HERdacious

Queen of Courage

November 30, 2020 HERdacity Season 1 Episode 39
HERdacious
Queen of Courage
Chapters
4:32
What is harassment?
7:05
Leadership response
11:27
Fear of retaliation
13:16
From bystander to "Upstander"
16:43
Being targeted
21:15
Coping strategies
25:14
You just got served!
28:10
Femme fact: Suffragette White
HERdacious
Queen of Courage
Nov 30, 2020 Season 1 Episode 39
HERdacity

Responding to Workplace Harassment

In this episode, herdacious host Lorelei chats with Amy Averett about how we can respond to workplace harassment. As the head of the SAFE Institute, Amy brings her leadership expertise to guide us through a variety of responses when witnessing harassment of others and for ourselves. With the conversation ranging from distinguishing the difference between harassment and misconduct to developing an interruptive, managerial response, Amy emphasizes the unique responsibility each of us holds responding to harassment. Together, we can support our co-workers and protect ourselves, ensuring that we all feel valued, secure in our workplaces, and most of all, safe.

Host: Lorelei Gonzalez
Co-host: Amy Averett

In her current role as director of SAFE Institute, Amy leads a team of trainers and consultants to provide harassment prevention support to companies in Central Texas and beyond. From working at the Alamo Drafthouse to starting her own nonprofit, Amy's experience allows her to successfully lead the SAFE Institute and manage the revenue generated by SAFE's work to support services for people experiencing sexual and domestic violence. Amy founded her own nonprofit organization, Austin Voices for Education and Youth, where she aimed to engage stakeholders in improving public schools and supporting healthy youth development. When Amy isn’t offering a helping hand, she is an avid practitioner in the wonderful world of improv!

Things you will learn in this episode (chapter markers available):  

  • What is harassment? 4:32
  • Leadership response 7:05
  • Fear of retaliation 11:27
  • From bystander to "Upstander" 13:16
  • Being targeted 16:43
  • Coping strategies 21:15
  • You just got served! 25:14
  • Femme fact: Suffragette White 28:10

Resources mentioned in this episode:  

Link to show transcript here

Episode sponsors:  

Looking for additional resources on this topic? Check out our blog post “HER Side: Toxic Work Spaces”

Loved what you heard on herdacious and want to share with friends? Tag us and connect with HERdacity on social media:
Twitter: @herdacity
Facebook: @HERdacity
Instagram: @herdacity
LinkedIn: HERdacity
Email: [email protected](dot)org

For up to date information on HERdacity events, webinars, podcasts, and community activities, join our newsletter here.



Disclaimer: While we appreciate our sponsors' support in making this show possible, herdacious content is curated with integrity and honesty.

Support the show (http://herdacity.org/donate/)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Responding to Workplace Harassment

In this episode, herdacious host Lorelei chats with Amy Averett about how we can respond to workplace harassment. As the head of the SAFE Institute, Amy brings her leadership expertise to guide us through a variety of responses when witnessing harassment of others and for ourselves. With the conversation ranging from distinguishing the difference between harassment and misconduct to developing an interruptive, managerial response, Amy emphasizes the unique responsibility each of us holds responding to harassment. Together, we can support our co-workers and protect ourselves, ensuring that we all feel valued, secure in our workplaces, and most of all, safe.

Host: Lorelei Gonzalez
Co-host: Amy Averett

In her current role as director of SAFE Institute, Amy leads a team of trainers and consultants to provide harassment prevention support to companies in Central Texas and beyond. From working at the Alamo Drafthouse to starting her own nonprofit, Amy's experience allows her to successfully lead the SAFE Institute and manage the revenue generated by SAFE's work to support services for people experiencing sexual and domestic violence. Amy founded her own nonprofit organization, Austin Voices for Education and Youth, where she aimed to engage stakeholders in improving public schools and supporting healthy youth development. When Amy isn’t offering a helping hand, she is an avid practitioner in the wonderful world of improv!

