Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

We’re All Frogs in a Pot

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[TRIGGER WARNING: This article may contain content about misogyny, sexism, sexual abuse, or assault which may be triggering to survivors.]

Indoctrination into patriarchy starts young. Very young. Even to girls whose parents don’t particularly subscribe to patriarchy. Boys get the same subtle hints at it, too. But they are on the top of the food chain. I’m sure it has negative effects, but I can’t speak for boys or men. I can speak for girls and women.
I am not unique in my experiences. Let that sink in as you read the rest of this post. Girls and women all over the world experience these things and worse every single day. This is hardly rare. So this is also not a tale of woe or how my life has been terrible. It hasn’t. This is to highlight exactly how commonplace misogyny and sexism are in all its forms, some blatant and some subtle.

Growing up I wasn’t what I would have classified as pretty. I was an ugly duckling. In fact, the boys at school let me know that I was on the opposite end of the spectrum on the regular. I looked like a boy. Ugly girls aren’t to be talked to. They’re to be talked about, the butt of the joke. They sure aren’t worth much. We learn at a pretty early age to just shake it off. Let it roll off like water off a duck’s back. It’s going to happen so we might as well learn to live with it. Does it hurt? Of course. But we learn early that looks are important and that they’re part of the package of anything that resembles worth. Keep that in mind as I tell you what I’m about to tell you.

When I was maybe six or seven, I went to the neighbor’s house to see if Margaret could come out and play. She wasn’t there. There was normally a house full of people there, but that day only her older brother was home. I don’t know how old he was, but he had already graduated from high school, so he must have been at least eighteen. At first he told me that she was there and that I could go on into her room where she was. When I got to her empty room and turned around there he stood in the narrow hallway of that two-bedroom house. He asked me if we were friends. I said, “Not really.”

As I tried to walk past he knelt down and put his hand on the wall blocking my path. My back against the wall, he leaned in close and said, “We can be friends. Let me show you what friends do.” With that he shoved me into the bedroom and pulled my pants down and his. No, he didn’t go quite that far either. His friends pulled up into the driveway and blew the horn. My salvation. He gathered himself, made me crawl through their house to the side door, and told me to wait until they had gone to leave. We could see my dad out the window in the door. He pointed to him and said I’d better not tell. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to him, would I? I never went back even when I knew other people were there and I didn’t tell.

When I was fifteen I got my first job. My granny and granddaddy got me the job. There was a man in town they knew who installed insulation who needed a part-time secretary. It was the summer and he’d give me all the hours I wanted until school and then it would be part-time. He was my grandparents’ age, which seemed old to me at the time, but probably in his mid to late fifties. He paid in cash. I was supposed to answer the phone, make appointments, sweep the floor, take payments, and make deposits. I thought I’d hit the jackpot because he was going to pay me two hundred and fifty dollars – in cash – every week! He rarely had checks. He always had wads of cash. I heard later that the insulation business was just a front for something far more lucrative. I have no idea if that’s true or not.

Things went pretty well the first week. I did all the things I was supposed to do and he seemed pleased with the work I’d done. Then it happened. He would come into his office in the morning before he went out to job sites and then in the afternoons around five. He sat at his desk and pulled me into his lap. I pulled away. He let it go. Then he started hugging me and trying to kiss me and trying to fondle me. After about a week of that I quit. I lasted all of two weeks. My granny came to see me because France had told her I quit. She wasn’t happy. It made them look bad because they had vouched for me. When I told her what happened her response was, “Every man likes to have a little pat on the rear – a secretary they can give a little squeeze.” The lesson? The bodies of women are for the pleasures of men. I still didn’t go back. Granny still wasn’t happy.

Mama hired a preacher to do some carpentry work at the house. Elbert Cox. He made me really uncomfortable. He liked to hug a little too close and a little too long. He liked to caress when he hugged and look into my eyes. Later he got arrested for having sex with an underage member of his church. Last I heard he’d repented and gotten another preaching job.

Then there was Mr. Eatman. He was a deacon at the church we went to. Dirty old man. He liked to hug a little too close, slide his hands a little too low, and give a peck on the lips. Only a peck because that was all he was getting a chance at.

In each instance I got the impression these men thought that I should be thrilled at the attention. They were perplexed that I wasn’t.

