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Commentary: Maybe... 

What it will take for things to be different

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You remember that you live in a state that elected a governor (four times) who said the motto of his administration was "Up with skirts, down with pants."

Maybe you had heard things before you took that job, but now it's become real: a vulgar comment, an unwanted hug or touch. A come-on that may be presented as a joke, but you rightly interpret as a threat.

  You wonder if that's just the way your workplace is, if you're just making too much of it, if speaking out would make you a "bad sport."

  Sure, there are laws against this kind of thing. But if you come forward, you may be smeared as a liar, an opportunist, promiscuous. You might never work in your field again.

  You wonder if anyone would believe you, or if you'd be blamed.

  Or maybe it's simpler than that. If you don't get paid this week, you literally don't feed your family next week or pay your rent next month.

  Maybe, just maybe, you think, if you work hard, you can advance in your field, demonstrate your talent, achieve your goals, realize your dreams, despite it all. And after all, you don't know another woman — your friends, your mother, your sister — who doesn't have a similar story. Some are better, some worse, but everyone's got a story like yours. Or a dozen. Or more.

  So you keep going to work.

  Maybe you start taking long showers right after you get home, trying to rinse off the feeling of going to that place every day. And standing in the shower, you think about where you live, and the culture you come from.

  You remember that you live in a state that elected a governor (four times) who said the motto of his administration was "Up with skirts, down with pants." A governor who boasted "I give blood for them to make Viagra" and, when asked about a claim he had slept with six women in one night, said, "No, it wasn't that way. [The writer] was gone when the last one came in."

  You think of your state's legislator who "joked" about passing weight limits for strippers, and how he and other legislators felt comfortable enough to pile up dollar bills on a podium in front of their female counterparts. And of the sitting Senator who confessed to a "very serious sin" and was re-elected in a landslide.

  And you think about the man who boasted, "I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them ... Grab 'em by the p_y. You can do anything." And of how that man got elected president — with enthusiastic evangelical support.

  You remember all this and you wonder what it will take for things to be different — what the resignation of one celebrity chef, or one pundit, or one Hollywood producer, will change for a woman like you.

  You think it could be the start of something.

  You know it will involve more than just a few "bad apples" losing their jobs. And that the hardest and most important thing will be how men change the culture and the way all men — especially the most powerful among them — think of women.


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