Things you will learn in this episode (chapter markers available):  

  • What is harassment? 4:32
  • Leadership response 7:05
  • Fear of retaliation 11:27
  • From bystander to "Upstander" 13:16
  • Being targeted 16:43
  • Coping strategies 21:15
  • You just got served! 25:14
  • Femme fact: Suffragette White 28:10

Resources mentioned in this episode:  

Link to show transcript here

Episode sponsors:  

Looking for additional resources on this topic? Check out our blog post “HER Side: Toxic Work Spaces”

Loved what you heard on herdacious and want to share with friends? Tag us and connect with HERdacity on social media:
Twitter: @herdacity
Facebook: @HERdacity
Instagram: @herdacity
LinkedIn: HERdacity
Email: [email protected](dot)org

For up to date information on HERdacity events, webinars, podcasts, and community activities, join our newsletter here.



Disclaimer: While we appreciate our sponsors' support in making this show possible, herdacious content is curated with integrity and honesty.

Support the show (http://herdacity.org/donate/)

Sponsor

Today's episode is brought to you by HERdacity. HERdacity is a non-profit inspiring confidence in women to achieve their professional goals. For resources, networking opportunities, and a strong community of women, visit herdacity.org to learn more.

 

Lorelei

Welcome to HERdacious, a podcast for audacious women. Welcome, welcome to you all to HERdacious in the fall. I'm Lorelei, the host of HERdacius, where we discuss women's career journeys and support. Today we're gonna be talking about how to respond to workplace harassment. And to help me in this conversation, I have former culture and community director of the Alamo Drafthouse, a non-profit industry professional, and the current leader of the SAFE Institute, as well as an avid improver Ms. Amy Averett. 

 

Amy

Hello, Lorelei. It’s good to be here with you. Thanks so much. 

 

Lorelei

It is my pleasure, I'm really happy to have a professional join me in this conversation today, 'cause this one... Wow, what do I say? “Hey fam, we're gonna be talking about harassment,” so that... This is gonna be cool. So the first question I really have to ask you is, what got you started in the realm of workplace culture improvement? 

 

Amy

That's a great question. My education is in non-profit management and community organizing and social work, but I've had a number of career paths, and to be honest, when I was at Alamo Drafthouse, before I started doing this work, I was hosting children's parties and doing all kinds of fun programming stuff. And then really in 2017, at the beginning of the Me Too movement, Alamo Drafthouse got called out for some past bad behavior and bad decisions, and I stepped up to lead the turn around. And it's a question I asked myself every day, and sometimes I definitely think “Man, I really wish I could get my princess costume back and just host some children's parties.” But it's so important to me because I realized that it’s such a huge difference for people, if they're just able to go to work and do their jobs versus if they're having to deal with ongoing trauma, the stress, I've just seen the impact that it can have, and I want it to be better.

 

Lorelei

I love that, and I'm really grateful for folks like you in the industry trying to help improve workplace cultures, it's really, really important. So what are some of the lessons that you've learned along this really interesting journey?

 

Amy

What lessons have I not learned? But I have learned a lot that harassment takes a lot of different forms, and even in this time when we're working remotely and people aren't even face-to-face as much as they used to be, it still finds a way. And it's about power dynamics. Just like a lot of different kinds of violence are. And I think one of the things that I've learned the most and really come to recognize is that even if you're not the person that's being harassed, it can affect the whole work place, it can affect the whole company, and it can be expensive for the company and it can also be really, really hard for employees to be excited and to be glad to be able to come to work for you if this kind of stuff is going on and it's not being addressed. And I've also just learned that there are so many grey areas, there's so many circumstances that it is gonna be one person's word against the other, you're not gonna have perfect information to make a perfect decision, but you don't have to be the judge and jury, you just have to solve the problem so that people have a safe place to work and they can get on with their day.

 

The other thing that I would say is that, to be honest, alcohol is a huge problem. Things happen when co-workers are socializing outside of work, things happen when they're used to going out and getting drinks together. That's when the lines start to blur. It's like a lot of other kinds of dating violence, it’s a bummer, but it's true.

