Call Me “Trouble” Like it’s My Fault

My job requires me to engage with people all day, every day. My job requires me to understand a person’s needs, find solutions for them and ultimately, have them choose the service I am proposing. My job requires that I see my potential or existing clients socially and build relationships with them. I’m lucky that I am a social person and enjoy the experiences that each person I meet can share with me. But I’m not so lucky that for every fascinating person I meet in a professional setting there are at least 3 people who have zero respect for me in my capacity as a young and intelligent woman.

These are the men who will constantly interrupt me during a business lunch, no matter how important what I’m saying is, to tell me my eyes are beautiful. These are the men who will ask me what my star sign is only to reply “Scorpio! Dangerous and sexy.” These are the men who will mistake my smile and agreement to a business deal as an encouragement that I want them. These are the men who are gentlemen enough to walk me to my hotel whilst we’re at an out-of-town a conference, only to ask if they can come up to my room with me. These are the men who call me “trouble” like it’s my fault they want to lose all control and make them do things they wouldn’t normally do.

I’ve been socialised to be able to get past the part where he tries: I guess if a man feels so strongly about me that he must say something or make a pass, then that’s what a man must do. “Who can blame a guy for trying?” But the part where I see red, where I feel disrespected, where I realise to them I’m just an object is when they say “… it won’t change anything.” How dare they? How dare they suggest that they can take advantage of me, use me, have their way with me in whichever way they please and then wake up in the morning and resume a professional working relationship with me like nothing has happened? Am I that much of an object to them that they think they can pick me up, use me, put me down and I will remain unchanged?

No. Just the very act of a man prioritising the way I look over what I have to say affects me. And it tells me everything I need to know about him. He will never respect a woman. He will never love a woman for her truest beauty. He will never be with a woman in totality. He is missing out. He is only living half a life.

I wish I knew how to respond. I wish I knew how to make these men see how the way they treat me and every other woman makes us feel. And I wish that all the other people who dismiss my stories with a “take it as a compliment” understood that by saying that they are no better.

As I grow my career and build my reputation my one goal will be to stand up to these men, to make them realise. I don’t know how yet. But watch this space.