Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive & Skilled Trades Industries
A Five-Part Series
Brought to you by Femcanic Garage and Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications*
This series will address issues that may be traumatic for some readers – Contains graphic language and references toverbal abuse, misogyny, homophobia, violence & sexual assault.
Comedian George Carlin said, “Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”
That’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes, isn’t it? Compare a male and female of any other species on the planet… Sure, there are some biological differences – like a male dog humping everything in sight – but when the doorbell rings, a dog barks at the door, regardless of its genitals.
People, though… Well, we’re different from other species. Men and women respond differently to their environments (have you ever watched a sappy movie with your partner?), and they also have some different needs. But folks of both genders have a lot of similarities as well: They want to be liked, accepted and respected.
Here’s why you give a damn: Women held just 23.6% of jobs in the motor vehicles and motor vehicles equipment manufacturing industry in 2019 (source). Even more damning? Only 1% of positions for collision repair technicians and 1.4% of automotive service technician positions were filled by women.
And it’s not because women can’t do the job – I mean, seriously, have you seen some of these badasses?!
An industry in desperate need of qualified technicians and other personnel cannot afford to alienate half the population right out of the gate!
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re giving you some insights into the Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive & Skilled Trades Industries. We hope you’ll stick around for the ride – learn a little, laugh a little and hopefully find something that resonates!
Guys, we know you have questions – cheers 🥂 to that infamous female intuition! – so we’re going to take a stab at answering them at the bottom of this post .
And hey ladies – although this is addressed to the men for simplicity’s sake, this isn’t merely a “men” problem. There’s a lot of girl-on-girl crime going on in this industry (you get extra cool points if you get the reference)… as women, we can all do a better job of supporting one another. “Just laugh it off” only ensures that our daughters and even granddaughters are still dealing with the same bullshit – and they don’t have our sense of humor! They’re already fed up; they were BORN fed up.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Femcanic Garage and Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications are partnering each Wednesday in March to bring you the Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive & Skilled Labor Trades Industries.
This series features many voices, not just ours. Women in the automotive industry have graciously shared their stories**, and we’ve done our best to bring as much information and resources together as possible. We want to dive into those real, raw, taboo topics – the subjects that make you shush your friends if they speak too loudly in public – and we’ll share them through text, audio and imagery because people are diverse and everyone digests information differently – and that’s okay!
We’ll share our thoughts, too, because we want you to understand: This isn’t just a “them” problem, an “over there” problem – it’s a problem impacting you, impacting ALL of us, a problem that’s taking place RIGHT HERE, everywhere, and if we don’t break out of our comfort zones and start talking about these not-so-sexy secrets, nothing will ever change.
But more importantly, we’ll add our voices to the many women who’ve shared their stories because we owe them that. We owe them the added strength of our voices – we are stronger together, and unless we begin to address this as an industry and as a society, our daughters will be sharing these same stories 20 years down the road. We welcome you to this journey and are so excited you’ve decided to join us – women and other minorities need the support of strong allies and industry leadership to solve these problems.
Other industries have made significant strides when it comes to tackling similar concerns, proving that improvement IS possible. We believe it’s past time for the automotive and skilled labor trades industries to have this conversation.
Now, buckle up for a whirlwind of misplaced gender roles, disturbing tales from the frontlines, and a good hearty helping of brutal honesty. But before we dive in, a quick note to the gents and the ladies…
Men: We understand that you’re probably a little reluctant to confront this, and it’s awesome that you’re still with us – we promise we aren’t here to attack you. Now, we may challenge some ideas that that have been instilled in you and offer suggestions you haven’t considered, but it’s coming from a place of love and faith that you’re open, that you’re ready to have this conversation, that you’re prepared to participate in making this world a better place for all people. We know you have only the best intentions, but who hasn’t unintentionally offended someone? Let’s talk about some things you may not have thought of before and how these “women’s rights” issues impact you, too!
Women: For those of you who have faced gender discrimination or any of discrimination’s other ugly faces, we are here with you. We hear you. We see you. We believe you. To the rest of you, we know that not every woman feels oppressed – and we’re glad if you’re among that demographic. Keep on rocking! But a diamond doesn’t shine any less brightly because it’s surrounded by other diamonds… Help one another. Mentor each other. Let’s support ALL the badass women in the automotive and skilled labor trades industries!
Sexual Harassment: No Means No – And Shouldn’t Have to Be Said in the Workplace in the First Fucking Place!
Part 5 of 5
Honey, I’ll be home a couple hours late, dinner with the boss, think I’m getting the promotion!” Rick whispered into the phone before wrapping up his workday and logging off his computer. Corporate America ain’t so bad when you have an awesome boss like Mary, he thought.
At dinner, Mary hinted that Rick would be “moving into that corner office soon” before ordering a bottle of champagne and excusing herself for a moment. Upon her return, she inched so close to Rick that their thighs touched, and clinking their glasses gently, she seductively whispered, “I’ll officially announce your promotion as soon as you give ME what I’VE been wanting.”
Wide-eyed, Rick jumped back and out of the booth as Mary hissed, “You’re fired!” What the hell was he going to tell his wife? She’d think he was asking for it since he let Mary buy him that drink!
Let’s talk about SEX!! OK, not really. We’re talking about sex’s ugly cousins: sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape. Alright, guys and gals… here we go!
“No’ is a complete sentence.”
I know, I know, I keep throwing these ugly words at y’all, so let’s define a couple of them.
Sexual Harassment (noun): uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (such as an employee or student)
Sexual Assault (noun): illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent (as because of age or physical or mental incapacity) or who places the assailant (such as a doctor) in a position of trust or authority
The EEOC further clarifies its view of Sexual Harassment: “Harassment can include ‘sexual harassment’ or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature[…] Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex[…] The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”
Why is it such a touchy subject? It’s touchy because it’s so widespread. You see numbers, you see statistics. I see a friend, a co-worker, an acquaintance, a stranger, a loved one – telling me their story. And when I say “see,” I actually mean “recall.” Starting from the time I was 13, I remember all the friends who’ve shared similar stories (almost every female friend I’ve ever had). Family members who cried in shame decades later at a horrible memory. Children. So, I’m angry. I’ve had enough. Haven’t you?
In a 2017 survey conducted by “Automotive News” and Deloitte, 65% of respondents confirmed that they had been subjected to “unwanted sexual advances” during their career in the automotive industry. Compare this to a 2017 survey in which 28% of women working in male-dominated industries personally experienced sexual harassment, a number that drops to 20% in female-dominated industries (source). A report filed in 2016 by the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace estimated that as many as 85% of women in the United States have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. A poll conducted by the NBC found that 48% of women had been subjected to sexual harassment (source).