When I tried to talk to my mother about it she brushed it off. They were just being men. I wasn’t the only one they were doing it to, either. My friends and I talked about it and it happened to them, too. They felt just as uncomfortable as I did. Their parents were equally as nonplussed. No big deal. Men being men.

The lesson? Sweep it under the rug. Don’t make waves. It’s expected. Might as well learn to live with it. We’re here for the pleasure of men.

When I began to date my future husband he took me around to meet his grandparents. A few months later I saw his granddad in the bakery. He spoke, we chatted for a minute, and I went on my way. He told Charles about the encounter and said, “You know, when you first brought her to the house I thought she was homely. She looked really pretty the other day when I saw her. Son, she’s a keeper.” A backhanded compliment if there ever was one, but subtle. I eagerly accepted the compliment. Implicit in that is that if I were homely I wouldn’t be worth keeping. Throw that ugly fish back. Apparently my face had caught up to the rest of my body.

My ex husband had a saying about women who had an attractive figure but wasn’t particularly attractive in the face. He would say they were “two-baggers”. Put two bags over her head in case one falls off. His friend had a crass joke about having sex with an overweight woman, “It’s like riding a moped. It’s fun until someone sees you doing it.” All of her worth wrapped up in what she looks like. I am ashamed to say that I laughed an uncomfortable laugh. I didn’t want to be that girl – the one with no sense of humor.

I could go on. I have more examples. I’m not even telling the half of it, really.

The world we live in is misogynistic and sexist. If women fight back against the tide it is said that we can’t take a joke or we’ve got a case of sour grapes. I may be wrong, like I said I can’t speak for men, but I can’t remember hearing any quaint little sayings about men who might be less than attractive. I don’t hear of that many cases of women groping and fondling. When it does happen, if the advance is rebuffed it is respected. Men are allowed to have boundaries. Women are not. We are here for the pleasure of men.

You see, it starts when we’re young. Slowly, steadily, progressively, methodically we’re taught that a woman’s worth is in whether or not a man will have her. Men and boys are equally caught up in systematic misogyny and sexism. It isn’t entirely their fault. They have been indoctrinated, too. We are all like frogs in a pot. Place them in while the water is nice and cool, slowly turn up the heat, and they won’t even realize they need to jump out.

Let me be clear. I know that not all men are like that. But these are instances that average women deal with on a daily basis. These are not isolated incidents. It is there. When you hear women talk about rape culture, this is exactly what they’re talking about. The implications all around us are that the female half of the population is here at the pleasure of men and we ought to be damn glad about it. We should feel honored to have the privilege.

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**Edited to fix the formatting.  Jesus H. Christ I will never write a post in Word and do a copy and paste again!

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52 thoughts on “We’re All Frogs in a Pot

  1. Your trigger warning should include depressing too!
    I have not walked in a lady’s shoe for a millimeter and I can’t begin to tell what it must feel like, but this post doesn’t paint a rosy picture

    Like

    • I really didn’t intend for it to be depressing. What I intended was for people, both men and women, to recognize that when women get offended by sexist jokes it’s not because we are “too sensitive”. In fact it’s so commonplace that most of us are desensitized to it.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great article – I agree with you wholeheartedly about how this low-level sexism and attitude towards women and their bodies is absolutley related to “rape-culture”.

    One of the saddest things I hear is women who justify this type of behaviour. Instead of uniting to say this needs to stop there are a lot of women out there who think people should stop complaining about it because that’s just the way men are. This is completely unfair on the many men who are perfectly capable of treating women as equals and don’t feel emasculated in doing so.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, humanistmum!

      One of the saddest things I hear is women who justify this type of behaviour.

      Even worse is when women perpetuate this type of behavior. There’s a bit of truth any any stereotype. There are a lot of women who do eat this kind of attention up. Again, a product of their culture.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. “Every man likes to have a little pat on the rear – a secretary they can give a little squeeze.”

    WTF? A grandmother said this!!?? Good grief…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, JZ, all I can say is that she was probably the product of even more misogyny and sexism than I’ll ever know. There are a number of women who defend this kind of behavior. Not only that, they feel like they might as well take advantage of it. Use what you’ve got to get what you can. Trouble is I can’t wrap my mind around that concept. I understand it. I just can’t participate in it. What’s the difference in that and prostitution except, perhaps, penetration?

