I have a few things to say in response to today’s post by Becca on A Clown On Fire.
I understand Becca’s issue. It’s something too many women have to face.
A few months ago I organized an event for a large VIP group of scientists and politicians. On the third night, I attended the annual gala. I was pleased to see the cocktail hour run smoothly and my boss complimented me on my hard work.
Then something unexpected happened.
When we sat down for dinner and awards, a man at the next table was staring in my direction. Then I noticed another across the room. Then another, and it soon became so obvious that my coworkers noticed as well. When the last speech came to a close, all three approached me. The first one said I was sexy in my black dress and he invited me “upstairs to the VIP room for a drink.” The second said I looked good, winked and then asked me to come work for him as his personal assistant in New York City. He even gave me his number, but told me not to call after 5:00 because of his three daughters and wife. The third invited me to go dancing after dinner and actually put his hand on my waist.
I fought myself over whether to be polite or to tell them off. Their behavior was appalling and I felt helpless. This was a work event and I don’t care how important these men are, they know better.
All men know better. So, what’s it about? All of the comments on Becca’s post are great, but one stood out to me that I fully agree with–I think it’s about power.
I wasn’t ready for that situation and I went home and cried. I felt bad about myself and I was mad that my body was more important to them than who I am. The one guy didn’t even care enough to ask my name.
I felt weak, and stupid for feeling weak. The next day, I told my boss how uncomfortable it made me feel and he said, “Don’t take it personally.”
Don’t take it personally? It was a dismissive response and I take that personally, too.
As someone who has had her body disrespected in the past, I would tell anyone to take it personally, and stay strong because mind games can really mess with you. I have my weaknesses, but I am very smart, creative, talented and independent. I am wonderful at what I do and I could look like a pile of rocks and still be good at it. I would respect myself in either situation.
We all deserve respect, whether it is in the workplace or in our personal lives. So, Becca, I stand by my comment to you. Take it personally, stay confident, respect yourself always and keep on shining that bright light of yours. Lastly, I didn’t know you would be posting that today and I have a joke post to share with you that I wrote last week that sort of reflects on these matters, and I hope you won’t find it distasteful.