EEOC’s Task Force also wrote: “Workplace Harassment Too Often Goes Unreported. Common workplace-based responses by those who experience sex-based harassment are to avoid the harasser, deny or downplay the gravity of the situation, or attempt to ignore, forget, or endure the behavior. The least common response to harassment is to take some formal action – either to report the harassment internally or file a formal legal complaint. Roughly three out of four individuals who experienced harassment never even talked to a supervisor, manager, or union representative about the harassing conduct. Employees who experience harassment fail to report the harassing behavior or to file a complaint because they fear disbelief of their claim, inaction on their claim, blame, or social or professional retaliation.”
“WAIT A MINUTE, you’re telling me it’s underreported?! I knew it happened a lot, but not THAT much.” According to a 2018 poll, 81% of women experience some form of sexual harassment or assault during their life; however, citing Ipsos Mori’s Perils of Perception survey, this article states that men in the U.S. estimated that number to be 44%. (OK, but seriously guys, if you’re estimating it to be 44%, how do you NOT realize that’s a problem?! Grrrr!) We’ll talk more about why it’s underreported later, but you can probably guess by now! 😊
So, sexual harassment is obviously a huge problem. “A small survey of the California Bay Area in the early 2000s found that 100%of women had been the target of sexual remarks. Nineteen percent said it happened every day and nearly half said it was often. A YouGov poll from 2017 concluded that 60% of women in America have experienced sexual harassment. An additional 8% preferred not to respond (source).” And the terrifying statistics go on and on…
“OK, but sexual harassment happens in other industries too!” Yeah, we know. Yet it’s more prevalent in the automotive industry, an industry that cannot afford to lose qualified personnel.
A blog published by Alexander, Morrison and Fehr noted, “The risk of sexual harassment is high in jobs across the auto industry, but you may face elevated risks if you work in a car dealership. While you run the risk of experiencing harassment by your colleagues, you also face risks when giving customers test drives. Such safety and harassment concerns likely play a role in why there is such high turnover among female automotive salespeople. In 2016, the turnover rate among women working in automotive sales was 96%.”
As you read these experiences, ask yourself – Does any person deserve to be treated like this (and why does anyone have the right to treat another human being this way)?!
“A customer said, ‘It makes my dick hard to watch you work on my truck.’ I replied, “That line doesn’t only not work on a real woman – you sound like a rapist. You don’t know me; do NOT talk to me like that. It’s disgusting. I bet you’re the guy sending dick pics nobody wants.” He got all offended, said he was just trying to give me a compliment. I refused to work until he left me alone. It takes a LOT to offend me, but OMG – that pissed me right off! I couldn’t go to my boss – he encouraged that behavior, hell, he participated in it! Offered me $50 if he could touch my ass. He would tell ladies that they’d die in a wreck unless they got a $400 brake job… but he’d offer discounts for a blowjob. That job was a shitshow, but it was a steppingstone and created my armor. They are very much out of business now.”
Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction
Verbal sexual harassment is the most common form, impacting 77% of women and 34% of men, according to this report by “Stop Street Harassment.”
The 65% of surveyed women in automotive who reported being subjected to unwanted sexual advances also addressed where those advances came from, with some checking off multiple categories: colleagues 57.55%, clients 45.99%, superiors 39.32%. Over 55% reported receiving inappropriate comments on their attire or appearance from male colleagues, at least once. The majority did not report instances of sexual harassment because they didn’t think it would make a difference, they were afraid it would negatively impact their career, they were too embarrassed, or they simply wanted to forget it. Of those who filed a complaint, 56% were not satisfied; less than 6% were extremely satisfied (source).
Even scarier? Some women don’t even know how to identify sexual harassment because it’s everywhere – “It’s just some dude being skeevy,” women will say when a man brushes up against her ass on the street. It’s invasive, it’s illegal, it’s assault.
A “Cosmopolitan” survey initially states that one in three (1/3) women between the ages of 18 to 34 had been sexually harassed at work, yet their findings also note, “There are at least some women who don’t realize that the behavior they’re experiencing at work constitutes sexual harassment. 16% of women said ‘no’ when asked if they had been sexually harassed at work but said ‘yes’ to experiencing sexually explicit or sexist remarks.”
Cosmopolitan found that 81% of surveyed women had been harassed in verbal form, 25% had received lewd text or emails, and 44% encountered unwanted touches and sexual advances. With some women reporting on multiple instances of harassment, 75% were harassed my male co-workers, 49% by male clients/customers, 38% by male managers, and 10% by female co-workers. Only 29% reported the violation, and of those, 15% felt it was handled fairly (source).
As ridiculously high as those numbers are, it’s important to mention that a white cisgender woman is in less danger of sexual harassment and assault than other groups. We’ll talk more about LGBTQIA+ folks later, and though we haven’t really touched much on the intersection of sexism and racism in this series, we’d be remiss not to point out that minority races are more likely to experience sexual harassment and assault. Read more here, here or here .
Even when it IS recognized, why is it underreported? Well, as we’ve discussed with other issues related to sexism, few women (and men) are willing to report instances of sexism or even sexual harassment or assault because they’re afraid of the repercussions. Those who do report are often met with criticism, threats, retaliation, job loss.
Another concern: It’s rare that anything actually comes from these claims. According to this article, “75% of people who experience sexual harassment do not report it […] Of the cases that were settled [in 2015], the EEOC dismissed 52% since it had ‘no reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred’. A further 25% had a result for the claimant that was deemed positive. These ‘favorable’ outcomes include negotiated settlements, withdrawals of claims but with benefits, successful conciliations and unsuccessful conciliations (the last category means ‘reasonable cause’ was established but there was no conciliation). The remaining 23% of sexual harassment legal claims were simply closed for administrative reasons.”
Really makes ya want to put yourself out there, doesn’t it? As this article notes, “Even as women participate more in the automotive world (the numbers show that more women than men hold driver’s licenses and that more than 80 percent of car-buying decisions are made by women), the one thing they can’t buy is respect.”
“The constant rumors of sleeping around – and of course sleeping with supervisors to get job statements. My supervisor once told me, “The only way to keep your job is to go spread your legs like a good girl.” I spread my legs for no one! I went to HR, and they moved him to a different shop.”
Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction
We’ve already pointed out that most sexual harassment goes unreported because people are afraid of retaliation. According to this article, “The folks who handled nearly 7,000 sexual harassment complaints last year estimate that 3 out of 4 harassment victims never report it.”
A report by the EEOC stated, “gender-harassing conduct was almost never reported; unwanted physical touching was formally reported only 8% of the time; and sexually coercive behavior was reported by only 30% of the women who experienced it. In terms of filing a formal complaint, the percentages tend to be quite low. Studies have found that 6% to 13% of individuals who experience harassment file a formal complaint. That means that, on average, anywhere from 87% to 94% of individuals did not file a formal complaint.”
