Friday, October 14, 2016

The Code of Silence

We women of the generation that were born about the time World War II began have lived our lives in a code of silence.

We were raised to be polite, respectful, not to "make waves" and to always "be a lady".  We did it too.
Teachers, ministers, relatives, friends of our parents and others were all part of this group.

Then came our days of not having the protection of living at home.  A whole new ballgame, to put it mildly.

Not everyone in the "outside" world lived the Golden Rule.  It was shocking to me.  Having been raised in a relatively religious family and gone to Catholic girl's school for a great part of my life, there was a whole other world out there.

Marrying at 19, it was not necessary to fight that world for long.  I had the protection of my I thought.  But, when the time came that I had to work, wow, that was something else.

I'm not going to go into the details of the sexual moves, inuendos, repercussions of telling someone "hands off" or worse, but suffice to say, I'm a battle worn woman just like all the other women who have been shocked to our core by the video recording last Friday, followed by the unbelievable comments of some people who act as though it was not the words of a sexual predator.

Even though I thought I had seen and heard a lot, believe me there IS a whole other world out there that thankfully most of us had never heard of.

Who had ever heard of alt-right, Breitbart, Bannon and ad nauseum?  We all knew about the candidate as there was an opportunity to see him on a TV show previously and to read his comments which, even at the time, were disgusting........and still are abhorrent.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday night I could not sleep.  The whole saga kept replaying in my mind along with the things that I had experienced in my life.

It was a relief yesterday to hear someone else say they were shocked to their core - Michelle Obama.  Her heartfelt speech will go down in history as the "words of women".  She said it all so eloquently and with such great dignity and empathy that I thought, "Okay, I'm not alone.  Someone else was as horrified and affected as I."

The code of silence of my generation, hopefully, is over.  My freedom from sexual harrassment and sexual assault occurred when I started my own company and had the financial and moral assurance to not associate with those kind of people.  I wish this for all girls and women.  Freedom.

As Michelle Obama said yesterday, "Enough is enough!"


Barbara Lane said...

Amen. Thank you for this.

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Well said Barbara. I wish Obama could go another four years... said...

Amen...I, too, have been harassed and was touched by Michelle's amazing address on the subject.

Lynne (WinnieViews) said...

Well said! Michelle Obama's speech yesterday was incredible (of course, she's been giving a string of incredible speeches lately, so she set her bar quite high). It has saddened me greatly to see some younger women align themselves with the alt right (even young mothers with daughters). Absolutely no awareness or respect for all the women who paved the way before them-- we still didn't even have the right to vote 100 years ago! Either they've been incredibly fortunate to never suffer the sexism and sexual harassment that we have, or they've been so completely dominated by the "boys will be boys" culture of their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and brothers that they're incapable of having an independent cohesive thought. Hopefully, having a woman president will start to change old perceptions and eventually move us forward.

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

With all the endless BS barraging our of senses day and night I can understand why you lost sleep.
Michelle's speech was spectacular and is a symbol that the future looks good.

The pitiful circus of idiots parading in the media - pundits, paid liars and pigs demonstrate quite clearly who's right and who's wrong.
As Trump keeps screaming "America is awful" - "Our lives are horrible" it's so easy to see what's awful in America and plainly it's Donald Trump and not the Obamas.

Retired Teacher said...

Thank you, Barbara, for that post. As a male, I cannot relate on a personal level to the harassment that women endure, but I am certainly not one of those Neanderthals that excuses Trump's reprehensible words and actions. Every time that sorry excuse for a human being draws close to Hillary in the polls, I find myself in a state of depression. I too have had some sleepless nights as my mind races thinking, "Do I want to live in a country with Trump as President?" He is unfit to be President on so many levels. Hopefully this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and we can sleep easily.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Barbara, for this wonderfully written post. I too have been harassed in the workplace many years ago. I followed through on my first reaction which was to slap my boss in the face. I was not afraid of losing my job and I quit. But like a good meek woman did give 2 weeks notice. Why? I do not know. As you indicated, we were ladies then and did the ¨proper¨ thing.

Babs said...

I have hesitated since last weekend to write this post. Again, it is negative in a way and personal. But, I just HAD to write it. I have slept well since. I was shocked at how the video Access Hollywood tape affected me. I replayed in my mind for three nights the "experiences" I had had but never said anything about. It was debilitating and upsetting to relive all of that.

I know that the job "experiences" would not have happened had I not been widowed and the sole source of income for my children. I would have quit those jobs. Starting the business at the age of 40 was the best thing I ever did.

The lack of civility on the part of one part in the words used, the conspiracy theory junk and just about everything else stresses me and hopefully most of the voting public that I know.

This has been an eye opening experience for many of us. The dialogue needs to continue for a long time to prevent derogatory comments, sexual aggression and all the rest of it from ever happening again. Democracy is at stake.

I'm relieved to see all the comments from you wonderful readers. I hope that writing this has helped men and women in some small way. Onward

crynoutloud said...

To me, Trump is a Bully. Nothing boils my blood like a Bully.
Ladies should use the face slap without hesitation. And if the point was not understood they should go to the face claw to expose the slow learner. Trump is despicable and his wife is not a class act either.
A big sigh of relief will be heard around the world after Trump is soundly defeated.

Babs said...

Crynoutloud, thanks for your comment. I too dislike bullies, intensely.

A face slap is effective, but unfortunately in some circumstances that is not possible. Sexual predators can be very cunning. I don't wish to go into details, but I will tell you that the first time I experienced sexual assault I was 12 or 13. I have never before told anyone this, not even my parents. Of course I thought somehow it was my fault in some way. Sad but true.