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Alyssa Leader @alittleleader
, 12 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I trust others will come along to share about how the Pence rule can be damaging. But it's got me thinking about a rule I prefer, which I'm now dubbing the "Tom" rule: how men can monitor their behavior to make sure their female colleagues feel safe.
I worked at a job in my earl(ier) 20's where the nature of our work was dangerous, & I often had to close down late at night with a male colleague, Tom. He was super thoughtful about making sure I didn't feel threatened by him or others while we were closing down alone.
If I was in a room working alone, he would announce himself at the door and ask if it was okay to come in. He never walked up behind me without warning me.
As we were leaving and shutting off lights he would wait until we were both outside of the room and reach back to turn off the light so I wasn't in a dark room with him.
When the doorbell rang, he offered to get it so that I wouldn't have to open the door to a stranger. When we left the building he walked out in front of me, and I locked the doors behind us so I knew there was no chance he was going to pull me back inside the door.
He watched me walk to my car to make sure I was okay but didn't walk up to my car in a way that made me concerned about opening the door. He waited in the parking lot to make sure my car cranked and I was able to drive off before he cranked his.
And the key thing here is Tom didn't do any of those things out of fear that I would someday say he tried to hurt me or do something inappropriate. He wasn't worried about what being alone with me meant for him.
He did them because he recognized that as a woman doing dangerous work in a world that is dangerous for women, I had a valid reason to be nervous about closing down alone with a man. He wanted to do as much as he could to make sure I felt comfortable.
He never pointed out any of this, but I noticed. And the respect I had for Tom because he showed that respect for me was pretty much unending. And it showed through in our work! I went to bat for him and helped when he needed it. We were both better for it.
If these men took the energy they use avoiding women a la Pence and used it instead to think of how to make sure they aren't making their colleagues feel threatened, we'd be looking at improved workplaces with better collegial relationships and more opportunities for everyone.
And even if they wouldn't get something out of it, it's a better rule to adopt than the Pence rule because it's the right freakin thing to do. If your instinct is to be a Pence, pull back and think about being a Tom instead.
PS: Tom is now a licensed counselor, and the last I heard he was working specifically with victim-survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. BE A TOM.
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