I guess I missed this story in the kerfuffle of the recent Presidential election. I read about it today and it inspired me to write. To read the article: http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/11/07/a-letter-from-the-harvard-womens-soccer-team/
It’s rather ironic in several ways. First, it relates to the election in a bad sort of way. Further, it’s not lost on me that the very subject of the letter is, in part, how Facebook came to be…the site I’m posting to.
Ah, the ranking of women- not for their intelligence, capabilities, contribution to society or more, but based on their physical attributes- and we aren’t talking about abilities relating to finessing a soccer ball. The response of the women involved in this situation is handled beautifully. Kudos to their courage and brilliant counseling they gave one another or sought from other sages. It’s something to share with young women of all ages.
Sadly, this probably won’t be the last time a story like this is read.
It leads me to question, who has been setting examples for the young men involved? Is this behavior that has been accepted over time? Brushed off? Laughed at? Is it a tradition? Are their role models acting like this?
While the promoted video tapes of Trump’s infamous words about women are reprehensible, I’m sorry to say he’s not alone. He got caught. There is a long line of public officials who could hold rankings on the list of using the most deplorable words and behaving in the most dishonorable manner through their careers.
Let’s forego political figures for the moment. Have you had a chance to hear how middle and high school kids talk to one another? Do you ever stop and listen to the lyrics of the song you sing so easily on your way to drop off kids at school? Do you understand what they mean? How many intimate sexual situations have you viewed in that favorite tv show or movie you like so well? How many times have your kids been present for that and you just stayed silent?
I’m not standing in judgement and I’m not excusing anything. It’s just not that shocking given history, today’s pop culture and the entertainment industry. How many more times do I need to see a movie with full frontal nudity of a woman and only a fleeting glimpse of an actor’s unclothed posterior? I don’t understand that. I don’t want to see it either. Just stop it already. Give me a good story and some credit for having imagination. I digress.
I always thought I escaped sexual judgement in the workplace. I was never in a situation where I felt threatened or demeaned because of my gender. I never felt my job was at risk, nor a promotion on the line because of how a man viewed me. Those in positions of suggesting something along those lines probably knew it wouldn’t be soccer balls they had to worry about if I was preyed upon.
That said, I can recall what seemed like innocent compliments by men in supervisory positions who said things like they had the most attractive women on their team, or she’s my Pretty Woman, referring to a distant likeness to Julia Roberts because of a hair style or outfit. Did I feel complimented? Yes. Did I feel threatened in any way? Not really. Should I have? Probably. Was it acceptable behavior by someone in a position of authority relating to my career? NO. Did I know better? I guess not.
Compliments are wonderful in the right setting and circumstance and by the right person. They make you feel great. Perhaps that’s why we brush them off in the wrong circumstance. We need to rethink that.
Young women won’t know what’s right and wrong without role models teaching them. The good news is…we are all role models- men too. You don’t have to be famous or out-spoken. You can be a teacher, author, family member, friend, server, flight attendant, fire fighter, doctor, or someone who is just a witness to a situation. And, sometimes the role models are college-aged soccer teammates who are wise beyond their years.
Now should we talk about equal pay for equal work?