Journey to Joy (Day 6): Sexual Harassment Broke My Wild Filly Spirit


Why do men do it?  Power and control.  Entitlement too.  Misogyny.

Incest.  Rape.  Sexual molestation.  Child abuse.  Violence against women.  Domestic violence.  Sexual harassment.  The criminal acts of male people with an exaggerated sense of entitlement.  A mouse who needs to exert power and control ~ to dominate ~ a woman to feel like a man.

Submit?  Face the consequences?  Which choice is least-worse?  Less devastating?

My experiences with incest conditioned me to believe I would not be protected.  My experiences at a powerful labor law firm representing management told me what happens to women who file sexual harassment lawsuits.  It’s a career-ending experience that leaves women feeling like they’ve been raped all over again.

It didn’t matter that I’d graduated first in my class undergraduate or got my MBA with distinction or had a law degree and licenses to practice in two states (on my first try).  My stellar performance didn’t matter.  My paradigm-setting solutions didn’t matter.  In a bottom-line-oriented world, the only thing that mattered was whether I’d submit my bottom.  Would the space between my legs be wet and welcoming?

I couldn’t buy a date on a Saturday night, but I had very few bosses who did not sexually harass me.  It wasn’t about me.  It wasn’t even about the sex.  It was all about proving to both of us that he literally and figuratively had the power to bring me to my knees.  I could submit to his demands, or I could collect unemployment.  Pick.

Twice I was replaced by brilliant women who were ready and willing to prostitute themselves as a term and condition of employment.  One of my MBA buddies and I used to tell jokes that weren’t funny about women who got ahead on the “lay-away plan.”  Slept their way to the top.

I wish Barbara Walters had written Audition when I was in my twenties and thirties.  Like most women of my generation, I looked up to her.  I was appalled to discover that with her amazing talent that she too had to prostitute herself.  Yes, she opened doors for many a female journalist, but she paid one hell of a price.

I wish I had known that Clarence Thomas while he was in charge of the EEOC was sexually harassing Anita Hill.  It would have helped me appreciate why so many men in corporate America were so arrogantly certain they could get away with it.

I am very proud that I was part of the gang of women lawyers who brought former Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR) down for his disgusting penchant for playing tongue hockey with any woman unlucky enough to be within his range.

I’m stubborn and determined.  I was also horridly naive.  I thought my credentials and expertise were valuable and would be rewarded.  In retrospect, I realize brilliant, ambitious career women like me were merely perks.  Like a corner office or a corporate jet.  A little reward for rising stars.  A woman these Ivy League power-brokers could have with impunity like the back-stairs maids of their ancestors.  More delicious because we were highly-educated, beautiful, and refined.  And, just as likely to keep our mouths shut to protect our jobs.

Ultimately, I was done in by all the hits.  They broke my wild filly spirit.  I ended up like a Humpty Dumpty egg.  It took me a long time to acknowledge and accept that it was about sending me a clear message that I did not have the power to control my own destiny.  I was an expendable pawn in a very high-stakes game.

I hope that Tyler Perry is correct about shining a bright light on the truth of our abusive experiences.  He certainly is in control of his destiny.  And, Oprah is in control of her destiny.  They write their own rules.

It’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood here in Seattle!  It doesn’t rain here all the time.  When the sun shines, it’s absolutely gorgeous.  I thought I would share with y’all what I see when I’m writing these posts when we are lucky enough to have a day bright with sunshine.

Sept 17 2009

I pray that the healing can now begin.

Sept 17 2009 Sky

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