      Liked by 1 person

      • True. It is passive prostitution. But seriously, keep your freaking hands to yourself. Is that such a hard concept for these “men” to understand? It creeped me out what you wrote, these men thought that I should be thrilled at the attention.

        Liked by 2 people

        • It is creepy. It’s the height of objectification. Them, and many others, seem to feel like they’re doing women a favor just giving them the time of day. It’s a compliment, for crying out lout!

          All I can say is, bullshit!

          Liked by 3 people

  4. You see, it starts when we’re young. Slowly, steadily, progressively, methodically we’re taught that a woman’s worth is in whether or not a man will have her. Men and boys are equally caught up in systematic misogyny and sexism.

    We are so much a product of our environments, of our homes, of our parents. In an age long patriarchal system, then the accountability falls SQUARELY on the man of the house, the father, grandfather, whoever is designated as the Patriarch. *images of the Godfather movies pop in my head* :/

    There are so many ways we could address thisvery serious problem, just as many we MUST address that leads to clear illegal activity! But I won’t. Perhaps the best thing to do no matter what your gender is to get behind supporting (with time, effort, or donations) to organizations like the Human Rights Campaign or AdvocatesForHumanRights.org. The best way to change this horrible behavior and transgenerational teaching is to get organized and active in greater and greater numbers! If you don’t (men????), what does that say about you and your complacency? Seriously? If not, then AT LEAST STEP IN when events like below in this clip happens!!!

    Ruth, you may or may not have seen these campaign ads by It’s On Us — or specifically It’s On <strong.MEN!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I wonder how many women *don’t* have stories of being inappropriately touched, propositioned, whatever? And of course, being expected to appreciate the fact that some man wanted to get his grubby mitts, and more, onto or into our bodies. So flattering, to be worthy of sexual attention. Our role in life …

    My stories aren’t as bad as yours, well, depends on POV I suppose. The most important point is that none of us should even have these stories, yet we do. Equality between the sexes? Yeah.

    Did you see the link of Sirius’s to hessianwith tussypegs about surveys on feminism? There were some interesting questions on there.

    Anyways, ’its a good read Ruth. You have the ability to write powerful pieces with detachment which lends strength to the story and core message.

    Reminds me of a book I previewed called, I think, everyday sexism where the author received worldwide submissions of verbal and physical sexism. I’d have been tempted to do a poll with this piece asking other women about their experiences.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I wonder how many women *don’t* have stories of being inappropriately touched, propositioned, whatever?

      That list would be shorter.

      I’ll have to check out that link of Sirius’. Somehow I missed it.

      I’d have been tempted to do a poll with this piece asking other women about their experiences.

      That poll thing is kind of new to me. I have a follow up to this post and I’ll probably include it. Thanks for the idea!

      Like

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. We live in a world where this is sadly all too common. Even when we haven’t been victims of rape, many of us have been sexually harassed physically, verbally, or on the internet.

    The thing that’s most disturbing to me is that in these situations, women are made to feel guilty and made out to be the ones at fault. Men even have excuses that allow them to get away with this behavior.

    “He was just drunk! He didn’t know what he was doing!”

    “He was paying you a compliment.”

    “But what was she wearing? She should’ve expected guys would talk to her when she’s wearing that.”

    “You should be nice to him. He was just making conversation. He didn’t mean anything by it.”

    It’s disturbing to me that people actually say these things, and that I’ve heard them. I would like to live in a society where I see change.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca!

      Absolutely women are made to feel shame about being attractive or dressing attractively. More than a few times have I heard, “If you’re dressing attractively don’t be surprised by attracting attention.” Or, “She’s dressed that way to draw attention to herself. If she didn’t want the attention she wouldn’t wear that.” Not about myself, either. I’ve always dress fairly modestly. In response to some of the above treatment my solution was to wear most anything that looked like a sack.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ah shoot, I didn’t mean to send that yet! But you’re welcome! I agree that women are made to feel like it’s their fault for getting unwanted attention when they dress in an attractive way. We just wan to look nice sometimes, and that has nothing to do with what attention we get from men. I think men should be taught to understand what harassment is and that it’s not okay. Nor is it okay to continue to push a woman’s boundaries when she’s made it clear she’s not interested.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for posting this, Ruth. This helps me better understand the reaction my “Butterface” post received. Unfortunately, with things Victoria Secrets, the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit edition, all kinds of TV and print advertising, not to mention the proliferation of online porn, it is a message that is constantly reinforced.

