I didn’t know that I had justification to report them.
My male co-captain told me that there was nothing anyone could do for me because what happened wasn’t That summer, I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of flight. Countless days as I drove home from the hangar, I found myself crying over something that I didn’t understand, although it was something that I’d felt before with the photo incident. During my first week I pulled up to a hangar in the fuel truck, only to be turned away because “No f*cking way is some chick fueling my plane.” One of the flight instructors (who was later fired) constantly talked about women being nothing more than strippers and prostitutes.
I can’t imagine how I would have felt if this were my first time.
Despite this all, I have nothing but love for the women-in-tech community that I met the Twitter harasser through.
When I was a junior in high school, two boys from my almost entirely male robotics team broke into my bedroom and took pictures in sexual positions naked on my bed.
They tried on my bras and underwear, played dress-up in my sleepwear, and caught it all on camera.
I remember sitting there, unable to figure out why I was upset.
When I was done crying, I picked myself up, went back to practice, and continued as if everything was okay. I was the youngest captain of Massachusetts’ largest public school robotics team, and I didn’t have time for silly things like romance (oh, how times have changed).
Suddenly I looked back and understood that so many of the comments, subtle actions, and negative gestures I had taken personally were really just a more subtle form of sexism.I felt like a fraud, that I didn’t deserve the things I had — despite having worked endlessly for them.Luckily I have practice at dealing with harassment — I know when to stop reading the comments section, how to ignore creepy messages, and to turn to trusted people for help — but not all women do.The culture of dominance and aggression towards women is so pervasive that even competent, self-empowered women can be drawn into the trap of attacking each other for their accomplishments.
My anonymous Twitter critic isn’t my enemy here — the real enemy is a culture that forces us into competition with one another and conditions us to believe that one woman’s achievement is another’s failure, a culture that normalizes scrutinizing a woman’s sexuality over her work.I graduated high school and went on to become an engineering student at Case Western Reserve University.