With the news chock-full of sexual harassment allegations made against powerful men in the entertainment industry, the conversation is finally being had about women, sexual harassment, and the toll it takes on us. A new day, a new allegation, and all I can say is….it’s about time!
But outside of the entertainment industry, where the rest of us reside, many of us women can relate. Whether the situations have been as serious as what we’ve seen and heard, or even a snide comment in our direction at the office. Either way, it IS NOT right. And the countless women that have come forward have demonstrated the courage and bravery to speak up, and fortunately have inspired others to do the same.
If you’re a woman living on Earth, I am sure you have experienced some form of gender-driven harassment, whether sexual, mental, or emotional. Regardless of the case, they are all just as detrimental to our souls and even more our sense of selves.
We doubt ourselves, second-guess our unintended reactions (the unintended nervous giggle UGH), and wonder if we’ll ever be seen for the intellectual power, ambition and strength that we all possess.
Even the smallest comments can damage our perception of ourselves in ways that come across unseen, at first, but then over time manifest themselves into feelings of anxiety, lack of confidence, and us not living as our full and complete selves. Especially if we’re in an environment, such as the workplace, when we are forced to interact, and even work with the same men that have behaved inappropriately towards us.
I have had many experiences in my life, when I found myself in uncomfortable situations like this. I’ve endured beyond creepy comments about my appearance and just general inappropriateness, those who don’t understand personal space, and not taking no for an answer because a man feels entitled, yet insecure when you say no. And so much more. I can go on for days!
And unfortunately, there were a few times when I didn’t say what I should have. I strongly believe that women have been taught, throughout society, to be too polite, rather than say what’s on their mind.
So instead of belittling myself for not being the outspoken woman I am the other 99% of the time, I took my voice and power back. I spoke up and can admittedly say that I even got a few of my harassers reprimanded and/or fired. That’s not the goal, but I said what I needed to. And here’s how you also can take back your voice!
What to Do
Don’t Justify Bad Behavior
If you’re gut is telling you that you feel uncomfortable, YOU ARE. Make no apologies for a harasser’s stupidity. I believe that those who do this to women, especially knowingly, operate from a place of entitlement, and do not deserve your sympathy. Even if it is a seemingly “innocent” interaction, maybe your insight will cause others to act differently in the future. But remember, that is not your responsibility.
It’s your right! Tell the harasser yourself or report it to the necessary people. There is no shame in using another method. After all, it is part of their job to follow-through with you complaint. Don’t look the other way because it seems like an uphill climb. What kept me saying something was the worry that others would have to endure the same thing, or worse, and I couldn’t let another woman be victimized.
Find A Way Out
Whether it’s your job, friends, family, etc., there is ALWAYS a way out. Nothing is worth such a steep sacrifice of your confident sense of self as a bad-ass woman! Short-term will be the most difficult, but long-term, nothing feels better than standing up for yourself.
You do have a voice. We have more power than we give ourselves credit for.
Even if nothing changes afterwards, find happiness in satisfying your spirit. You chose not to lock it up inside and let those comments, behaviors or actions go unnoticed. As women, we have to speak up for ourselves or no one else will. We have to be in control of our own experiences and their outcomes.
We do not have to be victims. And as a collective group, we can come together and help each other through it. And maybe give even just one woman the courage to listen to her intuition and speak up.
What have been your experiences with harassment? and how did you cope and take back your voice?