The same report cited a 2003 study that found “75% of employees who spoke out against workplace mistreatment faced some form of retaliation” [Lilia M. Cortina & Vicki J. Magley, Raising Voice, Risking Retaliation: Events Following Interpersonal Mistreatment in the Workplace, 8:4 J. Occupational Health Psychol. 247, 255 (2003)].
An article in “Psychology Today” identifies three categories of sexual harassment behavior: “Gender harassment refers to verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey insulting, hostile, and degrading attitudes toward women such as questioning women’s competence for a particular job, displaying pornography, calling women ‘bitches,’ and making obscene gestures. Unwanted sexual attention includes suggestive comments about a woman’s body as well as unsolicited and unreciprocated sexual advances. Most of the reported harassment at Fox falls into this category. Last, sexual coercion refers to requiring sex as a condition of employment or job rewards.”
(Now, if that last category has you thinking, “Of course women sleep their way to the top” – please tell your Misogyny to shut the fuck up.)
“All my situations happened in school. Besides rumors being spread that I was exchanging sexual favors for grades, there was one time that lewd comments were made while I was looking under a vehicle on a lift. When I spoke up, I was chastised for ‘making it easy by opening myself up to the comments.’ By doing what… my job? Paying attention? Trying to learn?”
Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction
So, when a man performs a job function, he’s doing his job. When a woman does it, she’s asking for the D? Gotta love those double standards! This is the same mentality that assumes a woman who has “easy” friends is a whore herself, yet a man can hang with his abusive, sexist, racist and rapist friends because “he’s a good guy; his beliefs are none of my business.” Oh. 🖕 🖕 🖕
Seriously, though, these women don’t even get a chance to enter their field before they’re sexually harassed! Actually, one study found that it’s common for “women pursuing male-dominated university majors [to] experience higher levels of harassment than women earning other degrees” (source).
Young women are particularly at risk of sexual assault, as well. “Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Women ages 18-24 who are college students are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are 4 times more likely” (source).
Want to hear something crazy? Most times, sexual harassment and assault isn’t even about sex; it’s about power! Studies suggest that it’s often a response to feeling that one’s position or social status has been threatened (source). Check out the correlation between fragile masculinity and sexual harassment here or here .
In this article, Emily Martin, general counsel and vice president for workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, said, “Part of what sexual harassment is is an expression of power and expression of hostility. When there aren’t women there to do the job, some men think women can’t do the job. When there are fewer women in the workplace, they are more isolated in general.”
Isolation has significant impacts on a person’s psyche. When women are isolated, they’re generally less comfortable to share their stories, especially stories of sexual harassment. There are a multitude of reasons for this, each unique to the individual woman. But there are a couple of recurring themes.
The first? Feeling vulnerable. Women do not see themselves as weak. Very few women actually feel like damsels in distress, and that’s definitely not the case when it comes to the badass ladies in the automotive and skilled labor trades industries. And being harassed, assaulted, raped – that makes a woman look (and feel) weak.
Next: “She was asking for it. Did you see what she was wearing?” Victim blaming is another factor preventing women from coming forward after being subjected to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and even rape.
According to this report, “The negative effects of sexual harassment are exacerbated by victim blame, which we focus on in the current research, and which relates to beliefs that women are sexually harassed, at least in part, because of their provocative behavior toward men. Considered a form of secondary victimization, being blamed for experiencing sexual harassment can help to explain why the job and health related outcomes for women who make a complaint are no better and can actually be worse than for those who do not report the abuse. A fear of being blamed also contributes to very low rates of reporting and to self-blame, which is a cause of additional psychological distress for women who are sexually harassed.”
The report goes on to point out that men are less likely to see behavior as sexual harassment unless it’s particularly extreme, leading to increased victim-blaming. But studies indicate it’s not because these men lack empathy – in fact, victim-blaming the woman for wearing that low-cut shirt (oh, no!) actually results from their empathy for the male perpetrator (source).
Poor baby-man got called out on his inappropriate actions – isn’t that scary?! Yet girls are taught from puberty (if not sooner!) to walk around with keys thread between their fingers like Wolverine so they can protect themselves from an attacker. Lock the door as soon as you get in the car. Always look around.
If you doubt the veracity of these lessons, check out this depressing article about what women would do if men disappeared for just 24 hours. A highlight: “’We are fully aware that not every single man is threatening,’ one woman wrote. ‘We are just stating that most of the time we avoid doing certain things we would like to do out of fear of being kidnapped, raped or harassed.’”
Sadly, men are more likely to believe a pretty young woman’s claims of sexual harassment (source). Guess that makes automotive ladies impossible to sexually harass since they can’t possibly be good with cars unless they’re super butch, right? Yet, neither of these assumptions are factual.
“My co-worker sexually harassed and assaulted me daily.
I’d worked there for a year before he was hired – I loved my job! But I only
made it four months working with him. It started benign enough, as a shop joke
about his “crush,” but it got worse, and even though I told him to stop, he
acted like it was a joke.
I dreaded going to work. My painting suffered, so I got
passed over for a painter position. I barely ate for months. The best part: his
guy had already been to prison TWICE for sexual assault!
His harassment ranged from detailed instructions on how my
husband could please me in bed – to talking about my “sexy little ass” while
trying to lift my shirt from behind. He’d whistle when I walked by. While I was
getting tools out of my toolbox, he would stand so close behind me that I would
have to bump into him. He’d follow me into the back rooms (where there were no
cameras) and corner me.
One day, in front of three other co-workers, he grabbed my
leg and nearly slid his hand up my shorts. When I jerked away from him, he did
it again! I jumped out of my seat, got in my car and left. None of my
co-workers even reacted! They all saw it – and just sat there! Afterwards, a
couple of them told the boss, who knew this guy was a problem and fired him…
only to immediately hire him back because “he said he was sorry and wouldn’t do
The guys were pissed at him for th“ee whole days. By the
following’week, everyone”was buddy-buddy again. I felt ashamed, scared,
betrayed. And so angry! I didn’t stick around much longer after that – I
couldn’t work for a boss who would fire someone who sexually assaulted me and
then re-hired him out of pity. My co-workers claimed I was “just being
dramatic.” The worst part: this has affected how I interact with men – my
husband and our four sons shouldn’t have to deal with an anxious, traumatized
On a positive note: my current boss is awesome. I’d told him
about this situation, and a while ago, he met the guy who had been harassing
me, who asked my boss, “Are you fucking her?” and “Is she struggling at your
shop?” My boss responded, “No, she’s awesome and a great painter – she has no
problem keeping up with our two body men.’”
Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction
Say it with me now: Sexual. Assault. That’s what this is. When he slaps her ass, grabs her breast, reaches up her skirt – that’s sexual assault. And it’s not okay. At all. It’s completely unacceptable, and we cannot continue tolerating it!
“Whoa, slow down! Sexual assault is a bit of a stretch – it was just a few dirty jokes!” Is it? A study on women in the military indicates a correlation between sexual harassment and assault. “Women in the military who had been sexually harassed in the past year were 14 times more likely to also have been sexually assaulted in the same period compared with women who had not been sexually harassed[…] about a third of service members who were sexually assaulted said the offender had previously sexually harassed them” (source).
While verbal harassment plagues 77% of women, 51% have reported being touched in an unwelcome way. Over. Half. Of. Women. Have. Been. Inappropriately. Touched. Picture the hairiest, least appealing person imaginable grabbing your junk, guys. That’s how this feels. Because even if you’re Brad Pitt, disrespecting our physical autonomy makes you completely unappealing.
I cannot even begin to guess how many times a random guy has grabbed my ass, groped my tit, or worse. At the bar. At school. At work. In the park. At the movies. The mall. A party. It is a violation. Of my autonomy. Of my choice. Of my body. Do NOT touch random people, and don’t touch people you know without consent. Just knock this shit off already.
Four years ago, Emma Krenzer created Touches while she was a student at Nebraska Wesleyan University. On January 23, 2017, she explained the project on Twitter: “The prompt for this project was to create some sort of map. I created a map of human touch on another humans body and it’s lasting impact.”
In an article about Krenzer’s project, she noted, “I made this project largely for myself to actually visualize the lasting impact that touch can have on an individual.”
More than a quarter of women (27%) are victims of sexual assault. One in four. For a woman with disabilities, the likelihood of being assaulted becomes two in five (source). According to RAINN, an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. In fact, would you like to know the average number of rape and sexual assault victims annually, age 12 and older (you know I’m going to tell you anyway!): 433,648.
The 2018 ESPYS Arthur Ashe Award for Courage is presented to representatives for the 'sister survivors' who spoke out against sexual abuse by their former team doctor.
People between the ages of 18 and 34 are at the highest risk, comprising 54% of the population of victims. And while 82% of all juvenile victims are female, females also make up 90% of adult rape victims (who actually report).
Rape(noun): 1. unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception. 2. an outrageous violation
Yet less than 20% of rapes are reported (source). Here’s some useful information about nominal proportion of rapes that are actually reported. Looking at the graphic, you can see how few rapists face trial, let alone conviction or jail time. The project, completed in 2013, points out, “Until 2012, the federal definition of rape was limited to penetration of a vagina by a penis. Therefore, 100% of rapists would have to be men.” (Pause – we’re coming back to that. But please note that this does NOT mean all men are rapists. No woman I’ve ever met has expressed that belief, and I’m 100% convinced that rapists comprise a minority of men .)
Men are victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault, too. In fact, according to this survey, 10% of men have been sexually harassed at work. EEOC reports shows that the percentage of sexual harassment claims filed by men has risen from 8% in 1990 up to nearly 18% in 2020 (source).
Looking at data from the EEOC over the past 20 years, we see changes in the sexual harassment charges being brought forward in terms of the victims’ gender. From 2001-2020, there were 192,137 total charges brought in America’s 50 states, along with Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Excluding charges brought by persons whose gender was unidentified, there were 80,945 charges filed from 2001-2010, 15.3% of which were filed by men. During the most recent decade, men alleged sexual harassment in 18.3% of the 69,636 cases filed.
When we compare the data for the first decade of the millennium to the data for the second decade, a reduction of over 1,000 cases per year (on average) can be observed; however, as we see a decrease in the number of women filing charges, there’s also a slight increase in the number of men filing charges.
This is fairly consistent with the percentage of sex-based harassment allegations (which include sexual harassment) filed by men from 2010-2020 – an annual average of 16.8% (source).
Those numbers are significantly higher than the 8% of charges that were brought by men in 1990. So, what’s changed? Most likely, the increase in men reporting can be partially attributed to a landmark 1998 Supreme Court ruling, Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services , which found same-sex sexual harassment is a form of discrimination protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (source).
If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.
Another study found 34% of men were subjected to verbal sexual harassment, while 17% were “touched or groped in an unwelcome way” (source). We talked earlier about the study that showed military women who were subjected to sexual harassment were 14 times more likely to be sexually assaulted… For men, that number is exponentially higher – they are 49 times more likely to be sexually assaulted!
One in six men (17%) are victims of sexual violence (source). In fact, 10% of rape victims are male (source). Male victims are even less likely to report than women. Dr. Sarah Crome says that less than 10% of male victims actually report the atrocity that occurred to them (source).
According to this article, Crome also noted, “Male rape victims bear an extra burden because a male-on-male assault affects a man’s sexual identity in a fundamental way, shaming him by challenging his sense that, as a man, he should be able to protect himself.”
So when we talk about men being sexually assaulted, it’s important to note that, while 20.8% of heterosexual men report non-rape sexual assault, that number nearly doubles to 40.2% for gay men and increases to 47.4% for bisexual men (source). Gay and bisexual men are subject to slurs and harassment in disproportionate amounts.
This study states that “42% of gay and bisexual men reported facing physically aggressive sexual harassment compared with 25% of straight men, and 19% of gay and bisexual men reported experiencing sexual assault compared with 6% of straight men.”
“While the difference in sexual harassment based on sexual orientation for women was not statistically significant, lesbian and bisexual respondents reported experiencing each type slightly more than straight women. The difference for sexual assault was significant, however: 48% of lesbian or bisexual women reported experiencing sexual assault compared with 25% of straight women” (source).
The EEOC publishes statistics on LGBT-Based Sex Discrimination Charges, but they did not begin “tracking information on charges filed alleging discrimination related to gender identity and/or sexual orientation [until] charges received on or after January 1, 2013.” “Being called a homophobic or transphobic slur [like ‘fag,’ ‘dyke,’ or ‘tranny’] was the most frequently selected form of sexual harassment for men (17%), while it was the least for women (8%)” (source).
In 2016, Chai R. Feldblum & Victoria A. Lipnic published “Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace,” in which they summarized results from several surveys, showing that LGBT respondents are sexually harassed at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts – one survey of LGBT persons found that 58% had “heard derogatory comments about sexual orientation and gender identity in their workplaces.”
According to a report published by UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, 27% of LGB respondents experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation in the five years preceding the survey, and for those folks who were out of the closet at work? That number jumped up to 38%.
