I doubt there is any woman over the age of 50 (and maybe even 40) who has not experienced some form of discrimination or harassment at the hands of an authoritarian individual or employer. I have watched the movement unfold, with a lot of high ranking individuals being called out for their attitudes and behaviors. I simply could not bring myself to participate in the movement on Facebook or wherever because it is not going to change any aspect of my past #MeToo experiences. I have evolved to a point in my life where, even before this movement, no one is going to discriminate or harass me because I am a woman. I have received threats and attempts to discredit my efforts & my reputation while I was on our Condo’s Board of Directors, but those were not gender-biased.
When trying to think back to my first #MeToo experience, it has to have been when I was in college. I had dropped out of college to support putting my “then” husband through school for his PhD. After he received his PhD and moved on from our relationship (aka divorce), I went back to school to study for my Bachelor’s degree in 1975-76. I was in a marketing class with a guest speaker from Xerox. I was enthralled at the aspect of earning a good living that would not require a second income (from the spouse).
He obviously did a great selling job because as I was graduating, I went to the local Xerox office in Honolulu. I asked for an appointment to speak with a hiring manager. I was given an application which I filled out and submitted it exactly as they told me. I went home with great expectations to wait for the call to have an appointment. Six weeks went by. I called weekly. I was told the hiring manager had my application. After six weeks I was told the application had disappeared and I would need to re-submit. So down to their office I trekked and filled out the application again. I copied it this time and had them sign for it. I was white, 27 years old and female. What could go wrong? Once again I went home to wait. I again called weekly. Finally they gave me a date and time to show up for my initial interview. I was nervous but eager.
The interview was a farce. The white male hiring manager made it very clear to me that hell would freeze over before a woman would work for him in a sales position. He suggested I should find a husband, go home, cook and make babies. All four suggestions were not listed in my goals. He dropped my application into his trash can, asked me to leave. He told me not to try re-applying for a sales position with Xerox because the application would go the same place my original and second application had – the trash can.
Needless to say, I was bitter. When I would run into a male Xerox salesman (it was the 1970’s singles scene at the time, so they were out in force), I coined a phrase to dismiss them, just has I had been dismissed by that hiring manager: “Xeroxed Ken Dolls”. They actually did all look alike: male, white, late 20’s or early 30’s, leather jackets, polished leather shoes, leather briefcase and driving a Porsche 911.
I was not intimidated into giving up my quest to make enough money to support myself. Sales, I had determined, would come the closest to producing the income I was looking for. I would be disabused of my naiveté over the next few years. The next #MeToo will be forthcoming in my next entry:#MeToo-The Next Act
Share your first #MeToo experience in the comment box below. Thanks!