IT’S TIME I SHOW YOU WHAT MISOGYNY CAN LOOK LIKE. READ THIS AND PASS IT ALONG TO STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING TO OTHERS.
Listen up, all, it’s time I tell you a story.
For any girls working in the food service industry, this is especially important to you.
In the above pictures, you can see what I wore to work as a hostess in the high-end restaurant I’ve been working in. Pay particular attention to the black skirt that comes just a few inches above my knees.
I was in the back service station getting a sip of my drink before heading back to the hostess stand, when I heard my manager behind me. He’s an older man, very stoic and reserved, and I heard him address one of the male servers.
"Patrick, why is it you’re staring at Madison’s legs like that?"
Oh. Shit. So naturally, I turn around and take in the situation, and it was very obvious Patrick had been staring at me. I was about to thank my manager, when he turned to me.
"Why are you wearing skirts that short that you got men like Patrick staring at your legs?" he asked, and the worst fucking part was just how SERIOUS my manager was.
Now, despite all of my feminist ideals, understandings of misogyny, and rape culture, I did the first instinctive thing I could: I pulled my skirt a little longer and apologized. I walked away, shocked by what I heard, and disgusted by my own reaction.
Fast forward an hour and a half. I’m still thoroughly pissed at my manager and myself, but my other hostess friend did a wonderful job of cheering me up that involved talking about how misogynistic and bigoted my manager was.
I went to the other service station where my manager was unfortunately standing, surrounded by other servers, bussers, runners, and a table of customers eating their dinner. I asked if there were any extra menus laying around back there, and he shook his head. “Come here, can I ask you something?”
Stupidly assuming this was regarding my actual job as a hostess, I agreed, and sure as hell, he asks, “Did your father let you out of the house in that skirt?”
All I could do was gape. Was he fucking serious? “I mean, you got all sorts of men staring at your legs,” he continued, “These are men married with kids. You got servers, bussers, and older men all staring at your legs. Why you gotta wear a skirt that short?”
I am a twenty-one year old woman. My father doesn’t ‘let’ me do anything. I am more modestly dressed than other hostesses, which I pointed out to him, only to receive a non-committal shrug. I shook my head and muttered “Sorry,” back, this time heavy with sarcasm, and went straight to the bar to get the attention of a female manager I trusted.
I later explained the entire scenario to my female manager, confessing to how uncomfortable and off-put I was about all that happened. I expressed that it felt so wrong that my manager didn’t scold the server for looking at me, but instead blamed me for Patrick’s lack of self control. That, if he had an issue with how I was dressed for work, he should have pulled me to the side and said that what I was wearing was inappropriate.
Girls, listen to me. Sure, this isn’t rape. No one laid their hands on me. But this kind of behavior is still sexual harassment, as well as sexual discrimination. This was an older man with authority, using it to demean a woman who was smaller and younger, thinking I would never speak up for myself and that he could get away with it.
If something like this happens to you, find a female person of authority and tell them. Express how uncomfortable it makes you. SPEAK UP. Do NOT let this kind of behavior EVER slide. This is misogyny. This is inappropriate. I was not dressed inappropriately, and even if I had been, I did NOT deserve that kind of treatment from a manager—a person I’m supposed to trust.
This is what misogyny looks like. It’s ingrained in our culture. Never let a man intimidate you and tell you how to look, or tell you other men’s inappropriate behavior is your fault. It NEVER is.
Tell someone when it happens to you, or you see it happens to others. Stop misogyny in it’s tracks, and be the strong, powerful, sexy woman you are. Flaunt what looks good. Be confident. Love yourself. Simple as that.