that anymore. “I thought it was a compliment?” He said. “No, no woman wants two senior men to her at work to hold up a Victoria’s Secret catalogue and say, ‘Yes, it does look like her.” I couldn’t reprimand the other guy, he was even higher up.
NOT JUST SEXUAL
As I moved onto TV I had all different type of co workers and bosses. MANY who knew were the line was. (Consensual sexual relationships between co workers is fine..albeit later Awkward. ) However, this taking care of the man isn’t just about letting some fat, fart think he has a chance with you. It doesn’t have to take a sexual form to be menacing and manipulative and to keep women from freely expressing themselves and their ideas. How many times have you been in a meeting with a male boss who mansplains you to boredom? Who is detailing something middle management figured out months ago? Who shows you how to do something you already know? Who assumes you do not have what a certain task will take? Who silences you so a man can speak? Who wants endless praise for one idea he has come with? But, most of the time I humor them. Laugh, smile, rag on them later when I’m at happy hour with a co worker. The few times I have protested, I’m alone. So, I back down and I needed the paycheck.
Sorry, guys I probably would have kept doing it, but now that I see this heavy, lurching manness writ large with Donald Trump I’m done. I’m calling it and I’m not going along with it. Trumps intense meanness to Hillary Clinton in the second debate made my stomach hurt. I watched it with others and the men in the room were also upset. “I have to have a drink” one said. It was so tense. In order to get along, Hillary rarely fired back. I get why. It’s NOT a level playing field and she is carrying Bill’s sins on her coat tails. Though I don’t know why when a woman is cheated on and gets angry at the other woman she is an abuser? Couldn’t a woman calling a woman she is angry with be called “locker room talk?” No, because entitled men reserve excuses for themselves and the brotherhood. Pat Robertson and his ilk think it’s fine.
I know there are good guys who don’t even realize their impact on woman sometimes.I t could be from someone who otherwise I think is a lovely person. Maybe a super liberal,don’t matter. They stand too close. their voices are naturally deeper, louder. They think everyone wants to hear what that have to say. I had a boyfriend years ago who was large. 6’7”, 240lbs. He acted very contrite and respectful around women. I was surprised at how gentle this giant was. I asked him about it and he said, “I know my physical size is very intimidating to women and I don’t want them to be scared of me.” He did not abuse his power. Sometimes Mark says something that startles me or Vivien. When we say, “why are you yelling?” He says, “I wasn’t. I’m not even mad.” It’s the timber. The other day at Bombo he came in during my shift and started telling me IN FRONT OF OTHERS about the correct ice to lemonade ratio. I just nodded as I thought screaming “Don’t Mansplain to me” might be bad for business. In a private moment I said, I know this is not what you intended, but here is how that felt to me. He understood.
OUTSIDE OF WORK
The belittling of woman is not confined to the work place. Oh no. It can be from dear people who don’t even know they are doing it. Being who I am I freely express my opinions on all types of topics. One thing both men, and some woman have said when I do this MAKES ME GO NUTS. It’s a line that has a few variations… but it undercuts whatever the speaker has just said. Here it is:
“Daphne, tell us what you really think?” Followed by chuckles. It could also be, “Daphne, go on, tell us what you really think?” Chuckles. Or “You never have to guess what Daphne thinks about something.” Continued chuckles. I have had women do this to me too, usually when we are in the company of men.
Frankly, I don’t know how it’s taken me so long to say, as I recently said to my husband when he did it too!,
When I said “That is so sexist and belittling.” (he got it)
However, I have NEVER heard any gender say that to a man expressing a definite opinion. EVER. If you have ever said this ask yourself, why? Were you uncomfortable with the statement? Was it controversial? Because if it was a hot button issue one could say instead, “I appreciate you feel really strongly about this, I just don’t want to create any friction on a night I thought we were going to do Jager shots out of hose.” But, if it’s not something like, oh, where does life began, but perhaps a well articulated critique of a popular author, why say it?
The saying is the personal is the political. It certainly is here. I remember in ’08 thinking, yeah I guess I’ll vote for Hillary, but I’m not getting in a later about it. Then in a primary debate Obama dismissed her with “You are likable enough, Hillary.” She smiled and took it. I was a plane for Texas helping her campaign win the caucus.
Yes, I usually vote Democratic. But, I’m pining for the days of Romney, McCain, even W. They would have competed against Hillary Clinton strongly. They would have made powerful arguments for their conservative vision. They would have pointed out were they think her policies were flawed or not executed. Good for them. They would not have stalked her in a debate using their physique to intimidate her. They would not have commented on faces and body parts of a female competitor. I already abhorred Trump for his lack of intellect, his reality show pedigree, his race baiting, his hostility to anyone who doesn’t look like him, his insults to Gold Star families and POW’s. I also do not like how he has advanced the coarsening of our societies dialogue.
I have sometimes placated and tolerated men with a sense of entitlement, humored them. But, I’m not doing it anymore. Thank Donald Trump.