While working on my book in early August, I gleefully tweeted:
My book is about how the way words used to recruit, address, describe, assess, and evaluate women in the workplace demonstrate how much we value and understand their work as legitimate labor (spoiler alert: we generally don't.) I was adding emails and tweets and job ads from my own life to demonstrate how this undermining played out in my own life and saw it plain as day: men who were familiar with my work and ostensibly my friends and peers addressing me as if I were incompetent, in over my head, and generally just sort of a silly girl who got lucky.
The past few weeks have made me second-guess many of these inclusions, seeing as these men were not threatening or harassing me. I wondered if I should indeed use their names when there are so many more worthy candidates for exposure for their behavior. As vile, criminal allegations against men have emerged, those of us who have been merely undermined, disrespected, or dismissed feel lucky.
But when I literally thought to myself, "Maybe you should just calm down," I realized I was capitulating to a culture that sets standards far too low when it comes to what must be permissible for men to do and tolerated by women and those whose gender identities diverge from "acceptable" ones. Writing in The Washington Post this week about men's behavior in media, I said,, "To “boohoo” for the poor, hapless men who send creepy messages and invite women to lunch for ostensibly professional reasons then turn flirtatious is to take the already low standards we have for men in the workplace and bury them underground." Well, I'd like to dig those standards up, raise them as high as the ones we are expected to jump over every day.
I don't just want us to feel safe in the world, I want us to flourish here. I don't think that a demand for decency, respect, and rightfully crediting women is counterproductive or derailing the sexual harassment conversation, it is merely approaching the angle from all sides to weed out the core issue of hostility to women whose work our culture insists is less than.
And so I'm redoubling my efforts to collect these receipts of sorts to put in the book, a collection that will say, "You want the evidence, HERE is all the evidence!" So if you have texts, Slack screenshots, emails, HR evaluations, tweets, any documentation where you were addressed or described at work in a way that was gendered in a way that was diminishing, disrespectful, condescending, and all the other shit that these communications are, I would love to hear from you. Your information can be protected and you don't have to have the person's name go in the book (they can be of any gender, these toxic dispatches can come from all directions).
I am especially interested in hearing from women and non-binary folks from the following jobs: childcare providers, teachers, technology company employees, sex workers, models, people who work in politics, nurses, artists and creators, heads of companies and CEOs, academics, and administrative workers. The book also explores how differently this behavior manifests for people of color, particular black women, and so I would welcome your perspectives and experiences as well. If all of that doesn't describe you but you've still got a story to share, go ahead and send it as it might have a home in several other chapters.
If you would like to share your story, please fill out this form and I'll be getting back to people as soon as I can. I hope you're all having good days out there, though the more I watch the news of these workplaces unfold, those are hard to come by.