TODAY’S REQUIRED READING: Stories Like Passwords, by Emma Healey
“A story like this is a password. Once you say it out loud, doors start to open. For the rest of that night, and the rest of my time at that residency, the women who’d seen those emails would tell me stories.”
There’s a minor scandal going on in Canada about a radio guy being fired because he’s (potentially) attacked some women. The scandal will go away, the conversations are almost all very one sided, and it’s all terrible. (A bit wag the dog considering Harper’s speech on making Canada a police state). But this article struck a chord with me.
Because yes, there is a girl network and it hums in the shadows. We try to screen for security when we meet someone new, we try to keep other women safe from people we know are suspicious. We ask questions of other women when we’re uncertain about an interaction. We tell each other about the missing stairs, because otherwise there’s no way to know.
Are you a part of it? I am. Let’s talk about this instead: Who do you tell these stories about and who do you tell them to?
“The men in stories like this always have just enough power, in their little worlds and in ours, that to confront them would be to court an ordeal, to invite others to question our own memories and motives. It’s always more trouble than it’s worth. If you don’t have hard proof, if you don’t have a police report, then what do you have? Only what you remember. Only what you felt.”
As someone pointed out in a related thread on Facebook, it’s “reminiscent of recent outpourings in the science communication community following revelations of ongoing harassment”
Which led me to this list, Mixed Up, a list of inappropriate things a woman in science has experienced, framed as things she wants “men in professional settings to know what they cannot do.” She says, “The situations below are mixed up chronologically so you don’t know who did what to me. I’m not naming names. But please note: my name is on this. Life isn’t fair.”
It’s a powerful thing to read. I’m inspired to perhaps write my own in solidarity, but can’t imagine where to even begin. How to put such a thing in order? There are too many.