This I Believe

Betsy - Saint Albans, West Virginia
Entered on November 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: freedom

I believe in women’s rights because I am a woman and I like to have the freedom to make my own choices. Most of the women I know do not like being treated like they need to be protected, and that they should be able to make decisions for themselves.

I had a boss once whom decided that I could not make my own decisions at work. He saw women as weaklings who needed to be protected and told what to do at all times. I shelved books at the time he worked at my library. I made my own shelving schedule and would decide where I wanted to shelve and when. When he arrived he decided to tell me when and where to shelve. True he was my boss but his reason was not a very fair one. He told me straight to my face that I “could not protect” myself and “could be raped” while on the job. That is why he would not “allow” me to shelve books on the second floor of the library by myself or during my evening shift. He even went as far as sending a male coworker to check on me while I was shelving, to make sure I was “okay, and not needing help.”

Not long after he told me I could be raped he was asked to resign for that reason, and for the fact that he treated all the women in the department like little lambs who could not find their way home. He was very condescending towards the women in our department and favored the men. For example, he would send a male coworker up to shelve on the second floor when he was scheduled to work the circulation desk and would have me replace the male coworker on the desk. He would also make the women who did not even work in his department feel like they were weaklings. He told one woman who worked in another department that she was not allowed to go by herself on the second floor to weed books unless she was wearing a walkie-talkie so she could page him when she needed him. This really aggravated her and made her feel like she could not even walk through the library without an escort. I believe he learned his lesson when the women took action against him (as did the men).

Being treated like a weakling by my former boss really opened my eyes to how women are treated in the workplace. We are not always treated as equals and sometimes our decisions are made for us. To me this is very demoralizing and very demeaning. I felt like I was nothing at my job when my former boss was there. I believe that my former boss taught me to be stronger when it came to my rights at work. At first I was nervous to confront him or any of my superiors about the way I was being treated, but the more he treated my coworkers and I like weak lambs the more I realized I had to do something. I had to stand up for my rights as a woman, and as an employee also.