    By the way, I always do my first few drafts in Word before copying and pasting it into the WordPress editor. What seems to be the problem?

    Liked by 2 people

    • To be honest I hesitated to post this because I didn’t want it to seem like I was pressing the issue after that. But it was also pretty clear that men don’t experience these things, or at least not in the same way. So it’s difficult to understand why what one person perceives as a harmless joke is really just throwing gas on the fire.

      I get it that there are a lot of women out there who perpetuate the stereotype by fitting it. I’m sure men feel like they’re getting mixed messages and, being frank, they are. Especially given the mediums you referred to.

      When I copied and pasted it looked fine in the WordPress Editor. I thought I previewed it, but I must not have. When I initially published it the formatting was all messed up. There were no spaces between the paragraphs so it looked like a jumbled mess. The only reason I noticed it was because I accidentally clicked on the post title in my notifications widget when I went to read a comment that was left. I ended up opening up a new post, copying and pasting the post out of my original post into the new post, changing the formatting and then copying and pasting it back into the OP. It took me forever to figure out how to fix it. The clear formatting button was worthless. I googled it and that seems to be an issue. What edition of Word are you using?

      Like

      • I use Word 2010. Sometimes it depends upon how your word is set up. Mine defaults to 6 pts per paragraph, so when I hit “return” (or “enter”), Word spaces between paragraphs. I have to change it so there is no line spacing between paragraphs, which then requires I hit enter a second time to create the additional line between them. Then, when I copy and paste, it looks fine in the WordPress editor. You might want to either change the Word default spacing, or for blog posts, change the line spacing (before and after) to be 0 pts.

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  8. Great post Ruth and this is all so true. I’ve had the same experiences and even started believing that there was something about me that attracted that kind of men and I was disgusted with myself. Until I learned that most men are just like that. They were led to belief that that is the way women should be treated. Not that it’s an excuse. In this day and age they should also know better. What a sad world we live in indeed. Makes you sometimes wonder why some people are like that. Luckily my hubby is a gentleman and I wouldn’t trade him for all the millions in the world. He restored most of my faith in humans. 😀

    Have a great weekend hon. 😀 ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awe, thanks Sonel. Yes, I do think that men are just as much a product of society as women are. All these are learned behaviors. But it’s not as though they can’t be unlearned when it’s pointed out.

      My hubby is the same. A complete gentleman. He certainly helped restore my faith that not all men are pigs.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree there for sure Ruth. As Mak said in his one post – social media is to blame for most of it and we must not forget religion.

        Exactly! Unfortunately some people think they are always right and no one should tell them otherwise and would you dare to point it out, you end up at the wrong end of the stick.

        We sure are lucky to have found them Ruth. Seems we had to sift through the dirt to find the real diamonds. 😀

        I won’t even call men like that pigs. The poor piggies don’t deserve to be compared to them and I have met pigs that were way cuter and better behaved than some of the men I knew. 😆

        Liked by 2 people

  9. We are all frogs in a pot. I am thankful that there are ideas like feminism that can help people crawl out of it. No one should be subjected or even forced to be grateful at having one’s autonomy violated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess most anything can be taken to an extreme. The most extreme forms of feminism are criticized as being man-hating groups, which then unfortunately gets feminism a bad rap. I don’t consider myself a hardcore feminist. I’m for women being treated as equals. In all things.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. On behalf of most men (I hope) everywhere I sincerely apologize for us being self-centered assholes who never think of the other point of view. As I hear more and more as I get older I am appalled at how pervasive this behavior is. I promise I will do my part to try and correct it in my small corner of the world. You are right that it starts pretty soon after birth in what we are taught and allowed to do and expected to do. It is a subtext in that it is always there. When I asked some lesbian friends why we all had such fun together one replied, “because there is no hidden tension or sexual pressure.” She was right though, in that it really is there all the time. It’s like Red Green says, “I’m a man, I can change, if I have to, I guess.” It’s just going to be a long process.

