The recent light that’s been cast on sexual harassment is a call for women to support one another on the basis of a shared experience — albeit a degrading, isolating, and damaging experience. No matter our education, socioeconomic status or upbringing, the threat of sexual harassment can strike any woman in the workplace. This injustice can range from the continued unwelcome comments and catcalling to physical sexual assault and rape, but any form of sexual harassment strives to potentially rob a woman of her confidence and dignity.
Sisterhood is a concept that many women grapple with, sadly. But in today's #MeToo Movement, here is where sisterhood and the battle against sexual harassment must intersect. Following my own experience of sexual harassment, I learned a co-worker had endured a similar despicable form of harassment but didn’t report the offender. I was terrified, and documented my own incident to report following our employer’s protocol. I felt obligated to keep the man from doing to other young women what he had done to me. I asked around and found out that the man had a history of such behavior, yet it was never reported. My disbelief grew as I heard more and more vile stories from the women he left in his wake in conjunction to claims that he was a wonderful husband and father. At the time, I was young and was having a hard time reconciling the contradiction I was faced with.
As I lived and later worked through feelings of shame, guilt, objectification, and worthlessness, I began to question why my female co-workers didn't say anything. The one co-worker I did approach, I asked her if the man had acted or spoken inappropriately to her and she confirmed that he did. At first, I was disappointed, and then I was mad at her. What if she could have stopped this from happening by simply saying something? Isn't she obligated to subdue a predator on behalf of the women that will join the company after her? Or is she too afraid to say anything because he is so highly regarded in the community? Did she report him, but nothing was done about it? I didn’t know her rationale, but I felt let down, abandoned, by a sister.
But with age and experience comes understanding. It occurred to me that maybe I was meant to be their voice when they couldn’t speak. After all, isn’t that what sisterhood is all about? To be by your sister’s side through the good and bad. To pick her up when she doesn’t have the strength or courage to do so. To stay beside her, keep her company and always protect her until she’s ready to come out of the darkness.
I am saddened that so many of my sisters have had to secretly endure so much, for so long. I am further saddened when sisters seek to qualify another woman’s abuse, or don’t believe her assault happened because the man would never do such a thing. But that’s what the sisterhood is here for. Sisterhood empowers and heals. We’re here to be their strength until they gather theirs. We’re here to be their voices until they find their words. We’re here to defend them when so many attack them. We’re here to be their sisters, unconditionally, because there’s nothing like having your sisters behind you when you feel alone in the world.
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