Open letter to an entitled middle - aged boss

Hey middle aged man, I know what you’re doing. As a young woman I’ve been in this situation, this intensely uncomfortable place, before. I see the bullshit you’re trying to pull on me, and I’m going to call you on it.

It didn’t take long in my professional career to meet one of your kind. You’re part of the natural trajectory, and you’re everywhere, in places of work all over the world. Lurking in the break room always ready to reach for the coffee at the same time and brush my hand, sliding your chair closer to mine in the meeting room as we discuss that very important project, hovering around the photocopier helping me to figure out the paper jam (FYI, I can handle it myself).

You’re the kind of ‘old-fashioned’ guy that thinks men should be men, and women should be ladies. That means you always foot the bill…if the lady in question is young and vaguely attractive. And you have an ulterior motive. Of course you do. You bought me an expensive coffee once, so now you think you own me. I am not a ‘whore’, and if I was, I would work somewhere that pays more than unwanted compliments. There isn’t enough money in the world to buy my favour. You pay for that with respect.

Don’t be so familiar or familial with me. When you step a little too close to me, when you touch my shoulder, you are overstepping the mark, you are going where you have no right to be. You’re not my uncle, you’re not my father. We are not friends.

This body is mine: it may be in a public place but that does not make it public domain. Sometimes I might be having a bad day- it has nothing to do with you and your hurt feelings when I want to be left in peace. I don’t have to pay rent in smiles to exist here.

You can probably see the myriad experiences of my life inscribed on my body. Emotional scars can be just as visible as those that are skin deep. My vulnerability gives away the cruel things that have been done to me. This isn’t permission for you to take your share. It’s not your turn to force yourself into my personal space: those other men didn’t leave a gap that needs to be constantly filled by a new abuser. Yes, thats right, you are an abuser. You abuse your power as my superior, and your privilege as a man.

Equally, it’s not your job to save me. Just because you gave me the day off for my birthday, just because you let me call in sick, just because you give me slightly more interesting work than my colleagues, doesn’t mean I owe you. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am and you don’t get to take ownership for that away from me.

Your excuse is that the world is changing so fast that you can’t keep up, it’s so hard to know what is no longer politically correct. The reality is that you are too lazy and entitled to think about different perspectives, to try to view reality through the prism of an alternative experience to yours.

So, middle-aged man, don’t try to make me your pet. I am not here to stroke your ego. I am not a trophy.

I see you. Now see me.

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