Let’s Evolve (for our daughters)

I’m re-posting this from a previous blog because obviously the world isn’t listening fast enough:

I’d been debating whether I should blog about this type of thing or not, but part of the reason I started my blog was so that I could have a voice in a capacity that I am not normally able in other aspects of my life.  I work within the business community in Chicago.  A great deal of the type of work that I do has to do with developing strong business relationships with business owners and other stakeholders within the Hispanic business community.  I also happen to be a young woman and I like to go out and have a good time by which I mean go out with friends, colleagues, etc. and have a couple of drinks while getting to know each other better or at an event etc. 
It has been more than once that certain men within this community have tried to leverage their position or the role they play within my current network as an excuse to be able to behave inappropriately towards me or towards other women.  It’s become increasingly frustrating for me to deal with and all the while I keep asking myself why I should have to deal with it. 
It’s a catch-22 situation with so many shades of gray.  There have been many many times when I’d like to tell the person exactly what I think porque “no tengo pelos en la lengua,” however I’m increasingly cautious of the nature of business relationships and knowing the type of animal I am dealing with.  Most of the time these men that behave so inappropriately are so threatened by women’s power or by feminine energy that politely telling them to please never touch you again or to please fuck off is a direct threat to their masculinity. (Of course I wouldn’t say it that way..but I’d want to)  Most of these men are dealing with so much insecurity that to threaten their masculinity in a public place among colleagues and friends would cause the type of reaction that can be explosive and incredibly mean.
As a young woman in business all I have is my reputation.  I need to be incredibly protective of it.  I am careful of the circles I am around and try and keep those circles tight.  Rejecting the advances of someone who is influential within this type of community and that has a strong voice within the organizations and corporations that I work with calling you a man-hating feminist or bitch generally doesn’t preserve your reputation.  Also, when so much in this world is based on perception and not reality; the smoke and mirrors of who you are becomes quite the ugly picture.  I would hate for all the amazing men that I know, that can call themselves feminists, that do their best for their sisters and daughters and wives to help advance other young women in business without having to play this game, to think of me as something so far from what I actually am.
So I sit back, biting my tongue, lumps forming in my throat out of anger, and smile sweetly laughing along to the disgusting conversation while sinking deeper into my chair.  What can I do?  If I ask them to please not speak to me in that manner in the nicest way, then I become the prude that everyone feels they need to be careful around to protect my feelings and that’s not who I am.  I’m simply a rational human being that hates having to put up with other peoples’ issues or bullshit simply because I was born 26 years ago a woman.  I make sure they feel my icy reaction not encouraging their behavior, but am I condoning it by not saying anything?  Have I become part of the game that I hated?
I am so grateful to all the women that came before me in business for paving the way so that I could work within this world and feel around me an endless sea of possibilities.  We still have so much work to do but now it’s up to me and the intelligent women of my generation to do it.
I had had quite a few close calls with men in the past while traveling by myself in Mexico and in Spain.  They upset me at the time so much but they were “cultural differences” or “cultural misunderstandings.”  I was different; I came from a world where women could say what they want, could be free, could travel by themselves and have a great conversation with someone of the opposite sex and it not mean she was wanting anything more.  Now, I see this in my community and my own backyard and the issue is more complex than what I ever imagined.  It’s imbedded in all societies in some capacity and it’s going to be a long hard road to change it, but I’ve got my walking shoes on and I’m in it for the long haul.
Fuerza to all of my sisters!
I leave you with this poem I wrote when I was 19:
When I was younger I used to turn my turtle onto her shell just to watch her extend her neck and flip herself over.  Now I’m rolling out of someone else’s bed with the taste of vodka and cigarettes in my too-dry mouth remembering voices praying a thousand Santa Marias in the living room of my abuela’s house the day she died.  My parents used to carry wooden rosaries, my brother and I would carry thick fallen branches we’d find in the woods.  They always gave me splinters and made my hands feel dirty but it wasn’t as bad as the time I stood, just barely, pushed against a fence my hands forced over my head by a stronger hand, while the other wandered around my chest looking for what other secret places he could find next…my hamster used to dig into the wooden chips of his cage to try to escape, but he never did like I did, into this giant ant colony of a city and life is writing me Post-It notes:
  • ·         Don’t forget to pay your rent
  • ·         Remember how he loved you once?
  • ·         And so Jen…who are you now?

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