How #MeToo Hits Home for Tampa Bay Moms

How the #MeToo Movement Hits Home for Tampa Bay Moms

As a resource for Tampa Bay Moms, we at TBMB felt that it was important to address an issue that’s been magnified recently, sexual harassment. While Hollywood has given a voice to the epidemic with the #MeToo movement, #TimesUp campaign and now the #ThatsHarassment initiative, we know that these issues aren’t exclusive to celebrities. We recently brought up the topic to some of our Tampa Bay Moms and wanted to share their thoughts and experiences with our community. We want to empower women to know that they are not alone and we can make a difference to change this culture for our children. Here’s some of their experiences and thoughts. 

Being a mother now, I see things like this in a whole new light. While, before motherhood, I would see how it affects me as an individual and probably be less adamant about it, I now look to my children’s futures. I want things to be better for them. I think that having to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace is something that we will all have to prepare our children for, male and female. However, I want them to feel safe and empowered to report issues. I hope that this movement helps to create a better workplace for them,  filled with respect.

My honest opinion is every woman can probably say #MeToo.  And although this movement is empowering women and girls, I hope it teaches men (young and old) a lesson in appropriate behavior and causes a change. We’ve (society) has got to teach boys how to treat girls! I do think some women desire that type of attention and are OK with it- which makes it harder for the women who don’t want to be objectified. It’s unfortunate that this is even something to address. Just my thoughts…

It wasn’t until the #MeToo movement that I realized we live in a society where interactions with girls/women are looked at as yes, yes, yes until she says no. When it needs to be no, no, no until she says yes. That’s difficult to do as we push so many stigmas on females. We can’t say yes to something because then we look needy or slutty. We aren’t shown to feel empowered by our sexuality or bodies. Its engrained in us at a very young age that women are less than. Less deserving of respect, expression and control of our bodies. When I was in high school I was wearing a D cup. I always wore T-shirts to school because of the dress code. 

No spaghetti straps.  No belly showing.  No cleavage.
 
That last one was the one that always got me. It seemed no matter what shirt I would wear I was exposing cleavage at some point (especially sitting at a desk). Eventually I just always wore a T-shirt and jeans that way my chest wasn’t “distracting” male students from their education. Although, I wore that T-shirt I still was asked about my bra size. Asked whether I stuffed my bra and told to wear white shirts on cold, rainy days. There were a few who were handsy too, snapping the back of my bra and grabbing my boob. All while in a T-shirt that helped them focus on their education. But what about mine?

I was talking to a friend about the #MeToo movement to get their thoughts on it. That’s when she reminded me of something that happened to me 15 years ago. I was working my first job at a grocery store. I was working the customer service counter. A middle aged man asked to purchase lotto and I printed the ticket and I said have a nice day. Then as he was leaving, he said nonchalantly “It’s a good thing you have a pretty face it makes up for your chest.” Then he walked out the door. I was shocked, disgusted and appalled, what would make someone think that’s OK to say to anyone.

I hope what comes from this movement is a change in society. But, I worry you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” After all, historically women have been put in a place “beneath”men. We could not even vote until 1920. Until the 70s and 80s women were typically expected to be the homemakers. (And there is nothing wrong with choosing to do that at all) What I am saying is that the culture was that we were supposed to provide for our men. So it is not really surprising to hear all of these stories have been occurring. Heck, we have a President who is a known misogynist and people are giving him a pass for the way historically he has treated females.

In 2018, we are still fighting the old men in our government for the right to make choices on our bodies. This huge problem in our society trickles down from the top. My hope is that the #MeToo movement begins to change these ideologies and that the next generation is not raised thinking that treating women this way is OK. I also believe it is freeing and empowering to share your experiences and knowledge that you are not alone. I’m glad that many women are now using their fame as a platform to make this a movement. I am glad some are seeing justice.

One time I was at a concert standing up, almost front row. Men behind me groped me and grabbed my butt, which happened to have the pocket my ticket was in. When a security guard (whole other story, but the lady was apparently known for harassing petite girls) asked me for my ticket, I could not find it. (it was on the floor) I was dragged out of the area and into the security office where they were planning on banning me from the arena for life. Fortunately, my friend found my ticket on the floor.

