Elegance

As often happens, I’d just written the word elegant in responding to an article about the 3 women who came forward publicly together this AM to tell their stories of harassment by Donald Trump. Don’t worry … I will not use my blog for political talk.

Like most women, I’ve had experience with male acts of sexual aggression.  I won’t talk about the bigger ones, but  to bring the point home about how even the smallest things can hit hard:  Long ago and far away in the land of my daily job, a co-worker I thought was cute said to me that he liked watching me walk because I looked so graceful and elegant. He said it genuinely, with no trace of sleeze.  I heard the compliment and was flattered.  But as the days went on, I realized I’d become self-conscious about walking around since that conversation. This was my workplace.  I didn’t want to have to feel self-conscious about my body there!

I finally spoke to the colleague.  It was very hard to do; I stuttered and fumbled for the words. He was shocked, apologized, said he shouldn’t have said it and that he’d kind of known it before he spoke. Things got a little better, but not altogether.  And I think the fact that I remember it in such detail 40 yrs later speaks volumes.

 

One thought on “Elegance

  1. Lovely poem, Ellen. My very first blogger friend, Steven Williams, who encouraged me to start my own blog then to stick with it when my devotion flagged, is an atheist who blogs primarily about his thoughts on philosophy. If you’re interested in checking him out, you can find him at “A Questioner’s Journey”, https://aquestionersjourney.wordpress.com/

    If you look him up, tell him I said howdy!

    The preface to your poem reminds me of my most vivid memory of being awakened to the existence of sexual harassment in the workplace. It was during a graduate seminar in Rhetoric & Composition I was enrolled in sometime between autumn of 1999 and summer of 2000. The professor was a woman, and I was the only male in a class of 15. A lively discussion ensued after my professor told us about a time a male professor in the department had routinely complimented on how pretty she was, how nice she looked, how much he liked her outfits, etc. Having been raised by strong women who always encouraged me to compliment people when compliments were due, I had to ask my professor why she considered such remarks to be inappropriate and offensive. Before she could respond, almost every one of my classmates began taking me to task and explaining it to me. It’s funny how now, 18 or 19 years later, that’s one of the few moments I so vividly remember from that class. Since then I’ve had occasion to learn a lot more about the pervasiveness of this behavior in our society, and I’m glad we appear finally to be having a public reckoning. I hope it lasts and has a lasting transformative effect on our behavior.

    Take care, be well, and happy blogging.

    Denny

    Like

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