Being a female in the military is hanging up the phone, then pausing to reflect on what was just said to you by a professional colleague – one who outranks you:
“I would love to whisper bad things in your ear right now,” made perfect sense (swearing at me) when I didn’t get him the information he wanted.
My reply of, “well that’s not very nice Sir, I did my best”, made sense to me when I didn’t realize the context of his sentence.
He ended the thought with, “oh, not in a mean way”, and that’s when I got it.
“Okay. Um. Well. Have a great day Sir, good luck getting that info”. I hastily hung up as he said, “okay now Sg-“.
What was he thinking?
Why would anyone at any time decide that that is an appropriate way to speak to a subordinate? Or to ANYONE?
He doesn’t even work in my section. We barely have a working relationship. Definitely not a friendly one where we tease and jab.
Most of all, why is this still shocking? Why does it take me so much time, still, to understand when yet another male is being disgusting towards me? Why do I still give most everyone the benefit of the doubt, especially when they’re in a leadership position?
I see the stats on sexual assault and misconduct in the military. Hell, I am part of those statistics. So why do I ever still trust in basic human decency?
Why am I second guessing MY words? Looking back at what is on this page; could it be misconstrued as me flirting with him if I say a word to anyone?
“Well that’s not very nice Sir”.
Who speaks like this if they’re not trying to be flirty?
It wouldn’t be nice for him to swear at me when I got him all of the information I could, but was stopped short by my improper security clearance. I would rather he swore at me instead of speaking to me like I was some sort of thing. A little plaything to be toyed with. Speak however you want to them, they’re just dolls. No voices to speak up, limbs frozen in fear. Don’t worry, you’re safe because there’s nothing we can do.
The US Military has a really wonderful Sexual Misconduct unit that is all about helping people who are in the situation I am in at this very moment. I spoke with them about a year after an assault, when he showed up at my new base.
Put a file on that one, please, and keep him the hell away from me.
Not much they can do to keep him away without a public file, but at least it’s there for me to publish at any point in time. Filed a year after, because I could no longer forget he existed when I walked into a room and he was sat there, waiting. Not waiting for me. Waiting for his chance to pee in a cup. But still, waiting.
Back to those wonderful personnel, who are always here to help.They’ll never blame you. Tell you you’re crazy. Tell you it’s not a big deal. They give you forms to fill out, help you write down the facts. Even when you’re crying so hard you can’t remember your social security number and mix it up with your cell phone number, they’re just there for you. The victim.
But that’s the thing.
I went. I cried. I filled out paperwork and gave them his name, rank, and unit. They set me up with counseling (where I went two whole times to speak to a counselor who only wanted me to see how, “this is all part of God’s plan”) and let me know that I could contact them directly if I wanted to. If I didn’t feel safe. If I needed to talk. If I needed a friend.
I do feel safe. I do have friends. I don’t need to talk – not to them. I need to speak to people who I already know and love. People who won’t treat me like a victim. I don’t want to be a victim.
So why write all of this down, if I don’t want to be seen as someone who was duped?
The man on the phone today even told me, “You seem too gullible to be from New York”. Was that his “in”?
I don’t want to feel helpless and passive in the face of those who wronged me. I am not voiceless, and my limbs are not frozen in terror. I am not a victim in those ways. I am a victim in the simplest way. I was wronged. I have been wronged. Many, many times in my life, and mostly by fellow military members. Is it this bad for my civilian counterparts? It may be. It may be worse. I don’t know because I don’t have their experiences – I only have mine.
I don’t know how to end this little…rant? We’ll call it a rant.
Lin Manual Miranda said in one of his good morning tweets recently, “welcome the struggles that sharpen your senses”. My senses are sharpened. Never again will I hang up in shock.