Violence at work

allie shep
Posted October 15, 2016 from United Kingdom

My experience of "work" is legal and office jobs in the UK and New Zealand, and a smattering of teaching English in a small town in Thailand.

So I don't pretend to know - other than through clients - how women suffer doing manual and 'housekeeping' work throughout the world.

What I do know is that violence against us can strike absolutely anywhere,

I consider myself to have been very fortunate in my upbringing - well-educated, talkative, "upfront" in my comments, enough money to live in London - and I will not (I hope) take any nonsense from men.

However, I was once the victim of one case of discrimination (and very minor violence) at work, and I have witnessed other women being treated like third class employees because they refused to do what their male bosses or colleagues wanted.

We all know the horror stories, but it never fails to amaze me what men THINK they can get away with and, sometimes, what they actually CAN get away with.

Unless we all pull together, our lives and those of our billions of sisters will always be based on fear. I am not suggesting that I personally live in fear 24/7, but we all do sometimes - it's part of being a woman.

Which it shouldn't be of course.

We are worried about harassment and potential violence because, physically, men have the upper hand.

If our employers threatened - and actually prosecuted - men who overstep obvious boundaries , there would be less fear on our plates and more, justifiably, on theirs.

And those boundariesARE obvious.

I must finish with this story from New Zealand. I think it shows how women can overcome violenceat home and work through laughter and - finally - success.

I was privileged to work briefly with a Maori girl who told me storiesabout 'the land of the long white cloud' (New Zealand). But she also told me horror stories of her hardships at home. She had 2 brothers - one older, one younger than her - and she'd been taughtby her mother from the age of 3 to look after them, and do and fetch everything for them that they wanted or needed.

In a moment of brightness in her eyes, shetold me that the only compensation for her and her best friend was that they were'responsible' for bathing and toileting the boys.

I said that wasn't compensation, that was just another way in which we are made to raise boys to become more powerful than us.

But I'd missed her point apparently. She'd had such a hard life raising her brothers that seeing them naked was 'worth it' - and it was so nice to see her erupt into gales of laughter that I temporarily forgot her exploitation.

But there's a silver lining to this tale - I learned recently that these 2 young women had gone into partnership and were running a small campsite for women and children.

And there were NO reports of violence in their workplace.

Comments 2

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Oct 15, 2016
Oct 15, 2016

I really enjoyed your writing. I completely agree with the fact that the idea of men being superior is still being thought out and is still an issue. It is something that is needed to change. While some choose to ignore it, there are still many women who feel like it's okay for men to be above them which is not right. I really like how you included the girl as an example of someone who has been taught their purpose is to take care of men. You're writing was great and made great points!

allie shep
Oct 17, 2016
Oct 17, 2016

Thank you, Amanda, for your kind comments. I'm particularly pleased you mentioned the Maori girl, as I wasn't sure how much to say about her. She was bitter but she sparkled when she remembered bathing and toileting her brothers, and it seemed such an important part of her younger years that I had to mention it. She and her cousin had helped overcome their feeling of being used by her parents by laughing at the naked boys (and I'm sure we can all relate to that).

Yes I agree, there is STILL an annoying trend among some girls that they are happy (or at least expecting) to be thought inferior. I think it's fuelled by the world promoting men as #1 in charge and us as their sidekicks. The biggest worry is that men will capitalize on this to ensure that we stay that way.

Again, thanks for your comments. Please feel free to comment on and criticize my other pieces (I'm sure you're familiar with the "read more from this author" button). I'd be more than happy to read anything you've written.

Allie x