This has been the conflict my entire life. Why do men attempt to suppress, is it a power play to gain some type of control if they can't per se have us? I'm not a parent right now but I worry how will I raise my daughter. Will she be bred tough like I am, able to face unwanted aggressors and if so, will she face a disadvantage in love for it, also like I have?
The conversation not only ignited after watching our joke of a presidential race mud-slinging and from being a newscaster and hearing Roger Ailes alleged power plays against female talent. Which by the way has happened to me countless times throughout my own career. The dilemma emerged after reflecting on a series of unfortunate events in my life.
Whether it's trying to hold onto a job, walk down a sidewalk in peace, or in some cases just merely exist, there always seems to be a challenge how to speak firmly without insulting egos. I never understood where does the urge to dominant derive from, I mean do we, as women, scare men in some way? Is it as simple as our rejection that ignites a show of force?
I noticed early on I had to tread carefully, biting my tongue and watching my reactions although neither were strong suits of mine. In college, the first blatant power play came from my music and cultural studies teacher. It was my first encounter with a man of authority holding all the cards, the play was for my future. I noticed some flirting throughout the semester but brushed it off until the day he asked me out. I was asked out by my instructor days before our final exams. My answer was clearly reflected in the grade I was given, a C+.
When I was starting out my career as a young newscaster, I'll never forget being called into the news director's office, he told me I was being written up. A documented record of me exemplifying difficult behavior. In fact, his exact words were "You need to be more humble." I was in trouble for offering up too many editorial opinions with confidence. How dare I, I was only the show's lead reporter how dare I have a say on what I'm reporting?
Another former news director let me go, years later for the same reason, "nothing really" to my agent, but everyone knew, it was because I was to opinionated. It was because I didn't bat my eyes and flirt like all the other reporters did to this egotistical married man. I was told once, "just do as your told."
Out of the boardrooms, it was just as bad, only displayed in a scarier form. It wasn't verbal taunting but rather physical. To this day, I'm afraid of public transportation, as a teenager I was riding the Bart transit system in northern California when an older man sitting next to me, an obvious predator, although back then I didn't know that term. The man kept trying to touch me, while saying heinous things. He sat close enough my only escape was to make a scene, push him away and run to another side of the train. I was afraid, so I sat there letting him ramble disgusting things and reach over touching my arm and leg seeing how far he could push a timid teen. Lucky for me, his stop came up and he got off. Immediately after another older man turned to me and said, "Why didn't you say something?" Me! I thought. In my head I was screaming because you're a grown man you coward I'm a teenager, why didn't you? But instead I kept my head down and stayed quiet.
From an attempted sexual assault in a grocery store parking lot, with the pervert masturbating one foot from me pressed against my car, saying "you like this TV girl" to being groped in a crowd of concert goers after a live shot in the middle of drunken hicks for the evening newscast, I've had my share of men suppressing my existence. Or at least trying to. It's enough to make any father, especially mine, turn 'Dexter' delivering vigilante justice.
You may be surprised to hear the most offensive form of surviving in a male-skewed world happened to me through initial charm, a man who preyed not on my body but on my hopes. A big celebrity manager contacted the CEO of my talent agency at the time, asking for my information. He reached out saying I saw you on TV and you just have that "it" factor. He wanted to talk about working together. Obviously flattered because he had an impressive clientele. A coffee meeting, turned to lunch which turned to requests to meet for dinner. Which soon morphed into this married man calling me to say "I'm ring shopping right now, wondering what you feel about that?" You mean, the fact that you have been dangling my dreams, my career goals over me, deals and opportunities I could have, oh wait, but only if I date you. What do I think about you being a married, lying cheater?
It becomes betrayal of the worst kind when you toy with a woman's dream. When you take her hard work and taint it with your uncontrolled sexual behavior. That's what this all comes down to right?
In some form its men lashing out over sexual rejection or yearned sexual power. Its men who lack self-control and are still dealing with insecurities that transfer onto a target that allows you to win over women.
Men have shown me I need to be tough. I'm notoriously single for this protective armor I strap around my heart each day, but at least I never lost my self-respect, I never sold out. But I was punished, I was fired, and silenced in other ways. Which makes me wonder, what will I teach my daughter if I still don't have the right answers for myself?
How do we stay in the game and breathe through suppressive men? I've noticed the more I dismiss a man's advances, the more aggressive they get. Whether it's done nicely, in silence, avoidance, there never seems to be the right response to prevent further harassment.
My gut reaction says the answer to deal with the gropers, egos, arrogance, men in the streets to inside the boardroom is to simply be tough. Deliver swift words, even if sharp edged. Throwing verbal daggers isn't the advice my mom would give as she's likely the kindest person I'll ever know. But that's not the world in which I was raised, not the aggressive male dominated world I work in, or the times of today when men, even a presidential candidate turned president doesn't take responsibility for his behavior or words.
Today's woman to me is a tough bitch. Maybe that's sad in some respects because I've found it hurts me in the love department. It's as if I'm not soft or vulnerable enough. I'm too strong. I admire the beauty found in a self-aware man. There's so few of them. I'd rather take a stand with men allowing my defiance against ignorance to shape cowardly boys into respectful men, regardless of the consequence.
Its common decency I yearn for. The motto now should be, "Strong Is The New Single" because intelligent, outspoken women are evidently a threat to men, a main reason why many career women are single. Forced to wear armor that will shield me from emotional and mental jabs from men I'm supposed to respect. Then frantically trying to strip it off for date night!
Societal injustices brushed off for far too long. I guess I'm a product of today's self-made woman who'd rather appear as a crazy tough bitch then witness the complete demise of the gentlemen.