In retrospect, I should have sued the crap out of them. But I was 19 and just wanted to finish watching the show. I can think of countless times I was walking along the main road in my neighborhood to get to the local shopping center and having men shout at me. And I was always small chested- and got picked on for having small boobs…#MeToo has made me look back and think of how BIG all these small instances that we as women deal with, tuck away in our memories actually are…

I was 8 month pregnant at a gator game walking my 3 year old to the bathroom. It was crowded. Suddenly, I felt a hand on my booty. I thought it was my husband catching up to me. It was not. Just some random guy grabbing my booty. 

In middle school, I was going to put my tray up and one of the guys in detention walked by me and groped me. I get why kids are embarrassed to tell someone because back then I was!

When I started dating, one of the first guys I went out with grabbed my hand and put it on his crotch. I moved it. He moved it back. Luckily, I was in a spot where I could get out and leave (and I did because I wasn’t ready for that). We never went out again and I assume it’s because I wouldn’t put out. I think lots girls have sex before they are ready because of situations like that. But… That might be a whole other topic!

Growing up, in middle and high school, I had no idea that when a guy grabbed my ass or said something vulgar that I had a right to tell them no. I understood things beyond that were up to me but I just thought it was “flirting”. I look back now and am starting to understand why I hated school sometimes. I’m so glad it’s being brought to light so now I can explore and understand my rights and someday tell my daughter AND son what’s right and wrong.

I’m a boy mom, and trying to teach him to be respectful to everyone. He’s only 7 so it’s too soon to get overly detailed about sexual things, but I do want him to understand things like boundaries and that if someone asks you to stop doing something, you stop. Personally, I’ve had lots of experiences of varying degrees. I’m “full-figured” and have been ogled for that since middle school.

I went to a job interview. When I arrived they said they just filled the position with the woman before me. But the guy doing the interview saw me and said maybe they could hire me for another position. I had dressed up (business attire) for the interview. The interviewer called me into his office while going over my resume.

He wanted me at the front desk for all the guys to see and to dress up everyday. He wanted me to come to a business meeting with him to take notes…. And occasionally, he would lend me his truck to go pick up his dry-cleaning to drop it off at his house. He explained he was going through a divorce and needed a personal assistant to help him with a few odd jobs. Also, he said he would buy my lunches everyday on top of my pay. He even asked me to stand up and turn around for him so he could see outfit and approved it.

I felt uncomfortable and uneasy. Being a young naive newlywed, I desperately wanted to move out of our in-laws house. So as uncomfortable as I was, I took the job. I told my husband all about the interview but decided I would just go on Monday and see… I knew I wasn’t thrilled about the new position. There was no “job”. They said to sit at the front desk and “look pretty.” To make things worse the other lady they hired got to wear jeans and t-shirts and got her own office. I cried every night because I dreaded being put on display but I didn’t think I could quit. (We were living with my in-laws who insisted I have a job and I was unfamiliar with the area and what my options were). Luckily, the guy that interviewed me never came in.

After two days there, I did have to go to business meetings with another man and he just handed me a note pad and he told me “just look pretty for all their business partners and pretend you are taking notes.” They all stared. I hated it. I dreaded going to work and feared seeing the man that interviewed me and what he would ask me to do.

My husband and I had already decided I would not drive his truck or run his errands but I didn’t want to have to confront him. I made it through the first week. That Friday, I went to a football game. A family friend  found me. He asked me if I had found a job yet because he had a position in his doctor’s office for me if I wanted it! I took it on the spot. On Monday morning I walked in to the job I hated because I thought I had to give a two week notice. I told them I accepted another job.

I never saw the guy that interviewed me. He never came into the office. The guy working that day, told me I didn’t have to come the rest of the week. So I left and never looked back! I loved the job at the doctor office. I’m wondering how many girls have a job like this? Do they feel like they can’t quit and have no other options?

These are just a few stories of some of our Tampa Bay Moms. Unfortunately, we are sure there are thousands more. We want our Tampa Bay Moms to know they are not alone and we support you. Lets work together to bring these issues to light and change the future for our children. 

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