Social Commentary. My "Me Too" Moment.
My most egregious “Me Too” moment, that is.
I recently watched Clinton’s infamous interviews on the Today Show and Steven Colbert. I listened to the master communicator deflect and avoid owning his inappropriate sexual behavior. But the bottom line is that he was (and probably still is) a serial sexual harasser and I voted for him TWICE.
Before the “Me Too” movement, it was easy for me focus on his politics and look the other way at his peccadillos. The Christian Right did the same thing when they voted for Trump in the last election…I get it, I am just as guilty.
Unfortunately, this movement has caused me to relive my own sexual harassment. As a woman pioneer, I was harassed a lot at work. Much of it was intended to demean me and “prove” that women did not belong. I joined the workforce in the nascent days of sexual harassment, when the concept was just being created by feminists. Fortunately, it is no longer just a concept, it is now against the law.
I guess my most egregious “Me Too” moment occurred in graduate school. The last step in getting a Ph.D. is to write and defend your dissertation. It usually takes a year to assemble a committee, do the research and defend it. I knew that I had to include the former Chairman of the Department on my committee. I didn’t like him, I thought he was a dirty old man, but given my field of study, there was no escaping including him on my committee. I steeled myself, went into his office and described my dissertation proposal. After I finished, he got up, closed his office door, put his hand on my knee, looked directly into my eyes and told me that I unless I cooperated, I would never get my Ph.D. Disgusted, frightened, and confused, I rushed out of his office. It took me a while to understand what he was asking, and it was particularly surprising because at that time I was married. After crying for several days, I sought the counsel of other female graduates. They explained that all I had to do was let him feel me up for ½ hour…they had all had to do it. I didn’t judge them, I understood. From their perspective it was only ½ hour of their lives, they had worked so hard for over 5 years and didn’t want to lose their chance of getting their Ph.D. Since this was in the 70s, there was no recourse…it was open season on graduate students. But I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t do it. Eventually, I told a female professor what happened. She smiled and said, “Thank God you are willing to stand up to this.” I had to change my proposal, gather people from different branches of science but the two of us cobbled together a dissertation committee so that I could earn my Ph.D.
I have many other stories, we all do. The “Me Too” movement is shining a light on these dark and ugly secrets. Secrets that we kept because we were ashamed or thought it was our fault or just wanted to put it behind us.
Because of the “Me Too” movement, politicians like Clinton, H W Bush and even the current president cannot be elected without the voters knowing about their behavior. When we open the doors and bring the light in, these cockroaches will go scurrying back into their darkness. So let’s not forget how important this movement is. I would love to hear your stories, let’s keep that door open.