My manager, not really that much older than I was, announced that he was considering retirement. He needed to find a new supervisor, and he said “I’m going to be looking for a man good enough to replace me … or a woman, I guess.” But I heard that he meant a man, and of course it was a man who was hired. This wasn’t that long ago; but he and I, we grew up in the generation where the men were almost always in charge.
And when men are almost always the ones with the power, lines are crossed. Me too isn’t just about rape and assault, it is about those lines that are crossed. It is about women who grew up knowing that is just the way it is. It isn’t right, but if you complain it is the woman who suffers. Always. Despite laws.
When the manager of the fast food restaurant over hired to get the new location open with a band, then cut over half the staff, it was no mistake that most of those kept were young cute women who liked to flirt with Mr. Boss. It was obvious, but how do you prove that? Who cares about fast food workers?
But is doesn’t stop there. Men are routinely seen as more valuable, more promotable. That is just the way it is. But women in work situations always know the stories about that one Mr. Boss and how Ms. Cutie came back from a convention or business trip with a nice promotion.
And that isn’t assault, and it isn’t harassment. And usually you can’t prove it. But suddenly every other women in the office feels like their work and skills don’t matter.
This isn’t just in the past. I have heard the stories the last few years, we all have.
Me too is about always feeling less.
It is also about saying no on a date and having your reputation trashed. This happened to too girls, like me. We back off, say we aren’t ready for that, say no to more dates. We weren’t assaulted, we weren’t raped, but he tells everyone that he did the dumping because she was taking it too fast. It happened to me, too. That is just the way that it is.
It is the constantly grabbing hands, the unrelenting pressure. It is being called names because you won’t, but being called names if you do. And it is knowing that, at any point, at any moment, in your journey through this world, there is likely to appear a powerful, predatory man who blocks your way and says “I don’t care how smart, how good, how talented you are. If you want to pass this point you have to pay my toll.”
And if we fight it is he said she said, and who has the power? Yeah, that is the way it is, right? That is the way that it has always been, right?
So, women are standing together and saying me too. I think we are feeling a little more validated, a little bit heard. But the world is a crazy busy place with a lot of noise and distraction. And I’ve been around this old sun enough times to realize that pendulums swing back, and the balance of power has not really shifted. This is important, we need to not become once again silenced. We need to keep speaking the truth.
Can you hear us now?