 

Lorelei

Are you saying we can't go out and have beverages with our colleagues?

 

Amy

You can absolutely go out and have beverages with your colleagues, but if you're a manager, I would suggest that you'd be the last one to get there and the first one to leave. Have your one drink and then head home, you gotta know where your lines are, and you don't wanna put yourself in a position where you can ever be accused of something.

 

Lorelei

Well. I'm gonna put you in a nitty-gritty position, define workplace harassment and misconduct for us, and if you wouldn't mind share some examples to highlight the differences.

 

Amy

Absolutely, so I think that there's a couple of things that really are the key parts of what makes something harassment versus just annoying. One of the things is that there is a power differential between the two people that are having the interaction, that's a very common part of harassment, the other part of it is that it creates a hostile work environment. So again, you may not be the person who is having the direct conversation with somebody, you may be over-hearing two other co-workers having a lewd conversation or showing images on their phone, but that creates a hostile work environment for you. The biggest thing though, is that it's behavior that's unwelcome, and that there's not consent for the behavior. So, a co-worker asking someone else out on a date is not harassment. A co-worker asking someone out on a date after the other person has said no, and has clearly said no, and the behavior continues and they won't let it go. It moves from being annoying behavior or frustrating behavior into harassment when there's a couple of things in play. The first thing is that it interferes with your ability to do your job or to do your work.

 

So if you are in an environment where the jokes are coming fast and furious, the inappropriate comments, and it really disrupts you being able to carry out your job functions, that's harassment. The other big thing that we look at is whether it's unwanted, so asking your super hot co-worker out on a date is not harassment, but continuing to ask them out on a date after they've said no, clearly. And you just keep going and going and won't let it go. That's when it becomes harassment. It also could be harassment if there's a power differential, so that if it's a manager and it's somebody that is in their chain of command, you're not able to give full and enthusiastic consent because they feel the pressure, they don't feel free to say no, because you have power over them, those are the biggest things. And the last thing I would say about what makes it harassment is that it's about the impact, it's about the person who is receiving the behavior regardless of what the person's intent was. So again, if you're somebody you're just having fun, you're the fun one at work, and you're joking and you're making comments, but you don't mean anything by it, that doesn't even matter, it matters how it's landing for the person who's receiving it.

 

Lorelei

If you're a leader in an organization, what do you do when someone comes to you concerning harassment that they have experienced in the workplace?

 

Amy

Well, first thing I would say, and especially for your listeners, is that it's very common for, I think for female managers to be the first point of contact when somebody is experiencing an issue and they're trying to figure out how to deal with it. When I train companies, I look a lot of the male managers right in the eye and say, “This is your job too,” and when I do that, a lot of times the female managers are the background nodding their heads, 'cause it's emotional labor and frankly, it can be really stressful and it can be really exhausting. So, I would encourage you to encourage your male co-workers to step up and do the right thing as well and be prepared when someone comes to you. That's my soap box. The first thing that I would say is that the most important thing you can do with anybody who's experienced a trauma is to just start from a place of empathy, and again, when they first come to you, you don't have to be the judge and jury, you don't have to decide what's the true and right thing that has happened here at this person's version of the events is the correct version, you just have to respond with empathy, so it's phrases like, “I am so sorry that happened to you.”

 

“That sounds really stressful. I can understand why you're upset, I would be upset if that happened to me.” “Oh my gosh, I wanna help you however I can.” And so just starting from a place of believing, it's not always women who are gonna come to you, but believing the person that they have experienced something that is traumatic to them, and it's not really your place to say yet, whether it's actually a traumatic experience or not. The other thing I would say is to be honest about the extent to which you can protect their confidentiality, if you're a manager in a company, you may not be able to say like, “Oh, I'm not gonna tell anybody about this, of course, your secret is safe with me,” because you do have some responsibility and so you don't wanna promise things that you can't deliver on. The other piece that I think is incredibly important is that you find out from them how they want to handle it and how they want to proceed, because they have choices in this, and the more you can put the agency back with them, the faster they're gonna be able to heal and they're gonna be able to get back their own power and their own control over the situation.

