My personal experiences have become all caught up in the world's experiences. Things I thought I'd dealt with and banished, have surfaced. I'm angry, fuming, at men...even men who haven't done anything to me (or other women), except bury their heads in the sand.
And that's irrational. I know. But how do I stop myself ranting at someone's ignorance? How can you live in the world and not see what's happening?
The other night the news had a statistic of 3 out of every 10 women have been negatively affected by men's behaviour. Male said, "Gosh, that's a high statistic." I laughed, bitterly. I think it's the tip of the iceberg, and the statistic is more likely to be 9 out of every 10, or maybe even 10. Horrified man was gulping. Asked why I thought that.
And that's when so many instances came flooding into my head. Things I thought I'd banished. Things that in themselves weren't too horrible but when I started thinking of them all, one after another, I felt sick. Physically sick.
I only said a few instances out loud, but Male was horrified...and truly, I'm not sure he believed me. But he started to talk about his workplace and how my comments had just changed how he might deal with his staff. He's a gentle, if oblivious, soul who has always worked with lots of women (as opposed to me who's always worked mostly with men). And I seriously wonder how he's never noticed all the things that affect women.
I consider myself lucky that I've always worked directly with respectful men. I've never had to work under a barrage of abuse. However, I employed a woman who did. One of my co-workers took a dislike to her and made her life a living hell. After weeks of 'putting up with it', she came to me with the problem. Fuck. As if I knew what to do. But he was threatening her and her children, so it had definitely gone beyond something we could contain. I took it to my boss, and then to the workplace management. All men. Nothing happened. He denied it, of course. But I saw him now. I couldn't un-see him. He was a horrible man who had always made snide comments at me, which I'd taken as jest. Now they weren't funny. There was a serious problem and no one would do anything. I helped arrange for a transfer to another section for her (this wasn't a management thing, but a few concerned people taking action). I had always worried about the man in charge of the other section because he was a bit slick (not quite sleazy but just a slick kind of salesman type), but he was horrified by what had happened and rearranged his workers to take on this woman. I looked at him differently then. I had a lot of time for him, and respect. The same could not be said for so many others who I had expected more from.
I'd tucked this horrifying incident somewhere deep in my mind. It came out in a huge blurt of horror with a bucket full of twisted and tangled emotions. Anger. Horror. Frustration. Helplessness. Futility. Unfairness. Fury.
He got away with being a total creeper because he denied it. WTF? There was evidence, okay, so it may not have held up in court but it was enough to point the finger at him. All he had to do was say, "No." She had to have phone taps, diarised entries, interviews by at least 4 senior males, questions as to her private life. God, it makes me sick to see what happened.
I was mid 20s (she was at least ten years older, thank goodness. It would have been more awful if she was younger than me, and less experienced in the world), and I lost my faith in the system totally. Although, I didn't have a lot of faith to begin with.
As a kid, men whittled away at my confidence in being a strong woman. Women didn't help because all of those around me deferred to men, made excuses for men, and taught me that men held power even as they tried to say women were equal.
Women have never been treated as equal. Never.
My concern is that now the tide is turning somewhat, despicable men in positions of power will wield the lash to ensure women are put back 'in their place', and sadly, I don't have enough faith in other men to stand up for us.
And that makes me angry. And it makes me lash out at the men who have never noticed what happens to women in this patriarchal society. I'm shaking with fury, yet I feel impotent. Completely and utterly useless. The world seems to be a horrible place right now.