What I am about to share with you is what I like to call The Evolution of Emily and Sexual Harassment.
Generally, I am really clear on a topic like this from the get-go — and most often that initial gut feeling sticks. Because I have such stellar instincts — and obviously a high opinion of myself ; ) — when I write about something like sexual harassment, I try really hard to shut out any outside noise. To be authentic to my position I try hard to disregard what my friends will think, or what my family will think, or, quite honestly, what any of you will think about what I ultimately say. In other words, I try really hard to convey my feelings honestly.... it’s just too exhausting to do anything else.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I started writing this section and it came off as totally insincere. Mainly because it was totally insincere. I found myself trying to write a little something for everyone, so no one would be mad or disappointed in me.
I was terrified of being seen as a traitor to the #metoo movement, or an inadequate advocate for women, or too hard on men, or a million different other things that people today seem to attach to incendiary and complicated topics. Thank goodness I caught this unusual behavior in time, because it forced me to ask myself: Why? Why — out of all of the difficult topics we face — was this the one that was causing such internal angst.
Let’s unravel this...
At nineteen I started my career in the oil and gas business. Back then, the energy business could have warranted its very own #metoo category. Sure, I came after the good ‘ol days when oil companies had actual field trailers stocked with prostitutes, but still....
Some of my awesome O&G girlfriends and I were talking about this recently, and we tried to figure out which came first: Back then, did the energy business attract women who weren’t easily offended or did the circumstances train us to be virtually un-offendable?
Either way, it is very (very) hard to offend me. In fact, unless you try to defend racism or commit an act of social injustice, you probably aren’t going to be able to pull it off.
Instead of being offended by sexual advances in those early years, I found that a quick upper jab of the knee or gentle slap across the face worked really well as a deterrent. Evidently my approach ultimately worked — and word spread — because after just a few instances, nothing inappropriate ever happened again.*
* I want to be super clear here: The vast majority of the men I have encountered in both my professional and personal life have been nothing but incredibly supportive…the utmost gentlemen.