By Tina Teall
The #MeToo movement and revelations about sexual misconduct from several high-profile men have shown the country and the world how prevalent our culture of male power really is. I think some men are opening their eyes and realizing that this culture is more prevalent and damaging than they realized. I think there are probably many women out there who are taking a deep breath and realizing that it’s not just them. Not only is it not just them, but it is So. Many. Women. The #MeToo movement and revelations about sexual misconduct from several high-profile men have shown the country and the world how prevalent our culture of male power really is. I think some men are opening their eyes and realizing that this culture is more prevalent and damaging than they realized. I think there are probably many women out there who are taking a deep breath and realizing that it’s not just them. Not only is it not just them, but it is So. Many. Women.
I’m certainly not naïve enough to think that everybody is having a revelation, here. There are plenty who see nothing wrong with this behavior or deny the prevalence of it. “This is just boys being boys.” This is the mentality that has allowed and encouraged these behaviors to continue on long past their “time” (if there ever was one). It has created this culture where men feel justified in having power over women and feeling superior to them.
I have worked in manufacturing for 15-plus years. This is a culture I live in every day. I see every day how women are seen and treated as invaders in this very male-dominated industry. The plant I currently work in is more male-dominated than most. These are older, white, “conservative” men. One-third of our employees will be retiring in the next seven years.
I am a blonde, younger (than them) single mom. I’ve developed a thick skin over the years. I am pretty good at ignoring the inappropriate comments and small stuff. I am sort of known as someone who doesn’t take much crap, though. That has insulated me from the worst of “boys being boys.”
But still. I once had a stalker at work. The plant manager told me to quit flirting with the guys. It was turned into my fault that this guy was harassing, following and threatening me at work and at home.
I have been turned down for promotions in favor of much less qualified men who were drinking buddies with the boss.
When making a complaint about a male coworker who was bullying the entire department that I work in, I was literally yelled at and told that I was just “intimidated” by him. Several other females made complaints about this person as well. Instead of taking our complaints seriously, it was viewed as if we were a group of bitchy henpecking women trying to get someone in trouble. It wasn’t until males started complaining about this person too that the complaints were taken seriously. I just want to go into work and be treated like everyone else!
Many men see women as “other” and that is the beginning of justifying (in one’s conscience) poor treatment of another human being. I think these stories are evidence of free will. I would hate to think that there could be a “master plan” that would include the things all these women are speaking up about. It would even seem depressing to think that this is a “natural” consequence of previous events. I think it points to the “brutish” nature of life, as Thomas Hobbes put it
I think there is both a nature and nurture component going on here. I once listened to a podcast about a woman who was undergoing gender-reassignment treatments. The podcast was specifically about the effects of testosterone on her. She said she basically became that stereotypical catcalling dude on the street, checking out women all the time and being obsessed with sex. This points to there being actual biological differences that cause men to be more aggressive, on average, than women.
That said, we are rational human beings, right? We can tell right from wrong and not act in this manner! Is it right to treat women the way I’ve previously discussed in the workplace? No! But these men are not all evil pigs either. Many of them are perfectly “nice” family men who act poorly at times. But why? This is where the nurture part comes in. They are (we are) part of a culture that allows and encourages this type of behavior. They don’t likely give it a second thought because it’s so prevalent. They see it all around them, sort of like a mob mentality. Good people do bad things because everyone else is doing it too.
To add to this problem, our culture teaches women to be subservient, pretty, polite and never “inconvenience” people. Until both sexes really look into themselves and decide to change their own individual behavior and point out the rotten behaviors of others and really listen to each other, I don’t think this is a problem that will significantly change.