February 23, 2015

Just because it’s not happening to you… doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Me: Ugh. It drives me crazy that when boys speak out at school, they’re called “confident leaders.” But when girls do it, they’re called “bossy.”

Person who shall not be named: Well, that was certainly never my experience when I was at school! My daughter doesn’t experience that, either. I really think you’re exaggerating. Times have changed.

Me: Oh, is that so? [red smoke fuming out of my ears]

 

Look, people.

It’s time for a wake-up call and I don’t mind ringing the alarm clock buzzer. LOUD.

Just because something is not happening to you… doesn’t mean it’s not happening to others.

When someone confesses a struggle, a problem, or an injustice, the appropriate response is to:

– Shut your mouth and listen, and…

– Try to HELP in any way you can. Even if all you can do is offer a compassionate, non-judgmental, safe place for a fellow human being to express their pain.

The appropriate response is NOT to:

– Brush it off with, “You’re crazy” or “You’re imagining things” or “You’re just overreacting.”

NO, people. NO.

If you are a woman and you are compensated fairly in the workplace, that is awesome. Just as it should be.

But just because you’re not experiencing salary discrimination doesn’t mean it’s not happening for others. (Just ask the top female CEOs who still make significantly less than their male counterparts. Or the millions of full-time working women who still make 78 cents for every dollar that a man with the exact same skill level will earn.)

If you’ve never had any issues with body image, bingeing or weight gain, that’s fantastic. Seriously.

But just because you’ve never experienced the pain of emotional overeating or food addiction doesn’t mean it’s not happening for others (Just ask the millions of Americans who are overweight, or even morbidly obese, and cannot figure out how to turn it around.)

If you have never experienced sexism or harassment, you are a magical unicorn and I’m happy for you.

But just because you’re not experiencing harassment doesn’t mean it’s not happening for others. (Just ask the woman who got followed home one night by a gang of eight football players, yelling from their car as she walked along the sidewalk, asking if she was a “dude” or a “dyke.” Yeah. That happened to a friend of mine.)

If you can read women’s magazines with headlines like “Make him want you!” and “Slim in 7 days!” without feeling completely insane, bravo. I wish I had your mental fortitude.

But just because you’re not negatively affected by female-oriented media doesn’t mean it’s not happening for others. (70% of teen girls say that magazines “strongly influenced what they thought was the ideal body type.” Yeah. It’s happening.)

It might not be happening to you. It might not be happening to anyone you know.

That doesn’t mean it’s not happening. That doesn’t mean that others are immune.

When a sister describes a stressful experience or an injustice, please listen.

Say: “I am sorry that is happening for you.”

Not: “You’re delusional.”

Denying and diminishing other women’s pain hurts us ALL.

This concludes your wake-up call.

Susan

PS. Sound off at Facebook.

XOXO,
Susan

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