 

Now, I'm not saying that you say, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” And then just sit there and look at them. But what you wanna do is to say like, “We have some options here.” Like, “I can go with you to talk with HR. Do you wanna think about this a little bit before you decide how you wanna proceed? Let me get some information together for you so that we can make some decisions, let's get you talking with somebody with EAP, they can help you think through how you wanna proceed,” but you wanna get a sense of what they wanna have happen here, and it's so important because you don't wanna overreact and you don't wanna under-react and to be honest, there's a good chance that the person is still kind of in shock about what happened. You know it may have happened with somebody that they have known and trusted and worked with for years and years and years, they can't believe this person just went there and they are really, really rattled, so understanding that how they think they might wanna proceed at that moment may not be ultimately what they decide to do in the long term.

 

So just kind of giving a pause and giving some space to think. And the last thing I would say is absolutely to document that you're gonna wanna take your own notes based on what they're telling you, but especially to encourage them to document if they've got text on phone, if they've got images, if they've got emails, anything like that, go ahead and save them, you may decide that you don't wanna move forward with anything, but at least if you do, you've got the information collected.

 

Lorelei

Excellent. Now, I wanna clarify one of your points you talked about asking the co-worker or the person, one of your direct reports, how they would like to proceed. So that to me, indicates that as the manager, the leader, they need to be knowledgeable of the processes that their organization has in regard to responding to workplace harassment. I can envision situations where managers have seen multiple employees come forward with misconduct claims and they're not willing to proceed forward as far as going to HR making a formal complaint, that sort of thing. I imagine managers can find themselves in weird situations where they want to encourage a co-worker to go forward and file a formal complaint. What do you suggest for our audience to do in the situation like that?

 

Amy

It's difficult, and I've been in that situation, and in my role, I so want people to come forward so that we can stop the behavior, that we can solve the problem, that we can get the jack ass out of the company, but understanding that there's a real fear of people don't come forward because there's a fear of retaliation, of losing their job, of losing their reputation, those are real and valid concerns. And so I really try to respect it as much as possible while gently encouraging them to move forward, but you also, as a manager, you do have a responsibility and you do have some liability if you don't act

 

Lorelei

Right, it's like you could possibly be liable for allowing some sort of predatory behavior to continue to occur if you keep getting the pattern, right?

 

Amy

Yeah. And when it gets blasted out on social media or in the press or whatever, it's not gonna be you saying “No, I was really respecting the wishes of the people who came forward, that's not gonna come through. What's gonna come through is that the company knew this was happening and they didn't act, so you have to be pretty honest and you have to say, “I understand and I'm gonna respect your confidentiality, are you an anonymity as much as possible, but I do have a responsibility to report this and for us to take action because it's possible that it is happening to other people.” At that point, you honestly do have to get your HR team involved and have the conversation with them to say, “Hey, this has been reported to me, they wanna stay as confidential as possible, what can we do to protect that?” And also to again, to be upfront with the person who's come to you, that you do have to take some action, and I think a lot of times that's a relief, they're coming to you because they want it to stop and they don't want it to happen to other people, but it's scary.

 

Lorelei

What can you do as a co-worker if you observe workplace harassment or misconduct occurring?

 

Amy

To be honest, I think in some ways, this is the most powerful position to be in because you can interrupt, but you can often interrupt it in a way where you're still keeping yourself safe and you have to start from that place. You don't wanna put yourself in a position where you're gonna receive retaliation or you feel like you're putting yourself at risk, but there's so many different ways to redirect a situation. So speaking up, does it mean you have to throw your body in front of the other person and take whatever shit is coming their way, but it's that you jump in and you distract the person by changing the conversation, you change the dynamic by just standing there and being present so that it's not just happening one to one. I think that works really well. If you're in a kind of a dire situation, you work at a restaurant, that kind of thing is just having the presence of another person, sometimes we'll interrupt the behavior, or you can use my favorite phrase, which is... Knock it off. He doesn’t like that. She doesn't like that. What are you doing? No, knock it off.

