Harassment-Free Workplaces Are Too Low A Standard (A call for your stories for book inclusion)

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. 

Name *
Please describe the work situation that arose, what industry and role it was in, and other pertinent details to how you were treated.
Sharing Documentation *
Would you be willing to share the documentation you have of this treatment? (It can be anonymized but must have authenticating details on it)
Interview? *
Would you be willing to talk about the incident for potential inclusion in the book? Your name can be changed and your employer's name redacted.

How I Learned My Book WAs Real, Seven Months AFter I Published It

The title of this blog post is entirely misleading, I knew my book was real because I wrote the thing and got sent 30 copies of it. I still have lots of them and they're sitting on my bookshelf in my living room and since my Airbnb profile doesn't mention the book (cause that would be weird), I like to think all my guests think I'm an unhinged fan, hoarding copies like a way cuter version of Mark David Chapman. But I digress. 

I also know the book exists because it has an Amazon page and because people hashtag it on Instagram with #allthelivesiwant and #alanamassey and I get Twitter @-s about it. But my favorite types of dispatch about the book are 1) when the book is photographed with an animal because I believe that our pets read our books and rifle through our bills in judgment when we're away and 2) when the book is photographed in a bookstore because then it has book neighbors and like, people have to look at my name even if they don't want to! 

So here are a few of my faves.

Alana massey All The Lives I want Powells Portland parents.jpg

The adorable elves I call my parents found it at Powell's in Portland! It was front-facing because it was special.

(I wouldn't put it past them if they actually moved my book from obscurity to this section, the sneaky beasts!) 

Sarah Hagi, a BeaUTIFUL genius, gave this compelling narrative of discovery from the wilds of Toronto. LOOK AT THAT CAMERA WORK! 

Uploaded by alanakmassey on 2017-09-01.
Alana Massey All the Lives I Want Womenscraft.jpg

Here it is in Womenscraft, a bookstore whose tagline is "The Spirit Of Feminism"!!!! 

And I am ABOUT that life. 

All The Lives I Want Barnes and Noble Front Table Alana Massey.PNG

Here's a tweet about it being on the front table at Barnes & Noble, Union Square, an NYC landmark where literally everyone has stopped to pee at least once. 

(I have heard that publishers pay to have it placed here but WHATEVER FOREVER.) 

All The Lives I Want Alana Massey Strand Bookstore.PNG

MEANWHILE ON INSTAGRAM, The Strand declared me their #WriterCrushWednesday and it got me pregnant almost immediately.

The baby is due in November and it is actually a book. 

Alana Massey All The Lives I Want Carrie Fisher and Rebecca Solnit.jpg

My friend Evan from grad school saw that it was placed on a table among heroes and legends!


OK, you get the idea! I won't share all of these photos but there are more and they have made days bright on SO many days since this book published. But reader, I must tell you, as much as I loved receiving all of these dispatches about the many destinations my book turned in, I still felt as though they might have been FRAUDULENT. Like, perhaps that people had taken pity on me and bought the book and placed it in a bookstore to make me, a lowly farmer, feel good.

That's because except for times when I was promoting the book in stores and there was an actual person in charge of making sure there were stacks of them present had I actually seen it in a bookstore. I was too scared all this time to go into a bookstore and see if maybe it was on the shelves. Like, I knew intellectually that there was not a massive conspiracy on behalf of my self-esteem to make clear that my book was in far-flung shops across the land, but I have as many delusions of mediocrity as I do of grandeur. Then on August 29th my internet was being a shitbag diva so I went to do work at Inquiring Minds, the local  book store in my town of Saugerties, population 20K. I went to leave AND THEN WHAT TO MY WONDERING EYES DID APPEAR ON THE "NEW RELEASES" SECTION:


Now mind you, it wasn't sticking out like that but I know my book's glittery spine when I see it so I pulled it out and let it shine there, the single copy (no longer a new release but hangin' with them anyway, like a BITCH WHO DOES WHAT SHE WANTS). 

Naturally, I also took this photo to commemorate the ordeal:

Alana Massey All the Lives I want.JPG

And that, my friends, is how I learned that the world did not conspire to convince me I had  a book possibly buying in the world. It is a good feeling after a lot of bad ones recently. Thanks for reading.