The “click” is what I like to describe as the “aha” moment that men typically have when they truly recognize how deep sexism runs through our society. The most recent moment I had was when I told my guy friend about the personal statement I wrote for law school. I told him it was about how growing up I faced frequent sexist remarks regarding my decision to become a lawyer. I also wrote about how much sexual harassment I faced within my lifetime dictating my decision to be an advocate for women and marginalized communities. At first he seemed confused. He really believed that the sexism in our society was not bad enough to impact my life in such a way. I write this knowing that in other countries the patriarchy is significantly more present. I understand that there are countries where women are hardly considered human. That however, does not diminish my experience.
I thought about my sociology class this past semester when our female professor asked everyone to raise their hands if they had faced some form of sexual harassment at any of their jobs. The click was when every female including my professor raised their hand. There were a few men who also raised their hands too. Then we started telling our stories. The stories that were told were likely the ones that were not as bad. Most of the time there are always stories that we don’t tell because of the guilt we harper as victims. We ask ourselves, “Did I deserve this?” “Was there anything we could have done to avoid it?” These questions sound cliché but every victim or survivor has thought them across all forms of harassment and assault. These stories are rarely told as we are made to feel minimal about telling them. It is chalked up to the workplace norm. We are told to just deal with it because perhaps that person is “like that with everyone.”
However, the problem is that we don’t sit and listen to these stories and try to prevent them. We don’t listen to how it changed the lives of those people. I would go into work every day and if I did something extra with my hair or makeup I would get an inappropriate comment. It got to the point where I did not want to do my hair or makeup when I went to work just to avoid some unwanted attention. The harassment has been present my whole life. Catcalling when I was young, sexual comments from cooks when I was 17, inappropriate touching as they walked by when I was 18, and the list goes on from there. I have worked at restaurants, retail stores, offices, and the result is the same. It is everywhere.
After my conversation with my friend, I explained how I used these experiences in motivating myself to look into becoming a lawyer that specializes in sex crimes to be able to fight those small amounts of cases that actually make it to court. To be able to educate the jurors and community and hopefully spark more “clicks” for them in understanding the effects of sexual assault and harassment have on survivors. I hope one day to have the courage and support talk about my own sexual assault. Until then I hope more people have that “click” in understanding how much the patriarchy affects our lives.
Image is taken from an article that can be found here – https://www.ftvlive.com/sqsp-test/2017/12/8/local-tv-news-managers-involved-in-sexual-harassment