 

Love the phrase, knock it off. Just again, to interrupt it, and I would encourage you that in that situation too, to check in with the person who's being targeted, maybe it's not in that exact moment, but maybe it's afterwards to say like, Hey, that seemed really out of line to me. Are you okay, do you need help in some way? Or do you want me to say something? Or do you want me to go with you to say something? So there's kind of interrupting the behavior, right. As it's happening, and then it's thinking with that person who's been targeted and how you can proceed from there. The way that we train that at the SAFE Institute, as we talk about going from being a bystander to being an upstander and just standing up for that person who's in that uncomfortable situation.

 

Lorelei

An upstander? Oh, I love that. That's so good. What about if you were a manager and you observe this occurring, 'cause you're in a position of power.

 

Amy

In that case, you're gonna be able to act more directly, and I would recommend interrupting the behavior immediately, interrupting it directly, separating the two so that they don't have any further contact and then starting your follow-up from there. From the place of empathy, listening, and then documenting. 

 

Lorelei

Wonderful. 

 

Amy

But definitely, I think the safety assessment is a really important part of it because you don't wanna escalate the situation. Sometimes this is also happening between a customer and a staff member and things like that, and you just wanna be mindful of personal safety for yourself and for your employee and for the guest. 

 

Lorelei

Excellent, excellent point. Thank you for bringing it to our tension, and I am going to interrupt this conversation for a brief sponsor break.

 

Sponsor

Hi, Barbie here from Moonray, husband and wife indie-pop duo. If you enjoy the intro music, we invite you to listen to our debut EP Honeymoon. Streaming now on all platforms. Visit www.moonray-music.com for more.

 

Lorelei

And we're back talking with Amy Averett about workplace harassment and how to handle it. So previously we were talking about different points of power and position and handling workplace harassment, how to intercede and be an up-stander. I wanna talk now about what do you do when it happens to you.

 

Amy

Yes, you have a little sound effect that you could go womp womp.

 

Lorelei

Yeah, probably. 

 

(insert womp womp) 

 

Amy

Yeah. When it's happening to you. It sucks, and there's no way around that. I would start from a place of just saying that don't underestimate the impact that it's gonna have on you, because in my experience, it's one of those things that kind of keeps coming back, and even if you don't realize that it's stressing you out, are you feeling the trauma, it finds its way out. So when it happens to you in the moment, think about how you can respond, that is going to interrupt it and set that clear boundary that establishes that this is unwanted behavior, and I think if you're a woman listening to this, we've had a lot of conditioning about being polite and being nice and not making a fuss and those of things, and so you've gotta come up with your own strategies that you feel comfortable or feel true to you, some people are more comfortable with a non-verbal like stepping away, laughing, shaking your head, other people are more comfortable with a direct verbal stop to it, like, No, I'm not interested.

 

Lorelei

The knock it off. 

 

Amy

Exactly. I would encourage you to be as absolutely clear as possible with setting the boundary. It's gonna feel more comfortable to be a little more vague, but you need to be as clear as possible to set the boundary, and if possible to follow up with some kind of documentation, even if it's just a little short email or a text to say, Hey, I'm not interested. Please don't ask me about that again, I just wanna keep the relationship professional or whatever it is, so that you can have that documentation that you said No. There's a really cool app that we encourage people to use, which is called talktospotcom, which will time stamp documentation that you do, and you can just do it very easily on your phone.

 

Lorelei

Nice, we'll be sure to link that in our show notes.