    I have had the same problem with Blogger when doing it first in word.

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is exactly the point that I was trying to make with my post. I’m so glad you got it! It is pervasive, but on an individual basis, it seems almost unnoticeable. What I mean is, a man who isn’t typically sexist or misogynist might make what he thinks is a funny joke even though it doesn’t necessarily reflect his actual thinking on a matter. Sometimes what we find funny isn’t so pc. Each individual man thinks to himself, “Oh, I’m not sexist. I’m not a misogynist!” But when you layer that with all the other men making the jokes, making crass remarks, patting rears, cat-calling, or whatever else you might imagine each individual woman gets a lot of this same message. It’s daunting!

      Having said all that, I’ve become aware in the gender wars how much women also say things like, “That’s a man for you!” Or, “They’re men, what do you expect?” And similar. I’m aware that I’ve used that language in the past and am far more vigilant about such usage of language.

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  11. It’s great that you are willing to share your experiences. It’s a sad reminder to those of us who are a part of the dominant gender. I am thankful I grew up with respecting women being a virtue, but I see how it would be difficult for a woman in society. It’s one of those things where we know it’s bad, we just aren’t always aware of how bad; typical of privilege to blind us.

    Your grandmother’s response was quite shocking. Yet it seems typical of older generations who learned to get used to the mysogyny. Ugh. Sorry you had to deal with that crap.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My grandmother’s response did seem shocking. It was to me at the time. Having lived a bit longer and understanding our culture and certainly the one she was raised in it really isn’t all that odd. She was a child during the depression. She came up hard. I’m sure she learned early on to use whatever means necessary to get along and survive.

      Often times men get offended when women talk about male privilege. It is nice to know there are some men out there who can see that they do, indeed, have it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Those who benefit from privilege tend to create counter-narratives to help ease their consciences. I see it right now with white privilege, where many of my race are claiming that they are being discriminated against because of affirmative action or any actions taken to help minorities. That’s just not discrimination. It’s not harming anyone. If that were the case, giving bread to a starving poor person would be discriminating against the rich. No, there sometimes must be actions taken to help those who need help.

        And when it comes to male privilege, it’s very similar. It usually comes from a poor philosophical view of fairness and equity which leans too heavily on personal responsibility without factoring in the natural barriers that plague certain groups in societies as we move from the ignorance of the past into a more humanistic era.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. I had a couple of thoughts while reading this excellent post. I’ll start with my more controversial. lol What I find interesting is that unless we have some sort of phobia, in general we want to be touched. Imagine someone who you care about and who cares about you, imagine that they never touched you. Never hugged you. Touching and affection are one of the key ways that we know that people care about us. Such touching and affection should not be done with only a sexual intent of course. Touching can be intimate and meaningful without it ever having anything to do with sex. But let’s say there is somebody you really liked and you go out on a date. You might like that fact that he squeezed your arm, put a hand on your shoulder or held your hand. Such touches are not an invitation to touching in more private areas of course, but for those that we want to touch us, we tend to take a different view than those who we do not want to be touching us. A friend of mine actually went to a “dating consultant” and the woman who he consulted with told him that he wasn’t touching the women enough. Again, nothing sexual, but said that women who are into you will actually respond better when you give a little touch here and there because it let’s them know that you are interested in them romantically. Look, I don’t know if that’s true, and that this person is just giving advice based on the patriarchal world that we live in, but I also tend to view things the same way. If it’s somebody that I would want to get physical with, a few touches of affection that are unasked for or uninvited are an important signal to me. Again I am just talking about a squeeze on the arm, a hug at the end of the evening, or a hand on a shoulder. It’s seems a tough road to navigate given that touch is important.

    But everything you said is right in that I think we are now living in times where the inequality is getting harder to see. Making it harder to eradicate, but it is a relief to know that we at least live in a society with laws that enforce equality even if humans still have a hard time with it. Through conversation and being conscious of these things, it does change. And I do believe we are on a march to gender equality, but I think we must also accept that the patriarchal momentum takes a long time to slow down, and while we will see progress in our lifetimes, the end goal will not be met in a single lifetime. At least in a global sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to have a response to the first part of this comment in my next post. Let’s suffice it here to say that the hugs I was talking about in my post were not innocent greetings. They were creepy. These men would begin with a greeting hug, then pull me in close, lock their hands at the small of my back(which is, for me, intimate), and not let go. I would have to physically pull away. Uncomfortable to say the least. I’m not sure if they got a thrill out of the hug, itself, or out of seeing a young girl squirm. Either way…Just.no.

