The “Me, Too” movement has stirred up a lot of controversy. So many people, female and male, have had experiences back in the past that could not be addressed at the time. Speaking as a woman who worked with men in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, you had to put up with a lot of crap back then. It was very usual for the men you worked with to make salacious remarks to you, tell filthy jokes in front of you, give your butt a quick squeeze (“aw, that doesn’t mean anything; I was just being friendly!”), and so on. Back then, it was acceptable behavior.
Men ruled everything, and, as a woman, if you had a problem with a man, there was no one to go to, and no one would take your complaints seriously. It was an atmosphere of men doing whatever they felt like whenever they felt like it. It was like working in a high school locker room. I cannot tell you how many times I drove home in tears of anger and frustration. In their minds, the men seemed to think that their advances, jokes and comments were somehow a compliment to women.
Trust me, we did NOT see it that way. It was abrasive, demeaning, disgusting and hurtful. These days, now that many people are bringing behavior like this to light, many people are asking, “why did you wait so long?” The reason why is that it took years for a “Me, Too” movement to evolve. Back then, if you complained about being picked on or disrespected, you were being “all woman-y” and “emotional” and maybe you were having your period (yes, they talked about that, too) which was making you “bitchy.” As a woman, you just couldn’t win.
At that time, women in the work place were seen as one of three things: 1) fair game for flirting and office affairs, or 2) a motherly type, or 3) a sister type. For myself, I adopted the “sister” role. That kept some of the advances and gropes to a minimum.
If you followed the series, “*Mad Men,” then you have a pretty good idea of what it was like for working women in those days (and the decades to follow). Personally, I am glad to see the “Me, Too” movement. In my view, it’s not so much to demonize men as it is getting the stories straight.
As with most movements, balance is the key. Personally, I don’t view men as monsters, and I think that a gracious plenty of them these are pretty evolved and were raised well. As always happens, things change; some for better, some for worse. I think it’s a good thing that improprieties have been brought to light; they need to be addressed. It’s the only way to leech the poison out that has been held in for too many years.
If you have read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, you will remember what her old wise friend, Ketut Liyer, the medicine man in Bali told her about men and women: in time long past, men and women were one creature together. They lived this way in harmony, love and peace. When they became two entities, all the harmony, love and peace changed. Perhaps we need to become one again.
My hope is that eventually we will realize that everyone has value and dignity.
*From Wikipedia, “Mad Men is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner and produced by Lionsgate Television. The series premiered on July 19, 2007, on the cable network AMC.
After seven seasons and 92 episodes, Mad Men’s final episode aired on May 17, 2015. Mad Men is set primarily in the 1960s – initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City; later at the newly created firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (later Sterling Cooper & Partners) – located near the Time-Life Building, at 1271 Sixth Avenue.
According to the show’s pilot, the phrase “Mad men” was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves, a claim that has since been disputed.”