Step It Up

A fellow blogger, Amy Punt, someone I follow for her thoughtful, outspoken, edgy viewpoint, spoke to the ongoing problem women have being heard when they speak out against powerful, popular men.

They’re readily dismissed as attention-seekers or worse, and it can take a lot of substantial evidence before we’re willing to give up our idyllic beliefs about our favorite celebrities. A lot of evidence about some really perverse things.

She also wrote about her hope the millennials will step up and take a stand against this behavior. It got me to thinking about my first job, age 18, at one of the top banks in the nation. (I won’t say the name because things have changed way too much since then, and what I’m about to describe certainly doesn’t reflect their standards today. They’d be sued to high heaven.)

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Fortunately not all women in the 60s and 70s just put up with their boss’s behavior.

My boss, the operations manager, would ask me over to his desk for trivial reasons, just so he could watch me walk away. He liked the way I walked, and made no secret of it. When I objected, the asst. operations manager, a woman, called me aside and had a long talk with me, telling me to “stop being so uptight” and “get over it.” I never did, but I did shut up.

This was 1978, the height of the women’s movement. A lot had changed, but obviously we had a long way to go. Eight years later the Supreme Court found sexual harassment to be illegal, and included “unwelcome conduct” or anything that “created an abusive working environment” as sexual harassment.

More importantly, most people today would consider my boss’s behavior unacceptable. There’s no undercurrent of thinking that the law or company policies (many which are more exacting than the law) are too strict. Yes, the men may like the way the women walk, but they’re smart enough to keep quiet about it, or tell only select others. We can’t stop the thoughts, but the actions can be controlled.

That’s not to say it’s perfect out there, I know. I hear plenty of stories about sexual harassment, some subtle, some blatant, in work places all around me. But it’s better, much, much better.

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Think of the fight she fought — and where we might be if women didn’t have the vote today.

The 1960s and into the 70s was an era of activism, heavy-duty, life-altering, extreme activism. We haven’t really seen that sort of push for change in the decades since, although some change has come. With this new generation stepping up, maybe we’ll move forward in our thinking once again at the kind of radical level we saw once before.

No amount of persuasive talk is going to change some people’s minds about some things. However, sometimes all it takes is intelligent people speaking up and letting loose all the other smart people who think the same thing but believe they’re alone in their convictions. Keep it up, Amy, you’re smart and you have something to say. We’re listening.


Image Credits: (Retro Girl) © stadobaranova — Fotolia; (Vintage Girl) © Tshirt-Factory.com — Fotolia

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10 Comments on “Step It Up

  1. That was a very nice piece Belinda. There is this show called Mad Men that I think you could relate to. Would love some more of your feedback at Gastradamus. Please when you have the chance, share your comments on my latest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is interesting and I think 3 out of 4 women have probably been sexually harassed in their lives. Mine came when I was much younger and I had a choice to leave or be fired. God did use my circumstances to prevent something more extreme from happening though. I chose to leave. He was married and I was very young. I look back and see that things could have gone very differently. Although I do not have any regrets, I do wish women were not treated like we are only sexual creatures to satisfy the male biological function. I know all men are not extremists in this area so this is generally speaking.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your point is a good one. It’s probably a minority of men who are so blatantly disrespectful, but it feels like more sometimes. A lot of men — and women — tolerate grossly inappropriate behavior, however, and that’s just as bad in perpetuating the problem, especially if they’re in management. I think we need to learn to listen when women say it’s bad and respect that they may be saying it because it’s true. Thank you for your comment. I always appreciate what you have to say.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Really nice piece. Thank you for sharing the story about your boss. It’s important the generations share stories with one another. Otherwise, we lose the context. It’s nice to be writing in a conversation.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I should add I’ve gotten a greater immediate response to this piece than to just about anything else I’ve written lately…so thank you for kicking it off with your post!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s important that young girls realise they don’t have to put up with any of this now a days. As a father of 2 girls I am becoming more and more “sensitive” to the comments I hear from young men about women and how they can be treated. I hope all women, young and old, know they have the power to be what they wish, to be with whom they wish and that they should not be held back by their gender. Let’s hope “evolution” of man can keep up with the pace of change. Thanks for the blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad to hear from you! I think being the father of girls may be the best way for many men to hear how some of those comments sound. Change comes slowly sometimes but we have to keep on demanding it.

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