Being 2nd Class Feels Like #2

11 Nov

Mere days before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, a young male colleague overheard another female co-worker and I make passing comments about “always having to be ready” for some asshole to step out of the shadows (or even in the light of day!) and rape and/or otherwise mess with us.  Not because we’re shit-starters, but because we’re, y’know, women.

Wide-eyed and amazed, my young male work friend admitted “Wow, I never thought about that. What a drag!”  I gave him a pass on that ignorance, given that he has only fairly recently entered the realm of adulthood and is, in fact, a genuinely nice guy.  However with the international shit storm now transpiring around sexual harassment in all its forms & milieus, I imagine (hope) my previously ignorant friend is experiencing a Big Education right about now.  Because, well, I sort of am too.

I was a 70s California Kid raised in a Single Mom household energized by the new promise of Women’s Liberation.  For much of my young life, I was under the misguided impression that all the Bad Stuff had been fixed for us gals, and we were now free to do as we pleased.  Sure, maybe we didn’t make as much money as men yet, but surely that was right around the corner, ya?  Oh, most certainly.

Other than having my virginity taken from me in high school via what the kids today call “date rape” (at the time I just thought of it as “going further than I really wanted to go”), I am fantastically fortunate in that the degree of sexual harassment & violence I’ve suffered throughout my life has been relatively low-level.  It is the garden variety kind that any American woman or girl can most likely attest to: annoying cat calls and uninvited conversations, the need to cross the street to avoid potential Male Hazards, never going certain places alone, and the occasional discomfort of an inappropriate comment made by a teacher, co-worker, and sometimes even a “friend.”  While I can’t say I’ve taken all this “in stride,” as the realistic pragmatist that I am, I’ve just acknowledged all this as a Very Unfortunate Given.

And that is why I’m experiencing my own Big Education right now.  The first harsh slap came on November 8, 2016. Like many people, I was weepy, bitter and nauseous for days afterwards.  I felt utterly belittled and humiliated by a country that so enthusiastically reinforced what I already knew:  I am a Second Class Citizen.2nd Class

As the current, progressively Nastier Year** unfolded, the secret misogyny that has simmered below the surface of polite American society for, apparently, decades, is now boiling over all over the place.  Need birth control?  Oh no, we won’t allow women controlling their own bodies or destinies.  Want to speak your truth?  Be prepared for a vicious onslaught of trolls!  Don’t like your creepy Uber driver?  Too bad, you called him so he is now free to express his need to rape & kill you with total impunity.

And now, the Weinstein story and ensuing clusterfuck of sexual harassment revelations amongst a myriad of professions.  While I am not the least bit surprised by any of it, the apparent magnitude of the issue is shockingly beyond what I had imagined. Because I have spent my entire work life entrenched in mid-sized arts nonprofits – a business sector predominantly run by women and not generally motivated by the pursuit of power – I’m guessing that is why I seem to be one of the rare few women who has suffered absolutely no on-the-job harassment.  Sure, a Board member once asked me to go “fetch him a sandwich” (I refused), and I’ve had to literally wrestle a fake priest to the ground to retrieve a stolen checkbook from his grip as he called me “a worthless gutter punk and insult to womanhood,” but I consider those particular episodes personal victories.

I’m still not sure what to do with all these new realizations.  I feel suddenly vulnerable, lucky, sympathetic and enraged all at once. But I guess that’s womanhood for you – us females are just so emotional, you know.  Yet we endure, and as many people have been made aware as of late, we persist.

** BTW:  This year hasn’t been 100% horrible:  I DID get married to the love of my life.  And he isn’t a misogynistic asshole – there are, thankfully, still a few of those left.

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One Response to “Being 2nd Class Feels Like #2”

  1. earlyrobin November 11, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    dear sweetie jenee –

    i have been hopping to museums a lot lately and have been especially sensitive to rape art. See attached….. not sure about posting, tho am sorely tempted….

    the subject looms large in art:

    – amnon attacking tama – rape of the sabines – tarquinius attacking lucretia – rape in fine art

    kinda don’t give a shit about bronze confederate warriors when rape of women is elevated and treasured in museums – the attached images from walters art museum in balto.

    cheers to you – ans happy you have such a love –

    *R* o b i n *S* h e r r e r c: 4 1 5 . 5 3 3 . 6 0 8 3 *r o b i n s h e r r e r . . .*

    On Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 2:34 PM, The Disgruntler wrote:

    > the disgruntler posted: “Mere days before the Harvey Weinstein scandal > broke, a young male colleague overheard another female co-worker and I make > passing comments about “always having to be ready” for some asshole to step > out of the shadows (or even in the light of day!) and rap” >

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