It all comes back to fear.
Fear of being that woman that spoils everyone’s good time. Fear of being that woman who stands up for what she believes in but loses her job for it. Fear of making a scene and being ignored or replaced.
That’s what a majority of women described to Kotaku.com’s Rachel Edidin when she interviewed them for a story about sexual harassment in the video gaming and tech industry.
Her story centered around a female games industry veteran who recently experienced a troubling encounter with IndieStatik reporter Josh Mattingly on Facebook. A screenshot of the conversation has been making the rounds on social media and gaming sites; however, the names and photos have been blurred.
The conversation starts off innocent enough with greetings and talk about a particular game a studio is developing. It then takes a turn for the worse.
After Mattingly offers her oral sex, the woman, referred to as Alice Mercier (not her real name), tries to steer the conversation back on course, but she never calls him out for it.
1.) She doesn’t want to burn a bridge with a member of the press and/or be labeled a problem.
2.) Like other women who have experienced sexual harrassment or abuse in the workplace, she doesn’t want to be the squeaky wheel, also known as “that woman.”
You may have noticed by now that I’ve used that phrase several times during this post. So, what gives? What does “that woman” even mean?
Edidin writes, “That girl is the bogeyman, a cautionary tale to keep the ladies in line. ‘That girl’ is the woman who is iced out for speaking up and ruining everyone’s fun. I hear about her from almost every woman I interview.”
And if you’re a woman and reading this post, you might have at some point chose not to speak up for fear of being labeled a troublemaker, and that can’t continue to happen.
So, how do we change it? How do we take this fear and turn it into something positive?
Well, a few have already started the process by banding together on Twitter and using the hashtag #thatwoman to raise awareness about sexism and harassment in the workplace. It also has connected women across the country, knitting a support system together for women who are tired of overlooking these issues and being denied career opportunities because they shut down sexual advances.
This hashtag is for you. Use it and be proud to be #thatwoman.