      Opening up a conversation about feminism, sexism, and misogyny, was exactly what I was hoping to do here in a constructive way – not a derogatory, it’s all the menz, the menz are bad sort of way. Men are as much a product of our society as women are. Progress will take time in that this is a society hierarchy that was established way before any of us were here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wasn’t trying to imply that the hugs you were talking about weren’t creepy, just saying that touch in of itself is not the problem, but that such men lack respect for women, and of course inappropriate touching of children is a serious mental illness. And I didn’t think you were being derogatory in any way…I just thought that since we often enjoy unasked for affection, I was trying to open up a discussion of what is more the root cause of what makes one situation creepy and another one not creepy. And of course I could be completely off base. It was just something that struck me at the time.

        Like

        • I wasn’t trying to imply that you were trying to imply that. lol I just realized that perhaps it might not have been clear and maybe I just came across as cold and someone who doesn’t enjoy affection.

          We’ll explore this more in my next post. Because you are correct. Most of us do enjoy affection and it’s a little awkward to ask, “may I touch you?”. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well I look forward to your next post! I talked about this to a friend yesterday, posing the question to her, how do you know someone is touching you in a creepy way? Is it the touch itself, is it something else about the person? I think too, if I had to deal with it, after a few creepy touches I would doubt my instincts and err on the side of caution more often.

            And no you didn’t come across as cold at all. It’s all my fault because in my first comment I sort of got on a tangent and it wasn’t on topic completely with your blog. Thoughts I about how we perceive touch and decide the difference between a touch we want and one that we don’t, just sort of struck me as interesting question all of sudden and I spouted it out loud (or out in words). So I sort of derailed the conversation a bit and things got misunderstood. I am sure we’ll have more to discuss on your next piece. 🙂

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  13. Ruth, forgot to mention the formatting.

    Do you actually format in word first?

    I draft my posts in pages (MAC) and copy it across and then use the WP formatting. Sometimes I put the coding in while I’m drafting, eg del, em, strong, other times I use WP. I also use the text option rather than visual as I find text allows more control.

    That may be another option for you.

    Like

    • Thanks for the tip, Kate.

      Yes, I did format in Word. Then just copied and pasted into WordPress. I didn’t use any fancy fonts or anything, just spacing between paragraphs. It looked fine in my draft, but when I published it looked like a squished up mess.

      Like

      • The reason I mentioned whether you use visual or text in WP is that text allows you to see any formatting problems so it’s easy to correct them.

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        • I flipped back and forth between the two. I couldn’t figure out what coding to use to say “put a goddamn space between these paragraphs.” hahahaha

          Liked by 1 person

          • Delete any coding that’s there and just hit enter. That’s on text, obv. No coding should be needed. Otherwise it’s the one for break, which I can’t write as it doesn’t show up on comments 😀 or buy a Mac …

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          • My name ain’t Mrs. Gotrocks so I won’t be buying a Mac anytime soon. My old laptop will have to hobble along for some time now.

            I didn’t think it required any coding either. I cleared all the formatting, went over to the text editor, and hit enter between all the paragraphs. It look fine in the editor but each time it published it took out all the formatting. *shrug* I got there in the end it was just a pain in the tuckus.

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        • I apologize to anyone whose reader this post clogged up. I kept thinking it was fixed and hitting the update button only to find out it still looked crazy. I have no idea how many times it posted. 😕

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  14. Men are disgusting! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. From your post: “I also want to open up the comment section, not only to discussion about the content of the post, but to any woman who would like to share her story. Not to make any men uncomfortable, but sometimes it helps just to be able to share it, even anonymously.

    An interview I had as a young R.N. (early 20’s). I walked to his office, entered in and then went to close the door. He quickly said, oh don’t close that door. Then he said something about being alone behind closed doors. Said it in a flirtatious type of cheshire cat grin way. I was embarrassed immediately mortified thinking he thought I was making a pass at him! I didn’t get the door closed all the way and quickly opened it.

