Are you Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?

improper-advancesI got embroiled in a discussion a few days ago that reminded me of a problem that I knew existed years ago, but had conveniently forgotten. I’ve run into it before, when I used to attend a lot of conventions every year. I guess whether it’s the NCC or a search industry conference, sexist incidents apparently still abound.

Women being accosted by drunken asses (okay, maybe they weren’t all drunk), with the apparent assumption that any woman there had come only for the opportunity to jump in the sack with the first slobbering buffoon they came across.

Not having been raised to stand by and watch a lady get manhandled against her wishes, I stepped in a few times. Once, I got my ass handed to me by a little guy that had probably earned a black belt in whatever that shit was that he used on me, once I ended up in jail and a couple of times I kicked the crap out of someone that desperately needed it. It’s all good, though, ’cause in every case, the lady in question managed to get herself to somewhere else before the dust settled.

That was many years ago, though. Now, it probably wouldn’t take a black belt to lay me out. But I’d still stand up, because I was raised to know how a gentleman should act and how a lady should be treated. At sixty, I’m not likely to change my spots now.

Now if you’re one of those women that bristles when a man holds the door for you or stands when you approach or tips his hat, you can either stay out of my way or get used to it. I don’t do it ’cause I think you’re the “weaker sex” or to be condescending. I do it ’cause it’s part of who I am. I was raised that way and I raised my son to be the same way (he is) and my daughter to graciously accept it (she does). My grandsons and granddaughters are the same too, which makes me damned proud. We do it out of respect.

But this post isn’t really for you ladies. And it’s not for those ladies that are decidedly non-feminist, that enjoy (or even expect) to be catered to. It’s for the ass-clowns that think that being a few hundred miles from home and six drinks into the evening entitles them to act like Neanderthals.

To the guys that corner women at search conferences and make blatant propositions, to the dudes that think it’s cute to treat a woman like “one of the guys” by being deliberately vulgar or suggestive and to the pukes that haven’t got a ​clue ​when a woman obviously wants nothing to do with them- you all apparently somehow feel more ​manly​ for having shown your ass – you’re all sorry specimens.lecher

One can only hope you’re all sterile. The idea of any of you being in a position to pass on such attitudes to a son is frightening. That your attitudes could be teaching a daughter that this is her lot in life… revulsion doesn’t begin to describe it.

Ask yourself sometime, if you were nearby and saw some jerk acting like that to your daughter, what would your reaction be? Would it be funny then? Would it be cute? Would you just shine it on and go about your business? If you have ​any ​ redeeming qualities as a man, then I’d guess you wouldn’t stand for it. If you would, I look forward to meeting you in Hell… you’ll be my new hobby.

Not to leave anyone out, how about those of you that were gentlemanly enough to never act that way, but not enough so to step up and put a stop to it? You think you’re better? Guess what – you’re just enablers! ​You ​sent those ass-clowns the message that it’s okay, that it’s just all in fun. ​ You may have been laughing at it, you may have even glanced disapprovingly at each other. But if you didn’t do anything, you fell far short of the mark that might have made your father (AND your mother) proud of you.

And to the guys that think that sexual confrontations, gender discrimination and such abusive behavior is rare or nonexistent, I say, do what I did. Talk to some women that have attended a number of search conferences – ask them. When I did, I found that most didn’t have ​one ​such episode they’d endured… they had ​several​!

As for the folks that promote their conferences with “playmates” and booth babes, you’re only slightly removed from the cesspool. Instead of taking advantage of an opportunity to improve the situation, you’re just taking advantage, period. You guys must be lovely fathers, too. Would you let ​your ​daughter be a booth babe or playmate?

Knock-it-offNow, just in case there’s still anyone out there I haven’t pissed off yet, let me take a quick shot across the bow of the ladies that put up with this garbage without saying boo. You do know that you’re enabling that behavior too, right?

I understand that everybody has their own way of handling things, but do ​something! ​ A well placed kick, a drink in the face, scream “NO!”, anything but quiet acceptance. You don’t have to endure that crap! And I am CERTAIN that any conference is likely to have several men present that would agree and would step up, if they were aware of what was going on.

That a problem like this still exists in the 21st century is amazing – and sad. Even sadder is the thought of all the folks that, upon reading this, will tell themselves:

 

  • It wasn’t my fault, I was drunk
  • It wasn’t his fault, he was drunk
  • I didn’t mean anything by it
  • But I apologized
  • I didn’t want to make a scene
  • Bullshit, that stuff doesn’t happen

It happens, folks. And the blame for it falls on ALL our shoulders. This really is one of those situations where if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. I know which side I stand on… how about you?

