Imagine Yourself in Our Shoes
Written By: Lorianne (LA) Glassford
While having breakfast one morning, in response to having expressed my frustration about a work issue, my husband said, “Hon, those guys aren’t going to change. The only way is for them to be sitting in your seat. They just don’t get it. They need to walk in and feel immediately that they are an only like you, it’s the only way.”
If men really wanted to change things for women, they would and they could right? I mean come on, men are great lobbyists - look what they did with ROE vs. WADE, all those startups. Men can rally the troops when they want to, they just need to want to and get as angry as we are about the inequality and violence against us. No?
I have been described as the one who gets shit done, the “ballsy” one (vaginas are so much stronger) and have been the only (woman) at the table repeatedly, the one who speaks up for others, not in the room, who pushes back on patriarchal mindsets and tries to educate in my social media posts while continuing to learn myself.
I was raped in my 20s, assaulted twice in my 30s, in my 40s, and once in my early 50s (the last two happening at work by male bosses). Sadly this is NOT abnormal, not anywhere in the world.
Here’s the thing though - I never reported the work assaults and have carried this shame for a long time. I should have spoken out and practiced what I preached … right?
Wrong (unless you are a woman who has been assaulted by a man with a title above yours while at work - and if you are, reach out and let’s talk), it’s not that fucking easy. Hell, just writing this piece has brought back all the emotions of the experiences.
One year after the last assault, I told my husband. I waited because I knew, (I KNEW) he would want revenge and I had to be in a place to manage my emotions and his justifiable anger (and desire to confront my assaulter).
We (as women) carry these experiences with us every single day; triggered by a sight, a sound, a comment, the sound of glasses in a boardroom, an elevator door closing, a male ushering us to the meeting by placing his hand on the small of our back.
When a male executive likens the status of a project to be almost complete, “... kinda like when your wife gets out of the shower but hasn’t yet put her makeup on,” (cue the chuckles and even an “I’ll have to remember that one”) rather than, “The project is 95% there with only the final details left to be installed.” That’s a problem! Men need to speak up against other men.
Every single day little girls, young women, and women of all ages hear, witness, and experience “less than” behavior from men. We are conditioned to tolerate, speak out less, and accept “I was just joking” as justification for just about anything.
A complaint had been made by a white male to my boss after being on a call where I had shared the plan to focus on gender inclusivity: “… sounds like we want to get rid of all the white guys and replace them.” “That’s unfortunate,” I said to my boss, expecting them to talk about how to coach and better inform the individual. Instead, I was told, “So LA, you may want to dial it back a bit.” I was dumbfounded.
This was a perfect opportunity and coaching moment for the individual who felt threatened. Instead, he was told that I would be spoken to and coached to dial it back.
Wow, but also not wow. It happens all the time, every day. And this is why when women speak up, we need men to amplify. Women are exhausted. Women of color even more so.
We now need men to be as angry as we are about the inequality and violence against us—it’s the only way.
If you are reading this and want to stand beside us and help but don’t know how: pretend for a moment it was happening to you, that’s it. Trust me, you’ll feel angry.
Meet the Author
Helping Women Rise in Leadership • Career Coach • Retreat Curator for Women • Changing the Narrative to Combat AGEISM & Cancel the Open Season on Mature Women.