    I sat down. The interview continued. Do you know how to use tools? Yes. A screwdriver? Yes. A drill? Yes. Looks at me disbelieving. You know how to use a drill? Yes. A chuck? Yes. Drill bit? Yes. Key? Yes. Do you know how to change a light bulb? Yes. Do you know how to change a sewing machine needle? Yes. I continue to answer his questions. Yes, yes, yes. Finally rather weary of him trying to find something I can’t do I tell him I took home economics and shop in high school my senior year. Shop? What did you take. Welding, auto mechanics, carpentry and electricity. Eyebrows go up with shock. I suspect I got the job right then but could I maintain the pace. (This job was for the operating room.) Other things came up. Why do you want the job? etc. etc.

    Then he wanted to know if I was planning to have a baby. Oh oh. Umm, well, yes, at some point but not for awhile. He tells me he’d like at least 3 years out of me otherwise it’s a waste of his time to train me. (Sideline here: He promised me 3 months of training. I was released on my own within 3 days of training.) 🙄

    Then he commented that he liked my dress uniform. That he thought nurses should wear dress uniforms and not pant uniforms. (I thought to myself you’d wear pant uniforms on the night shift in geriatrics too when the male patients kept putting their hands up your dress.) I’m starting to get uncomfortable now because we’ve left the interview part of the interview. My heart is starting to pound. Intuition. I want the damn job but I’m getting pissed.

    He then comments on my legs and how attractive they are in my white stockings and how he likes my old fashioned nurses shoes. I start to blush. I know it but can’t stop it. I want the damn job. He comments that I blush easily and now he is completely flirtatious. He said you’ll need to get use to it. In other words he does a lot of flirting. (Which was true as I found out.) I turned to him and said: “As long as you realize that I blush even when a 5 year old compliments me.” Using my best screw you tone of voice. He was shocked. I left the office, went back to my floor to continue my shift and new I didn’t get that job.

    I got the job. A fraction of the grief I went through there concerning this man. But, I loved my job. *sigh*

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    • Thanks for sharing, Zoe.

      I think that this kind of sexism is some of the most egregious. Using one’s power as the boss to impose that behavior on subordinates either to get the job or keep the job is pretty disgusting.

      My first real job(not the two week stint at Mr. Grabby’s) was at a bank. The VP was kind of handsy which made me a little uncomfortable but I thought maybe I was just being ‘too sensitive’. One day I was alone in the break room and he came in. I got up to leave because, even though I was ‘too sensitive’, I was uncomfortable being in there alone with him. He moved a bit closer to me and started a conversation. Not wanting to be rude I engaged in conversation. He then reached over, caressed my cheek, and leaned in. I’m not sure what he intended to do because I quickly backed away and told him I didn’t think what was appropriate and that he could keep his hands to himself in the future. If not, I’d go to the bank president. I think he was kind of stunned but he did apologize to me later for his behavior.

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      • He and I had quite a time I tell you. He was one of those bosses that had “the girl’s” get him his morning coffee. Usually he chose the tech’s to do it. Rarely the R.N.’s but they could be asked to get it too at times. Three weeks into my employment there I spoke up (apparently scared the you know what out of the other female staff) and said, “Do you tell your wife to get your coffee at home?” You could hear a pin drop. He never asked again.

        But he was good. He was slippery. We’d come out for our breaks, knock off our O.R. clogs, put our sweaty aching stocking feet up and our feet would be killing us and he’d rub them. The first time it happened I was so uneasy but my damn feet were killing me. The second time he seems so eager but again I let it go. But I wised up and realized he was probably getting his jollies. Next time I just pulled my feet in and rubbed them myself or said no thank you. Oh the stories I could tell.

        I was the youngest in there. The others couldn’t believe how brash I was with him. Oh the stories I could tell. But you know it just scares you to death when you are virtually trapped. You want the job. You need the job. This kind of abuse takes advantage of not only youth but our fear that we are over-reacting or making a big deal out of nothing. Especially when you see the older staff who have been putting up with it for years without fighting back. You know it’s been a subtle insidious methodology he’s used.

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