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'Good men, where are you?' How a Kelowna business leader pioneered her own #metoo in 1984

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Linda Edgecombe
December 08, 2017 - 12:30 PM

 


OPINION


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A Few Good Men. Are there any left? Are there any out there?

The now almost daily unfolding of another famous male who has been charged with sexual misconduct — rape, abuse, harassment etc. — just makes my heart sink and rise all at the same time.

I'm mad because we are not changing and happy that women are finally speaking up.

I’m exhausted, pissed off and elated, but mostly just sad. Because this is what my daughters have to look forward to.

#metoo

I decided in 1976 at the age of 16 that I was going to become a feminist. I had started noticing injustices towards women, that, in my mind and disposition, was something I was not going to stand for. So I signed up and became a card-carrying Gloria Steinem feminist. And it still happened to me. Rape, abuse, and harassment.

OH “Not me,” I said. That will never happen to me.

And when it did, I blamed myself of course, because I had had too many ciders at a party.

“Not me,” I said because I provoked the punch that left knuckle marks on my chin. “Not me,” I said about the daily touching and creepy behaviour from a colleague, because I wore a top that was too tight.

Yes, it also happened to me…

And in my naive mind, at the age of 24, when I had finally had enough, I spoke up. I thought “the buck stops here?” This shit had gone on for far too long. The truth will prevail. And these men in my life, their behaviours had gone on long before I ever complained and thus started the landslide of the first-ever sexual harassment charges being formally laid by me within the Civic Employee’s Union in Edmonton.

I’ll just cut to the chase. I charged a co-worker (both of us Union Employees) with sexual harassment and the City, the union and the Human Rights Commission did not know what to do with us. Everyone had an agenda and I sat there watching him lie in front of my face, losing all my female colleagues who were friends because in 1984 NO ONE wanted to have to deal with this at work. And of course, nothing happened to him. Something written on his file, whatever that means. But the wise City did take it upon themselves that all City employees would get ‘Sexual Harassment Training’ and the bonus for me is I got to literally sit in the same room as the asshole who harassed me, and get trained on the subject.

That’s irony.

So here we are 33 years later, and men’s behaviour has not changed, but for some reason, we women finally have. The groundswell of women finding their voices and courage to say “ENOUGH!” Seriously WTF? And as a mom of two 20 something daughters, I keep asking myself, how do I guide them and help them stay safe? And I think I’m strong. The Stats are sickening. 

Click here for some straight up numbers on Sexual Violence.

So I have been asking, what’s actually changed? Are women speaking more, yes they are. But why have the 17 women who spoke up against Trump not been heard (Fake Assaults)? Why haven’t the over 50 women who were raped by Cosby been heard? Why did the women who spoke up about Jian Ghomeshi get their character questioned and not his?

So what’s really happening is that corporations are now realizing that if they don’t act quickly and swiftly to fire these assholes, they will lose market share. So as we (women rise up and speak) know what we are actually affecting is not only the behaviour of men but the purse strings who employ them. So shop wisely moving forward.

Good Men, where are you? Please start talking. Start telling your colleagues and buddies who are sexualizing the women in their lives, (co-workers, friends, spouses and daughters) to re-think how you ACTUALLY see women. As a human you have this thing called ‘free will’ and you are in charge of how you think, act and feel. It’s not just your genitals that rule the roost. We all know the media is not helping but you have a brain and the ability to choose how you want to be with and see women. And please teach your sons how they need to re-think how they think about and see females in their lives as well.

So where to from here? Today, some amazing women in my life and I are filling bags for homeless and vulnerable women in the Okanagan where we live. It’s one way for me to take back some control and give back where help is needed. And as a professional who is in the “Positivity” business, I need something to show me that there is still some light in the darkness that seems to be more than just the norm these days. What will you be doing to wrap up 2017 and opening up to in 2018 to lift up the human experience so we all can feel hopeful ringing in the New Year?

PS. I have been avoiding chiming in on this topic for months now. I guess I decided today that I just didn’t want to be so angry and needed to get it on virtual paper. So after the news with the firing of Matt Lauer, I just couldn’t stay quiet anymore.

PPS. For the record, I do know there are good men out there but not enough who are willing to stand with women and voice their intolerance.

This guest column is reprinted with permission from the author's blog. Linda Edgecombe is a funny motivational keynote speaker, change resilience strategist, team engagement and accountability expert and considered among one of the Top 60 Motivational Speakers in the World. She makes her home in the Central Okanagan. 


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