About Sheldon Campbell

Doc Sheldon is co-founder of Top Shelf Copy – a content strategy and SEO services firm with offices in San Diego, California, and Albany, New York – where he specializes in technical SEO and Content Strategy. Doc has over 30 years experience in marketing and professional journalism bolstering his 9 years online marketing background. In addition to his primary interest – the Semantic Web and the technologies to achieve that end – Doc also performs organic search optimization services for Top Shelf’s clients worldwide, specializing in content strategy services.

Comments

  1. Doc, Thanks for this.
    Only recently I was talking to a lovely young man (really a sweet and respectful person) on his workplace and we witnessed a man being suggestive with a lady working at the bar. The lady’s face showed the fatigue of having to endure this every single day, and having to smile at it to keep her job.

    As we left the bar I mentioned to the man I was with: did you see what happened there at the bar? It happens all the time, to all women, no matter how senior or respected in their profession all women have to leave with this kind of behaviour.

    But he hadn’t seen, or rather registered…
    What happened? They were just joking, the woman was laughing too, he’s a respected professional.

    He really hadn’t seen it. That caused me quite a bit of thinking… It brought me back to when I was working in a men world, learned to pick my battles and stopped expecting my male colleagues to understand how their point of view might just be different from ours (womens).

    But you are right, raising respectful sons and self confident daughters (and of course, the other way round!) is the best (only) chance of ever having men and women treating each other with respect.

    Letizia

    P.S.
    I’m now it Italy, where things are slightly worse in this respect than they used to be in London. Having clear policies doesn’t change people but makes them a little more aware (men) and confident (women).

  2. Hello, Letizia. Thanks for commenting.

    My first thought, reading your comment, was that it WAS seen – just discounted. Thinking about it a bit more, though, I imagine there’s probably some sort of subconscious filtering in play, perhaps similar to walking in the park and not really registering on the normal sight of birds flying overhead. A swooping pram, on the other hand, would probably break through our consciousness. ;)

    Perhaps that’s the key… added awareness as a result of reclassification of what is subconsciously registered as “normal”. Maybe that’s why I “see” that sort of thing when it happens near me, while others don’t. That sort of behavior has never been acceptable or normal in my eyes, while for some others, although they might never actually act that way themselves, they simply see another bird (pun intended).

    Hey, guys… pay attention… flying prams!

  3. A touch of serendipity… my buddy, Barry Adams, posted Fighting Sexism at Digital Conferences on a similar vein today on State of Search

  4. I’ve never been to a search conference but you’ve made them sound so delightful that I just can’t wait. I did have the great displeasure of attending a real estate conference a few years back that was so horrible that I think its a big reason why I don’t attend search conferences anymore!

  5. I have 3 soon to be 4 daughters and I’d like to think they will know not to be in those situations where drunk guys are confused about the possibilities.

    But, making good choices means putting yourself in situations where you can thrive. Hanging out in areas where drunk guys are is asking for trouble…even if it is someone else’s fault.

    Thanks for the post. I hope there are still people out there who will stick up for someone who is in distress…guy or girl. It takes a village.

  6. I have daughters and granddaughters, Mark, so I know where you’re coming from. What makes me see red is that it’s even necessary for any woman to have to be concerned with that sort of behavior. That it happens in a gathering of professionals is just one more thorn.

    Your closing statement is precisely why I wrote this piece… maybe it’ll wake up a couple of villagers. ;) And I agree, there are still people out there that won’t stand by and watch this sort of thing go on. Those that do are just as bad as the jerks that do it, as far as I’m concerned.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

  7. I don’t have a daughter yet, but if ever I’ll have one, I would absolutely teach her to stand up for herself and not let those drunken fools step over her.

  8. To answer your question, I’m part of both. I could be part of the problem but I’m trying hard to be a solution. I know that even if people say there’s gender equality nowadays, we can’t avoid discrimination which happens mostly to women. Abuse and harassment are common forms of disrespect anywhere in the world whether at home or workplace. Women should know how not to keep silent, stand for their rights and fight for it. It could be difficult at first because our society’s mindset is somehow still old fashioned, nonetheless we are all just humans who commit mistakes but we should never tolerate one.

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