For transgender folks, the likelihood of harassment is even higher. The Williams Institute report also stated “As recently as 2011, 78% of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported experiencing at least one form of harassment or mistreatment at work because of their gender identity; more specifically, 47% had been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention. Consistently, 70% of transgender respondents to a 2009 California survey and 67% of transgender respondents to a 2010 Utah survey reported experiencing employment discrimination because of their gender identity.”
A report from the National Center for Transgender Equality indicates that “Nearly half (47%) of [transgender] respondents have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. This included any experiences with ‘unwanted sexual contact, such as oral, genital, or anal contact, penetration, forced fondling, or rape.’”
Sexual harassment and sexual assault are atrocities that impact women and men – regardless of race, sexual orientation and even genitals. But men being mistreated doesn’t negate the fact that women are the victims of sexual harassment and assault situations more frequently, and if we reduce assaults against women, that creates a culture change that has a positive impact for men, too.
“A genuine male victim tends to feel sympathy for abused women & support their cause. The Victim, on the other hand, often says that women exaggerate or fabricate their claims of abuse or insists that men are abused just as much as women are”
While men being sexually harassed and assaulted is just as appalling as when it happens to women, bringing this up in every discussion about women’s experiences is dismissive and generally used to derail the conversation about women. Because we don’t want to talk about that, right? Because when we talk about women being assaulted, we’re obviously talking about ALL MEN. 🙄
NOT ALL MEN! It’s the cry that women hear as soon as this topic comes up (Yep, it’s time to hop up on the old soapbox, gals and gents). Countless conversations with men – open-minded men, great men who I’d never suspect of sexual harassment or assault – result in defensive, dismissive claims – Not All Men!! But when I talk to a man about these issues, it’s not because I think he’s part of the problem – I’m asking him to be part of the solution!
Tiktok influencer Prithika Chowdhury recently addressed this debate in a viral video (no longer available, but screenshots are provided in this article), by giving examples that she hopes viewers can relate to: “I take your hand and lead you to three doors. Two of the doors are safe, you’ll survive. However, if you open that one door, you’ll die. Gaining this knowledge, would you open a door? Possibly not… We go fishing together, and we find an alligator. Knowing that one alligator is there, would you still go fishing? No, you wouldn’t – you’d get the fuck out of there and find another spot. I hand you like 10 cheesecakes… You could get diabetes from that, but that’s not the point. Two of them are poisoned, but you know 80%? You’ll be perfectly fine. Would you still take a bit of one of the cheesecakes?”
“I don’t think you would,” Chowdhury continued. “See, it wasn’t ALL the doors, it was ENOUGH doors. It didn’t have to be every single alligator in the world – just that one alligator was enough for you to flee. It’s not ALL the cheesecakes, it’s ENOUGH cheesecakes!! And it’s NOT. ALL. MEN. It’s just too many men. It’s just enough men to be afraid of.”
“Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.”
A Tweet from @cassrattray pointed out: “Maybe it’s not all men, but it’s 3% away from being all women.”
You’re right. Not all men. But it’s enough men for most women to experience it, to learn to be cautious. Enough men to create fear, for girls to be taught to carry pepper spray, for women to be afraid to walk home alone at night, to be told how to dress. (If you’re interested in why that’s utter bullshit, check out this art exhibit that shows what women and girls were actually wearing when they were raped – and if you can look at those children’s sundresses without feeling something, you should renege on that contract you signed with the Devil because you’re soulless!)
“What Were You Wearing?”
Just like “but rape happens to men, too” serves to redirect the focus on female victims, “not all men” derails the conversation about the men that we’re actually talking about! And this is a derailment that women have faced for decades when trying to combat these tragedies.
“As early as 1985, author Joanna Russ expressed a familiar weariness in her feminist love story On Strike Against God: ‘…that not all men make more money than all women, only most; that not all men are rapists, only some; that not all men are promiscuous killers, only some; that not all men control Congress, the Presidency, the police, the army, industry, agriculture, law, science, medicine, architecture, and local government, only some’” (source).
Here’s some more information on how #NotAllMen is detrimental to the fight against sexual violence.
And while it’s #NotAllMen, the majority of perpetrators of sexual crimes ARE men. According to the NIJ, Special Report, Findings from the Violence Against Women Survey, most rape victims were attacked by men (99.6% of women and 85.2% of men). In 96% of child sexual abuse cases, the abuser is male (source). In 2010, “State and local law enforcement agencies made about 20,100 arrests for forcible rape in 2010. Females were 1% of these arrests” (source).
So how many men are actually rapists? Since as many as 75% of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported, and even more never seen a trial, let alone a conviction (97% of rapists never spend a single day in jail, source), it may be impossible to know. One study found that nearly one-quarter of Asian men (24%) confessed to “what’s classed in this study as ‘sexual violence with girlfriends or wives past and present’, or ‘partner rape.’”
According to the Order of the White Feather, “1 in 16 (6.5%) men are rapists[…] although other studies show as high as nearly 15% of 1 in 7 men.” In a Quora thread on this topic, Irish writer Eileen M. Gormley noted, “Only around 1% [of men in a University study] admitted raping or being willing to rape a woman. But around 33% said that they would do things to try to get a woman to change her mind after she said no, from pressuring her to getting her drunk. That’s rape. She said no, and trying to have sex with her after she said no is rape. But if you don’t use the word ‘rape,’ around a third of men admit they do this.”
Damn, that sounds like a lot of fucking dudes!! However, I subscribe to this philosophy: “While most rapists are male, most males are not rapists. Most ‘undetected’ rapists (those who have not been convicted or served time in jail) are repeat rapists who commit an average of six rapes each. Instead of using weapons, threats, or extreme physical force or violence, most undetected rapists premeditate their attacks, identify and isolate victims, and deliberately use only as much force as necessary, such as psychological weapons and alcohol.” (source).
According to RAINN, “Perpetrators of rape are often serial criminals.” They go on to share that 37% of suspected rape perpetrators referred to prosecutors “have at least one prior felony conviction,” while 10% have five or more. FIVE OR MORE! Yet, 52% “will be released—either because they posted bail or for other reasons—while awaiting trial.”
“In a study of 1,882 university men conducted in the Boston area, rapists were identified. These 120 undetected rapists were responsible for rapes. Of the 120 rapists, 44 had committed a single rape, while 76 (63% of them) were serial rapists who accounted for 439 of the 483 rapes. These 76 serial rapists had also committed more than 1,000 other crimes of violence, from nonpenetrating acts of sexual assault, to physical and sexual abuse of children, to battery of domestic partners. None of these undetected rapists had been prosecuted for these crimes” (source). Here’s some more information.