 

Amy

Awesome, the next thing I would say is that, just like with your employees, it's your choice, how much you wanna disclose, when you wanna disclose, etcetera, and it's not unusual to wanna go back and forth about that a little bit before you make a final decision about moving forward. You may wanna talk with co-workers or you may wanna talk with friends outside of work, and a lot of times people are gonna feel really frustrated or really angry or very self-righteous on your behalf. That doesn't mean that you have to take a particular course of action. You've got a lot of different things to weigh and whatever you decide to do, you deserve to be supported in that. If you do choose to disclose, again, I would gather up as much documentation as possible, think about who a friend or ally could be who could go with you to talk to HR or to talk to your manager. 

 

Lorelei

Is this emotional support or a witness? 

 

Amy

I think it can be either or both. Again, if there's somebody that you talk to right after the incident happened, taking them with you so that they can verify that yes, right after the company party, to talk to me about this and how this really uncomfortable situation happened. But it could also be somebody who's just there as your ally or support your work friend, or it could be somebody outside of work. I highly encourage anybody who experiences this to seek support, and that could be through your EAP, which would be confidential and would not be reported back to your employer, it could be through a personal counselor, or it could be calling a safe line like we have it SAFE or through RAINN, where you have a trained council who can help you think through all of your different options. Lastly, just give yourself permission to change your mind, This is gonna be a challenging thing to work through the guidance, get outside support, but ultimately whatever you decide to do. Do what's right for you.

 

Lorelei

Alright, in the process of this season of pernicious, I have interviewed a lot of incredible women, a lot of powerful women, a lot of women in a lot of unique situations in their workplaces, and it has happened numerous times where they have disclosed that they have been harassed at work. And the most common response I heard was, “I didn't know what to do in the moment.” Do you have any advice for us and not about after it happens, but about when it's happening in the moment, because I imagine a lot of us can go into the fight, flight or freeze, or just full on rage, whatever it is. Like, what do we do in the moment? Give us some strategies to deal with this completely unwanted situation.

 

Amy

First of all, you have to let go of having the perfect response in that situation. You didn't expect this to happen. This is probably coming out of the blue, there may be a power differential, there may be something that completely shocks you that you weren't expecting at all, so don't beat yourself up if you don't know the exact right response in the moment. It's really freaking uncomfortable and awkward. And there's no perfect response, what I would say is that, I think go with the instincts that you probably already have, which is that you wanna assess your safety in the situation, what can you do to get yourself out of the situation safely without escalating it. So it may be that you have to laugh and joke and go along with it for a little while before you can remove yourself from the situation. That's okay. You're taking care of yourself. I would really encourage you to set again, the clearest boundary that you possibly can, whether that's verbal, non-verbal, but just to say, I don't want this, I am not interested in this. This is not okay, we are colleagues, we work together. That is all I'm interested in here.

 

Lorelei

Stop, knock it off.

 

Amy

Stop, knock it off. The third thing I would say is what I've said before, which is to go ahead and document it, it doesn't mean that you have to move forward, it doesn't mean that you know exactly what you wanna do afterwards, but just documented or save the text. Save the dick pic, whatever it is that you have that sort of proves your side of the story, go ahead and save that. But more than anything else, I would just say be gentle with yourself. You didn't do anything to deserve this. You are gonna make the best of a really shitty situation, and that's kind of all you can do.

 

Lorelei

Well in the effort to make the best of shitty situation, how do we start the recovery process, how do we recover in our workspace after a violation of our person, or our professional selves has occurred.

 

