Let’s just say it: The #MeToo movement bringing light to sexual harassment is also therefore about bullying, i.e., workplace bullying.
When I listen to the stars wringing out the stalled secrets in the movie mogul board/bed room, I relive the trauma of Anita Hill, and the efforts of Mia Farrow when they hung their abused souls on the media’s metaphorical clothesline. So that was decades ago. We’ve long known of these hidden material flaws but, as a society, have been remiss in mending them.
For example: in the 70’s, I know many women who remember having their buttocks pinched or swatted in the workplace, in the x-ray file room, in the board room of Mad Men fame or even the sanctuary of the church. Power over another in this highly sexualized manner was accepted then. We saw it in the 60’s films about 007. In the 80-90’s I reported sexual harassment when a supervisor at NASA subcontractor made unwanted advances and wouldn’t stop. Not long ago, I heard the report of a female professor being asked to lie down like a blanket over her dean as a favor, for a promotion. Bullying, sexual harassment has been normalized in the U.S. Now with this movement, from the senate/house to the movie set, from the exam room to the music room, we are hearing the voices over the movie magnate or the academia’s machinery. It’s machinery coming to terms with the weaving and sewing of women’s lives.
Not unlike the movie Ground Hog day in which the main character relives a certain day over and over again, we are in fact reliving the collective injuries of a whole swath of people. Eventually the hero learns how to be a kinder, gentler soul. Like another movie, How to Make An American Quilt, we, again collectively, are sewing and repairing our societal quilt. We are repairing with bold threads, our voices, and saying: We must all be treated with respect.
Disrespect allows for bullying; and bullying sullies our humanity. Marching with banners, voting regularly, running for office are all ways the movement is pinning corrective notions to our psyche. Saying “stop” is not going to change eons of viewing women as property or chattel; it will take a whole passionate wreath wrapped in many yarns and colors of people to effectively sew new cultural norms and respects. It will take more women in government, women in the Senate, women in business, women in head positions. It will take more female artists, weavers, designers, planners, and faculty to assert women deserve equal pay for equal work and women are leaders too.
The #MeToo movement is again our beginning.
--Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]