While I do believe that many men are prone to pressure a woman into sex, I personally hesitate to call that “rape,” though it can easily turn into it (and I completely respect the women and men who view it as rape because it’s your story, your experience, and that’s what matters. Your experience is valid, YOU are valid and valuable).
Now getting her drunk to lower her inhibitions and change her mind? That’s rape. Alcohol is “considered the #1 ‘date rape drug.’ When drugs and alcohol are involved, clear consent cannot be obtained. An intoxicated person cannot give consent” (source). Besides that, contrary to popular belief, 80% of female rape victims were not using drugs or alcohol at the time of their attack (source).
Also, note: “Sexual activity without consent is considered rape or other sexual assault” (source).
So, if sex without consent is rape (or assault), then the concept of nonconsensual sex is flawed because it doesn’t exist; it becomes something else. That also means that consensual sex doesn’t exist. It’s either SEX or RAPE.
OK, what is the fourth Dirty Little Secret?
So, we asked earlier – Does any person deserve to be treated like this?! The answer is FUCK NO. NO ONE DESERVES THIS TREATMENT!!
Every single person deserves dignity and respect on this level at a bare fucking minimum! “Rape is not miscommunication. It is a crime” (source).
Tragically, it’s a crime that has been so accepted in our society that we’ve been manipulated into believing this is normal (credit: Jayme).
If at least 33% of women are sexually assaulted by no more than 15% of men (source), that means 85%, a clear majority, are not rapists. Following that logic and those percentages, that would indicate that if 80% of women are sexually harassed, no more than 40% of men are doing the harassing.
But we stay silent. Women stay silent. Men stay silent. Why do we, the majority who know these behaviors are wrong, continue to stay silent?
On March 12, 2021, writer Clementine Ford offered an enlightening take: “The demands that we specify ‘not all men’ are misleading. What people really want to see attached to every discussion [about sexual harassment and assault] is the fawning acknowledgement that MOST men are wonderful and brilliant and would never ever hurt a woman or ignore abuse or not speak up. My friends, I’m sorry to say that this is a lie. Most men are in fact neutral and do prefer silence to challenging other men. Do you know why? Because in a lot of cases, MEN ARE ALSO SCARED OF OTHER MEN. They’re scared of men turning on them, abusing them, hurting them, ridiculing them, bullying them and even of being violent towards them. MEN ARE SCARED OF OTHER MEN. DEAL WITH THE FUCKING PROBLEM OF THIS.”
It’s easy for men to say this is a “women’s issue” so they don’t have to confront it, don’t have to do anything. But doing nothing is accepting things the way they are, staying silent is part of the problem. Where do you stand?
When you believe in something, stand up for it, even if everyone is sitting.”
What can you do?
It’s really no secret that sexual harassment and assault is a topic that we, as a society, are extremely uncomfortable with. But the longer we brush this under the rug, the longer it will continue to happen. I don’t want to comfort my granddaughter after a guy at school groped her, forced himself on her. Enough is enough, and it starts by acknowledging:
Sexism, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape – they’re all perpetuated by silence! Rape is not a four-letter word! Now, I don’t mean that rape isn’t dirty, offensive, and something horrible to hear about, let alone to live through – instead, I mean that it’s something we need to stop being afraid to say. Of course, there are instances where the fear to speak out about rape is caused by actual danger, and in those cases, safety takes precedence; however, many women (and men) do not report instances of rape because they are ashamed. They’re ashamed that they’ve been victimized.
What other crimes elicit such an illogical response ? If a drunk driver smashes into your car, are you ashamed? Would you feel guilty if a stranger broke into your house, destroyed your TV, gave you a black eye, and stole your car? If he also raped your wife, would you blame her?
Not all men are actual rapists. Some are rape apologists. Some tell rape jokes. Some are victim blamers. Some are silent.”
“Through action, man becomes a hero.”
I truly believe MOST people in this world, male and female, are disgusted by the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, but fear prevents many of us from saying something. It’s time to break the silence, to speak up, to speak out. It’s time to effect change and to create a better world for our children and future generations. Let that be our legacy.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
It starts with the little stuff, the sexist comments which lead to rape culture. “One of the fundamental concepts at the heart of ‘rape culture’ is the idea that rape is inevitable, men can’t help themselves, and women must therefore work to protect themselves against it. Within the context of rape culture, the idea that men are entitled to sexual experiences is deeply entrenched. The UN researchers found that this attitude is pervasive among the rapists they surveyed. Among the men who acknowledged they had sexually assaulted someone else, more than 70 percent of them said they did it because of ‘sexual entitlement.’ Forty percent said they were angry or wanted to punish the woman. About half of the men said they did not feel guilty” (source).
Educate yourself about the different ways that sexism and misogyny lead to harassment, assault and rape. And then – Open. Your. Mouth. Call it out, shut it down, REPORT IT – but do something.
Victims of sexual harassment share common reactions to rape, though “each survivor copes differently.” Those reactions include guilt, shame, self-blame, fear (of their assailant and other people), a sense of vulnerability, avoidance, anger, mood swings, distrust, loss of control over their life, numbness, re-experiencing, and sexual concerns, including fear of intimacy (source).
Learn how to identify and combat unconscious bias and to combat it: These Companies Are Battling Sexual Harassment By Teaching Employees to Recognize Unconscious Bias. Better yet, take a course on Bystander Intervention Training.
Hire and promote more women because diversity in leadership has been proven to reduce sexual harassment (source). Ensure that your HR department is properly handling harassment claims: Women wary of reaching out to human resources or 10 Tips for Better Sexual Harassment Investigations. This article suggests, “A designated sexual harassment complaint form makes it easier for employees to file complaints and have their voice heard.”
This article offers a great (and comically accurate) way to prevent acts of sexual harassment: “It’s not complex, tricky or confusing, this issue of sexual harassment. Simply treat every woman you come across the way you would treat [Dwayne] Johnson. Would you put your hand on The Rock’s knee, massage his shoulders while talking about a work issue, ask him up to your hotel room, fondle his behind, lock the door from your desk or drop your pants and show him your junk? No? Congratulations, it’s #NotYouToo.”
Sexual Harassment Resources
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
Together, we can reduce sexism in the automotive and skilled labor trades industries – and beyond! And maybe someday, we can eliminate it altogether. Because we all deserve a world in which we’re valued for our contributions instead of our genders.
I’ll be 36 in June. I assume there was an age that I didn’t know sexism, harassment. The first time I remember a boy doing something inappropriate was first grade when a kid in class would climb under my desk and look up my dress. I learned to hate wearing dresses, a hatred that followed me for 20 years. The first time my body was objectified, I was 8. Unfortunately, I began to develop when I was quite young, so by the time I was 9 years old, I fully filled an A-cup bra and was already accustomed to answering questions about whether “they’re really real.” By that age, boys had groped me on multiple occasions. At 10, a grown man commented on my ass in the grocery store (my mother, who only heard half of what he said, nearly throttled him).