Amy

First of all, find your allies, find the folks at your office or your friend that you can call so that when you are feeling uncomfortable or you do feel that anxiety coming up, but you just have somebody that you can talk to go to the bathroom to get yourself together, have a quick conversation and then be able to go back to work, but you do wanna keep yourself safe and you wanna keep it from getting worse. I encourage you to consider asking for assignment changes or shift changes or team changes, so that you don't have to have further contact with this person, and if you're communicating this with HR and with your managers, if they're handling it in a professional way, they want the problem to stop too. And they're gonna be willing to look at where they can make changes so that there's no further contact between you and this person. I would strongly encourage you to seek counseling and support again, it's easy to laugh it off and dismiss it and say, “Oh, it was just one of those things, but that's just how it is in our industry or our company,” but no, it's not how it is, and it's not okay, and it's really upsetting when it happens, especially if it's somebody that you trust, just don't underestimate the impact that it's gonna have on you and give yourself some support. And then finally, I would suggest that you ask for some official boundaries or that you said this yourself so it might be, again, that you decide, you know, I'm not going to social functions that are work-related, if I know this person is gonna be there, and you let your boss know that that's not something that you're not gonna be there. You think about the ways that you can be successful in your job and do what you need to do without putting yourself in an uncomfortable place, or it could be that I'm not willing to travel with this person, or I don't want this person on my team, or it may be, again, that you work with your manager, your HR team to set those boundaries, or you may just need to quietly set them for yourself, another boundary might be that you're not at the office along with this person at any time that you always are gonna have, if you're interacting with this person that it's gonna be a team setting.

 

Lorelei

Since workplace harassment is protected, right?

 

Amy

Yes!

 

Lorelei

What legal avenues do folks have if they want to report these types of violations, maybe above and beyond their workspace?

 

Amy

The first place you can report is the EEOC or the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, which is the government entity that is set up specifically to address issues of harassment, discrimination, etcetera. So you can make a report to the EEOC, you could also consult an employment attorney and find out what your different options are. Organizations like SAFE have legal counsel on staff that you might be able to get free legal services through a pro bono organization, your local sexual violence organization, or just finding somebody online who handles these kinds of issues

 

Lorelei

On the note of finding a workplace harassment attorney in looking at the differences between workplace settlements, and some of the research that I've done, I have found that workers comp claims, which go predominantly to men, are not taxed. But you have something like a workplace harassment lawsuit, any sort of settlements that come out of that are taxed, which predominantly go towards women. Just, what do you think about that, Amy?

 

Amy

I was not aware of that. I’m gonna go on record and say that I am not a fan of that, and they should knock that off. 

 

Lorelei

Just checkin’. Alright, lastly, what are some resources that are available for our listeners should some crappy situation like this occur, I know that you've mentioned a few throughout the episode, but maybe you could just gift wrap them all for us right here at the end.

 

Amy

Absolutely, there's a number of different organizations that you can reach out to as a support, if you're going through something like this, I would reach out to your local rape crisis center or domestic violence shelter that probably has a hotline that you could talk with a trained counselor. You can also find those local resources by going to the National Center, which is RAINN. R-A-I-N-N dot org. You could also look at your state Workforce Commission, or EEOC, in terms of moving forward with legal action.

 

Lorelei

And of course, the SAFE Institute. 

 

Amy

Yes, we're based in Austin, Texas, but we do virtual training all over the country, and even if we are not available to train, we'd be happy to serve as a resource and help connect you with a local resource in your area. And I have to say that maybe it's not ideal for solving the situation in some ways, but for better for worse, companies sometimes respond when things go public and you can just speak out through the press, you can speak out through social media, you can call it out, and I don't discourage people from doing that because sometimes that's how change happens, is by applying pressure if they're not gonna do the right thing on their own.

 

Lorelei

Thank you for that last little word of support. It's really important, and I really appreciate your time today. Now, we're gonna transition to our femme fact, and I have a question for you. 

 

Amy

I'm ready. 

 

Lorelei

Is there any particular power outfit that comes to mind when you think of the color white...

 

Amy

Kamala Harris’ pant suit during her acceptance speech.

 

Lorelei

Alright, so you are right there with us. So White as a color for clothing has come to mean many things to many cultures throughout the ages. For example, why does the color of mourning for most Eastern cultures, whereas Black is the colour of mourning for a lot of European cultures. If you listen to past episodes of this podcast, you might recall the episode titled The Language of Fashion where our fashionista guest host, Michelle Washington, taught us that white used to symbolize a fresh start before it was co-opted for the wedding dress. And historically, white was worn by aristocrats and royalty for its regal connotations due to the luxury of owning a piece of clothing that could stay clean and white. But we're talking today about the lesser known ties to the color white in regard to the women's suffrage movement in the early 1900s. Suffragette white as fashion gurus have coined the term refers to the deliberate fashion choice women of the Suffrage Movement used to draw attention to their cause. Women have often used clothing and color choices away to make political statements throughout the ages, and this was no different.

