I am one of the lucky ones. I can’t claim to be a part of any of the women’s movements that have been circulating since the scandalous tales of Harvey Weinstein became public. You see, I’ve never been sexually harassed in the workplace. I’ve never had to deal with the trauma that that entails.
The #MeToo movement launched in America and the #NOW Australia campaign, started by Australia’s Tracey Spicer are wonderful initiatives. They acknowledge and draw attention to the very real and sad circumstances surrounding so many women in the workplace. Harassment, intimidation and abuse are just some of the things that many women have suffered in silence from. Now, thanks to some incredibly brave women leading the charge, the cover surrounding such atrocities is being lifted and women everywhere are telling their own stories.
Movements like these are a powerful thing. I was talking to some friends the other day and a couple of them told for the first time, their own stories of being sexually harassed in the workplace. How it happened when they were young and naïve. When the imbalance of power swung far away from them. ‘Graduates, new employees, the only woman in the firm’, were standard sentences. In hindsight, all of them acknowledged that they had suffered. Yet they never told. When I asked them why, and I guess the answer was the same for so many other women. ‘Well if I told, then who would believe me, and even if they did, I would never get another job or a promotion because I would be seen as a troublemaker’. Unfortunately, they were most likely right.
After talking with my friends, what has stayed with me is that these movements have enabled women to open up and to tell their stories. To be honest and frank about the ordeal they have been through. I have had multiple miscarriages and have always been open about them. I realised early on that they were not my fault and although heartbreaking, it was a fact of life which I could do nothing about. Telling some close friends may not be what everyone likes to do, but it’s what I did. I knew my friends wouldn’t judge me for it and I always felt better when I told a mate.
And what I discovered when I told friends was that once I had opened up and been honest and told of my heartbreak, my grief, they did too. Some of my closest friends had kept their own stories of loss and sorrow to themselves. I am not sure of the reason but they never confided in their friends. But as soon as a conversation was started about miscarriage and the sadness surrounding it, women started talking. And they didn’t stop. They realised that they weren’t alone. It was the #MeToo movement all over again. I’d like to see women embrace this ideology and know that whatever they are going through they are not alone. Whatever hurdle or challenge they are facing or whatever trauma or tragedy they are dealing with, a conversation with another woman is a great place to start.
Clare Sultmann is a wife, mother of 3 and the founder of Dear Molly.
As a survivor of a catastrophic accident, former barrister at