I learned that my body didn’t really belong to me. I learned that my truths would be questioned, doubted, over and over again. I learned that I could never be real enough. I learned to hide. Or rather I tried to hide, briefly.
In middle school, I went to the local Baptist private school where the kids were super cliquey. Again, the veracity of my body shop was questioned, and subsequently, my virginity. This was a trend that continued through middle school and high school. By then, I was angry, bitter, insecure, and overly sensitive. I lashed out constantly; I became a bully without even realizing it. My defense mechanism was “BITCH” & those caps are there for a reason. I made decisions to spite people way more frequently than I currently care to admit. That worked out in my benefit in many ways, though. I refused to give into peer pressure to drink and do drugs – not to say that I was completely straight-edge, but I did what I did on my time.
At my job during high school, I worked at a retail store with high traffic. Which meant that a lot of men had access to me, and there was a time when I saw it as a compliment, like many young girls do. When I was 17, a 26-year-old man took me to the movies, left flowers on my car. A 31-year-old man told me “age ain’t nothing but a number baby;” my rebuttal: “It’s a number that’ll get you 5-10.” (I didn’t know then how few rapists are actually convicted).
At 17, I made the mistake of going to an older guy’s house to watch a movie. I think he was around 21? Making out got intense, and he tried to undress me. I resisted, and he intensified his efforts. No clue what came over me, but I took my shirt off & said, “Well, go get a condom!” And as he ran into his room, I RAN my ass out of that house & had my truck in reverse before his screen door closed.
Because I was constantly accused of being a whore, a slut, a skank, I was a virgin when I graduated high school (at least, I was a virgin as I then understood the antiquated term, which is to say that a penis had not penetrated my vagina). I was two days shy of my 18th birthday when I “gave it up” to a long-term friend. It wasn’t romantic; it was transactional. As in, he’d been wanting to sleep with me, and I figured it was better to lose it to him than to go to college and get raped or drunkenly sleep with a rando. I was starting to understand.
I made a lot of mistakes and missteps in my twenties as I tried to figure out who I was and who I wanted to become. I disrespected my body sexually and health-wise, gaining over 70 pounds from age 18 to 30. Even at my heaviest, I’ve had men sexually harass and assault me. In fact, I weighed an unhealthy 200 pounds when I was violated by a man that I’d been friends with for a decade.
I’ve had random men grab my breasts, push their dicks up against me, even try to stick their hands down my pants. It’s happened when I was sweaty from working out, when I was with friends and alone, when I was all dolled up (though actually, that’s when it seems to happen less frequently for me), even when I had my hair in foils outside the beauty salon, inhaling a cigarette. Ugh.
Since I began working on this project with Jayme, I’ve had several disturbing encounters with men (and I’ve seriously been working like 80 hours a week and barely even responding to texts, as most of my loved ones can attest). But one stands out in particular.
On March 10th: I received a text from a random number (semi-local, from the next state over) that said “chasidy…” I responded, “May I ask who this is?” Then I received this (line breaks removed):
“sure… as odd as it may sound, i saw your okcupid profile, put 2 & 2 together, found your facebook profile, messaged you on messenger, and also here (since this # was on your facebook profile). now, if all that wasn’t too creepy… bear with me, for this is a bit difficult. *deep breath* i have a friend, and we’ve been talking for a while, and she recently confided in me that she’s finally ready to fulfill one of her fantasies: a threesome. she’s never done this before, but she loves your profile, as do i (you’re obviously intelligent, charming, vivacious, engaging, cultured, in possession of great tastes, open minded), and we find you absolutely gorgeous, so she wanted me to ask you if this is something that might interest you… ? if that was all a bit too much, and you feel “stalked”, then i profusely apologize, and will completely understand and respect your decision to end this now.”
I did not take this gentleman up on his offer, but I also didn’t serve up the verbal abuse that he truly deserved. Why? Well, this crazy mu’fucker stalked me out from a name and a picture on a dating profile. My name is not common, I get it, but that’s just creepy. And then to reach out to me on Facebook, and then he proceeded to my business page or website where he obtained my cell phone number (note: these are places I share my phone number for business purposes, not for social purposes. Socially, if I want you to have my phone number, I’ll give it to you). So how hard would it be for him to find me, assuming he doesn’t already have my address? Look – yes, I WILL shoot a twatwaffle coming up on my property with ill-intent, but I don’t WANT to be put in that position!
And I don’t want my children or your children to ever be put in that position either. I don’t want there to be a need for any more women or men to share #metoo.
Who We Be
Jayme and Chasidy are the HBICs (Head Bitch in Charge) of Femcanic Garage and Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications, respectively.
Femcanic Garage is “a community of like-minded women in the skilled-trades, automotive, and motorsports industries. Through our shared accomplishments, careers, and dreams, we elevate and empower each other to realize our highest potential. Together, we strive to smash stereotypes and break barriers for women in the industry and evolve the world to see us as the leaders that we are.” To Jayme, Femcanic is all about “creating a global space for women in this industry, an industry a lot of women love.”
Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications is a freelance writing operation that provides content and copywriting, predominantly to the automotive and collision repair industries.
What’s This Got to Do with Either of Us Anyway?
Feminism is not a dirty word, though the stigma against it makes me hesitant to type it, reluctant to own the label – even though I’ve always believed in equality. But I’m not ashamed to be a feminist; I am who I am, and. I am someone who believes in equality, someone who is wholeheartedly convinced that my genitals do not prevent me from being who I want to be – and that includes pursuing the career, hobbies or anything else I so choose. I AM a feminist.
Feminism is not a dirty word, though the stigma against it makes me hesitant to type it, reluctant to own the label – even though I’ve always believed in equality. But I’m not ashamed to be a feminist; I am who I am, and. I am someone who believes in equality, someone who is wholeheartedly convinced that my genitals do not prevent me from being who I want to be – and that includes pursuing the career, hobbies or anything else I so choose. I AM a feminist.
Feminism (noun): belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests (source).
Note how it says equality, rather than subjugation. Feminists aren’t trying to become the ruling gender; leaders should be elected based on knowledge and skills, including interpersonal “soft” skills, rather than on whether they have a penis or a vagina.
But here’s another perspective on what feminism COULD mean – if gender equality is embraced.
In an industry that accepts women’s equality and promotes diversity, women will no longer feel pressured to become one of the guys to fit in. Each woman will be able to “stop trying to be a second-class man and be a first-class woman.”
Women will be able to own the fact that, yes, we are women, and yes, we are a minority in this industry – but we won’t have to try to be anything other than the woman each of us already is.
