In a previous post we were discussing confidence crushers.
I once directed a gallery in a beautiful building. The super of this building seemed nice and accommodating at first. You need a mail slot? You got one. Yes, we will build a wall there, no problem.
Then one day as I was painting the walls, he made a comment on my “painting outfit.” I sluffed it off, just like I was trained to do. Then another day he came up and tried to touch whatever I was wearing and I flinched away. Sort of a natural reaction at this point.
The opening of the gallery had gone so well, a true success. Still, the next day, when I had to arrange a phone line, I had to ask this super when he might be there in the building, as Qwest had dealt with him many times before.
"Yes, you should be there at some point. Sitting in a certain position. I could put you in the right position -- maybe we can try a few out."
You can be the Director of an establishment and still be treated like a whore. It would get to the point that he rarely looked into my eyes, but elsewhere.
Mind, then there would be a time when he would briskly breeze into the gallery and talk only business, just the facts - and so the sexual remarks, coming at another time and sometimes out of nowhere, can take you unaware. Being nice didn't help. Or being just plain businesslike. Ignoring didn't help - red lights look oddly green to those who want to see it that way.
These kinds of things can take a big bite out of confidence, and a sense of real victory. It is very difficult to feel like you are truly moving forward, even when you know how good the game is going. I actually ended up crying one night about it .... someone reading this now may think that it’s no big deal... but it wasn’t the first time. It was too much like being a peon salesgirl in New York City, powerless save for the beauty people were happy to interpret as the best and speediest currency.
- But I was now nearly 50 and running the show. I didn’t really have the time to personally bring this man into the 20th century, but that is just what I had to do. The main reason I am thinking about this now is the current fallout with Elliot Spitzer and how the adage was quoted: “the most powerful people in the world are old white men and beautiful young women.” For me, it took time and distance. Not only am I no longer at that job, but neither is he.