It’s about TIME. Well done, TIME magazine for recognizing change makers and bringing them to the forefront. The change makers who chose not to be victims any longer and cast off the shattered glass slippers of shame and fear and are speaking out. Well done.
Here we are at a time when women can have amazing careers. Not trying to be men; trying to be successful in their own right as women and doing very well at it. The glass ceiling if not shattered has been hiked up by trailblazers. And we thank them.
Once upon a time a man could barge into a private office and stand over her desk and fondle his penis through his pants as he ranted at her. He hated her and let her know it. Seated in her chair with her back to the wall and no way out, the man laughed as he had his say. And he did it again. And again. The woman told the senior executives about it.
Sensitivity training and harassment awareness is a part of most corporate business these days and has been for at least twenty years. So why couldn’t women be heard before the momentous wave of the past few month’s disclosures?
The senior executives were horrified. Not at the action of the man, but that she would complain when she had reached the pinnacle of her career and should as she was told “shrug it off” as a woman in her much sought after position should do.
Doubt is cast on women who are now coming forward and telling the things that happened yesterday, last year and years before that. The question is asked “why now?” The presumption is bandied about that if it mattered before and was serious, it would have been dealt with.
As the man ratcheted up his actions to involve other intimidation tactics such as not leaving her office when told after he grabbed and threw the papers off her desk and accosting her in the hallways as well as his penis fondling, she again brought it to the executives’ attention. At that time another woman came forward and reported the same behaviour by the man towards her. Now they had to do something.
Too often the talk behind closed doors is to quiet….don’t talk about it….make it go away. Non-disclosure agreements are signed as the women leave the workplace they struggled to get into. Promises are made that make it all go away. Usually that means the woman goes away.
The investigation was set up to be facilitated by a personal friend of the executive and the day was set up with interview times and schedules to enable a full and complete investigation. The woman waited as directed in her office at the appointed interview time and finally the investigator showed up with the message that “I couldn’t find your office so this will have to be quick”. The woman was allowed exactly 12 minutes to tell her story and the investigator said no further information was needed.”
I suppose the women could have stood up and made more noise, but noise is how it would have been viewed by the very powerful men in charge. Even disclosing the things that happened to them; the sexual assaults, there was an aura of these things happen and everyone knows about it but no one does anything about it.
The woman was met in her office with a letter to sign saying that nothing was concluded from the investigation to prove any wrongdoing. Incredulous, the woman asked how that could be? How, with two women giving the same story could it be discounted? The reply was that the second woman had recanted her concerns and was being promoted, that no one else had complained and that the man had totally denied all the allegations. The letter was pushed across the desk with the comment that it would be hard for the woman to achieve another position like the one she currently was in.
Now, with an atmosphere supporting disclosure, there is more than ever the need to react with clarity. Clarity involving serious fact-finding and corroboration. Clarity involving solid investigative impartiality. Clarity disavowing bullying with position of power and influence from the highest levels to condone and excuse sexual assault behaviour as is happening.
The woman left and changed careers. The thing is, it felt like she was dancing in shattered glass slippers after making it to the ball with her place earned with the frustration of knowing what happened and the helplessness; the incredible helplessness of trust betrayed as the corporation determined her credibility was so easily discounted. Just hush….hush and don’t talk about it.
Too many women have been dancing in shattered glass slippers as they carry the burden of having been discounted and shunted from the ball when they reported the Princes for improper sexual advances made.
It’s no fairy tale. And shattered glass slippers leave a trail of splinters and shards making wounds that are hard to heal but it’s time we do so. And healing includes admissions, accountability and truth. Truth must matter.
It’s no fairy tale.