 

For most of the events and rallies organized around the country for the cause of women's suffrage, women who participated in this movement wore three primary colors, and they were purple, a yellow gold, and the star of today's femme fact, suffragette white. Now, these colors had meaning, purple was meant to represent loyalty, gold represented the Kansas State sunflower in honor of where Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Katie Stanton campaigned, and White was used to represent morality and respectability. These three colors represented the ideals that suffragettes fought for with white becoming the primary symbol as a way to call attention to their cause. Now, given the fact that color photography wasn't a thing in the 1900s, newspaper clippings and photographs that made the front page back then were in black and white or gray scale, so all white clothing options and photographs became very attention-grabbing imagery. It was a color that starkly contrasted against all else and the pictures and screamed, “look at us, here we are, we demand to be seen.” And that's exactly what it did. Women were all white dresses and outfits to enhance their appearance and newspapers and at events, creating a consistent image and theme for their movement. And as we all know, women's rights are not exclusive to the wealthy and the privileged. And some women of the Suffragette Movement understood that. And let's be clear, not all of them understood that, but we're not gonna go into that today. Now, to ensure that a majority of women could make a statement with their clothing, the suffrage chose to make white the star color of their movement due to the high availability of white or non-dyed fabric and the low cost associated with it. White cloth was just much more available than say, gold or purple, making the white outfit the suffragettes battle uniform. The history of the color white’s historical origins and the Suffrage Movement are fascinating in and of itself, as well as the movement's transcendence to modern day feminism. Today, some of our most well-known female politicians deliberately choose to wear white to honor the long road traveled by our fighting for others, paying respect to the women who helped us gain the opportunities we have today, while acknowledging that we still have fights ahead of us. hen Hillary Clinton gave her accepted speech, becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major party for President, she wore white. During the 2020 stated the Union address a group of female lawmakers from the house wore suffragette white in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

And this was not the first time that white was worn by the women of Congress as a symbol of solidarity on women's issues. And as Amy already pointed out, our most recent glass-shattering event had Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris wearing all white as she gave her VP acceptance speech the night that President-Elect Joe Biden was announced, the 2020 presidential election winner. Stating in her speech that she stands on the shoulders of the women of history who have persevered through the passage of the 19th amendment, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and many other successful fights. So the next time you're feeling epic wanting to give a nod to our past or to celebrate a victory, grab that nice white outfit that you have hidden in the back of your closet... I know it's there. And don't worry if it gets dirty 'cause that's okay. Hell, wear it on your next Zoom call, wear it to the first day of your new job, wear it during the holidays and remember that you deserve to be seen. Now, we haven't had a female president yet, but I sure as heck hope that when we do, we're gonna see her don the suffragette white at her inauguration, paying homage to all the badass broads in history that keep making strides forward. Each one of our successes makes it possible. One step at a time, ladies. Now, I hope this episode has given you additional tools to continue the fight forward, especially in some of those icky situations that many of us encounter Amy, I really, really appreciate you coming into this really difficult conversation and giving us actionable items to work with as well as the love and grace to give ourselves.

 

Amy

Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to your audience, and I really encourage them to reach out to me as a resource if they are struggling at work because you don't deserve it, and it's gotta stop.

 

Lorelei

Excellent, thank you again, Amy. And thank you for listening. If you like the show, please subscribe, maybe rate us. If you have any questions, you are welcome to email us at [email protected] And I know that's a mouthful, so you can check out our show notes, we're gonna link all the amazing resources that Amy mentioned today, as well as our social media accounts, and that crazy long email address I just shared with you. And so next time, keep striving one step at a time.

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Being targeted
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Femme fact: Suffragette White