#Me Too

This essay has been perculating in my subconscious for weeks now.

I have been learning from the media (yes, them:) and from the young women around me that many things I have experienced as a female, both as a  professional and as a professional patient, are sooo not ok.

I mean, of course  I knew that already.  I just preferred to either not think about it or felt like it was a hopeless cause by this point in my life.  Something like: there are always going to be male chauvinist pigs on this planet and I am going to run into my share like every other woman, so deal with it.

Don’t most women feel that way?

I don’t know anymore.  Apparently my millennial daughter does not feel that way. She expects and demands better.

My thinking about the things I have experienced has always been along these lines: when I was younger I was so insecure that I was actually relieved when someone cat called me.  At my high school I was a nerd of the highest order and the popular boys usually barked when I went by.  That’s right: they barked.  And if I didn’t understand that they told me it was because I was a dog.  As much as I like dogs I should have taken it as a compliment but not at that age!

I never lacked for boyfriends or male attention; I just thought I was liked for reasons other than the way I looked.

It has taken me half a century to admit there was something else actually going on.

I think a large part of that awareness is multi-fold: a. It doesn’t happen as much at 53.  b. I put up with less  poo these days. c. I am more aware thanks to what I have learned.

I always thought that unless you were assaulted, you really had no grounds to complain.

But then I started to think.  And OH, the memories! Every professional  position I have ever held as a professor or as a minister (except for St. Edward’s University)  has brought “incidents” along with it.  And, as I have become such a professional patient, I have things happen all the time that I find downright embarrassing.

I get really, really tired of being called, “sweetheart, honey and dear.”  It makes me feel like an old lady or a small animal.  I AM  sort of a small animal but that isn’t the point!

A doctor recently put his hand on my knee and told me I was too attractive for a particular medication because the side effects might be deadly: WHAT?!!

Reflecting back I think of my first teaching position and realize I only got it because the department head was “into me.”  He asked me to sit on his lap at the interview (and no, I did not).   Then he went on and on about how he had a girl friend my size once and that he always kissed her on his lap because she was so short. Gross!  He was at least thirty years my senior.  Thank goodness he liked my teaching.

As a clergy person I was told I needed to “man up’ when I asked for reduced hours in order to care for my family.  That was once of the most egregious things I ever heard and it helped me clarify the fact that parish ministry was NOT my thing.  It didn’t matter that my supervisor thought I was doing a good job.  It was just one of those things we are told by those in power and it tipped the balance for me.

I remember a friend who is a doctor told me once, “I have never been able to wear my stethoscope around my neck and I  didn’t know why for a long time.  I finally realized it was too damned  phallic.  I don’t need a phallic symbol to be a good doctor. ”  And she was;  a good doctor and a very feminine person.  She helped me think through some things.

So where does all of this leave us?  I have no idea!

It has just made me think a lot about, you know… life.

And it makes me hopeful  that things are becoming better for the women that come after me.  I am excited to hear how little they put up with!

Am I more outspoken when I am spoken to as a tiny pet in medical situations? No, I am not.  I am afraid to cause waves.  I just don’t have the energy or the latitude to go there.  It is hard enough to find good doctors.  I know that is a stupid excuse, but it is the honest darned truth.

I figure pretty soon I will be hearing, “do you have any grandchildren, dearie?”

That will be new and different!

Ah well, I would love some feedback on this one.  Please let me know what you have experienced.  It could be that I am just nuts.  That has happened before… that I am just nuts. But, I kinda think not this time.  

I  do know that men experience these things as well.  My son has been through some genuinly awful things with an ex girlfriend.  Men should be able to speak up as well.

I guess that point is we are all complicated beings and being boiled down to an object just doesn’t work.

I am so much more than an object!  I am entire pain in the ass:)

Oh dear, all I see now are nodding heads.. Whoops!