What was one acceptable is no longer
After spending many years in the workforce I have been reflecting on years past, I can remember behaviors of a couple of my ex-coworkers that I accepted and kept quiet about even thought I felt uncomfortable, insecure and powerless. These behaviors would come under the umbrella of sexual misconduct. This behavior is perpetrated by people from all walks of life and across the socioeconomic landscape. From working class to white collar workers, From politicians to college professors to the executive office. I knew if I brought this behavior to light to my superior I would be forced to leave my job. It’s not in my DNA to bring to light other peoples misbehaviors as I was brought up with a certain code of silence. What it ultimately came down to was my inner strength, tenacity and just plain irish stubbornness to not be beaten. I grew a thick skin, became more aggressive, had a chip on my shoulder and I was left alone. My place of work was a toxic environment for me. Looking back this an incredible challenge nobody should face. I was still presented with with the challenge of working full time and going to school 3 nights a week. As it turned out, I did stick it out and became very good at my job, conscientious and well respected.
Now I ask myself would it be okay with me if my daughter faced the same challenges as I? would I tell her to stand up for herself and bring these things to light in spite of the outcome of her complaints? Would she in fact be ridiculed, outcast, fired and receive angry responses even threats from the community? Will people that support her be ridiculed and attacked and be perceived as evil? Th answer to aforementioned question is yes, I would encourage her to come forward. Do I teach my daughter that code of silence that would actually make her a victim and not a survivor? Things are different now, Right? It’s years later and that behavior is no longer acceptable after all.
The last couple of years we have seen this inappropriate and criminal behavior exposed. I myself know 2 people who were accused of sexual misconduct. My first reaction was that this was not true. “He is a good person, no way would he do this, I’ve known him for years, why is she accusing him of this?” when I did have time to think about this, I thought this could possibly be true because this is so prevalent and is woven into the fabric of our society. As it turned out, much to my chagrin, it was true in both cases.
In closing, this is a systematic problem, it is important for the officials in Everett to continue to take responsibility and provide woman with a safe work environment. Nobody should feel uncomfortable, insecure and frightened in the workplace. In doing so, we can put all our energy toward being a good employee, support ourselves, our families and be a productive member of society.