What if being a feminist simply meant embracing and falling in love with your own version of femininity? There’s a gentleness that’s often inherent in women, and tragically, it’s frequently suppressed in male-dominated industries where to be a woman is to be “less than.”
But being a woman is a gift, and that softness is part of what makes women so special. Being a badass in the shop doesn’t have to prevent you from showing your heart of gold – and that also applies to men. Men are allowed to have – and express – emotions, too!
Why We’re in Your Face
Inequality hurts ALL people – men, women, black, white, LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual), or heterosexual. It sets up a system where everyone is told what they can do, who they can be, how high they can reach.
So why is no one talking about it? Sure, some people don’t recognize it’s even happening, especially people who’ve never experienced or witnessed it – after all, how do you explain color to the blind, right?
But there’s a larger reason: FEAR. We (as individuals, as women and as people in general) are afraid. We’re afraid of how we’ll be perceived if we call out bad behavior, if we set standards for how we’ll be treated, if we demand equality.
And we’re afraid for good reason. The history books are full of martyrs who stood up for what was right – only to be knocked down and persecuted. No one wants to lose their career because they “can’t take a joke.” Never mind that the joke stopped being funny long ago.
“All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.”
We need to leave our comfort zones - it’s time to BREAK THE SILENCE!
However, that can only happen when women in the industry collectively step into their true and authentic selves, and if WE are too afraid to do it, how can we ask anyone else to take that step?
This series is very personal, for both of us. While planning and laboring over this series, Jayme and I had numerous conversations. We talked through the risks, the fears, the comedy, and the tragedy of it all. The hardest discussion, though, was trying to identify our WHY.
Why ARE we doing this? Why did two busy women (with careers, side hustles, households to support, and occasionally social lives) decide to take time out of their already-hectic lives to research, interview, create graphics, sit on video calls for hours on end, and create content that has caused stress, anxiety, discomfort, lost sleep, tears, nausea… It’d be so much easier to relax on the couch and watch a sitcom!
Jayme’s reason boiled down to this:
My children are the reason for everything I do. As the mother of a son and a daughter, my ultimate purpose is to do what I can to create a world that is safer, better, for them to live in. My job is to protect them, and though I can’t control everything, I need to do what is possible.
The thought of someone treating my child (or anyone I love) in the way that these women have been treated – the idea of them going through that – is unimaginable. This is something I can do.
These topics are still grossly taboo, and the needle needs to move. I can use my community, my skills, my network, my voice, and my passion to do my part – to try to make a difference. This is something I can do.
I’ve dealt with and seen these issues my entire career, and I’ll be damned if my children have to go through the same thing; it’s one thing to hurt me, but it’s another entirely if you hurt my child. But speaking up against injustice sets the right example for my kids. This is something I can do.
Maybe, just maybe, by using my platform, my voice, I can help a woman. Help her prevent a situation or help her understand how to confront it. Maybe this series helps a man understand that the most dangerous thing is silence, and he becomes an ally, speaking up against those other men AND women who verbalize their misogyny. This is something WE can do.
For me, this is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while – not just in the automotive industry but in general. It’s something I’ve dealt with my entire life – being told what I could do, how to act, what to say, how to dress, how to look, and so on (and on, and on, and on…since 1985).
Like Jayme said, you can hurt me, but there will be hell to pay if you hurt my child. I am not a mother, but I have many children who I consider “mine:” nephews and nieces, a bonus kid, and 14 godchildren, 11 of whom are girls.
A thing happened a couple years ago to one of them. A thing that has happened to many women, and I’ve always known it lurking possibility, even when I was a girl. And though I’m not ready to go into detail, #metoo.
But it felt different when it happened to one of my girls. To find out that a man had put his hands on a child that I consider MINE to protect – twice. A 7-year-old girl, later a 13-year-old girl. A child. My child.
I’ve never felt so much despair, so SO much despair. So helpless, hopeless. Why wasn’t I there? Or her mother, father, grandmother, brother, preacher, teacher, anyone else – why was she alone with a predator?
Then, I got scared. There are well over two dozen girls in my life – my bonus daughter, goddaughters, nieces, friend’s children, etc… Statistically, that means that at least four of them will have the same experience in their lifetime (source). How can that be the world we live in?
Finally, I got angry. And I’ve stayed angry as I’ve watched repeated assaults on equality, on women, on friends, on strangers. As my girls have told me about boys groping them at school, about teachers demeaning them, about men in their 30s and 40s asking teenagers on dates.
I’ve struggled to compose my thoughts, to express this, to speak with my voice. I’ve never had such a hard time writing something, but I’m so glad that Jayme and I decided to collaborate on this. It’s scary, but her courage strengthens me.
For the first time in years, I feel like my voice could possibly do some good; I don’t feel helpless or hopeless. I feel empowered. And I hope you will too.
For too long, we’ve all been waiting – waiting for change, for progress, for permission, for leaders in the automotive industry (and in the world) to finally say, “Enough is enough!”
We’re ready for change NOW – change that benefits women, men, boys and girls – change that will make a better future for all of our children. We are stronger together.
We hope that, through Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive and Skills Trades Industries, we can provide women and men alike with the strength to give themselves permission and to find the courage to share their stories. We can make this industry a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place for everyone. This is something we can all do, together.
With hope and faith in a better future,
Chasidy & Jayme
*The views and opinions expressed in this blog series, Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive & Skilled Trades Industries, are solely those of the authors, Jayme Blasiman and Chasidy Rae Sisk, and do not reflect the views, opinions or policies of any past, present or future employer, client or any other organization with which Jayme or Chasidy are affiliated.
**Identities of contributing professionals have been concealed to protect the innocent and subsequently the guilty. Provided ages are approximate.
***References to all individuals, organizations or concepts in this series are done provided for informational purposes only. You should not rely upon any information or materials on these pages in making or refraining from making any specific business decision or other decisions. In most cases, we have no affiliation with those mentioned, but in all cases, no compensatory arrangement was made for the reference. Actually, we’re hoping they aren’t mad that we mentioned them! While we believe that the resources, individuals and organizations represent the traits that we admire, that belief is limited to our experience and exposure to them. We take no responsibility or liability for the conduct or content of those entities, their sites, or any offerings made. Additionally, we make no warranty regarding any transactions, products or services executed through or by a third party. All such transactions are conducted entirely at your own risk. Any warranty provided in connection with any of these third party’s offerings or services will be solely provided through said third party, not through Femcanic Garage or Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications, LLC.
These are my gut reactions and the part of this collaboration that has given me the most hesitation. I rarely write in my voice – my projects require providing an objective viewpoint or assuming someone else’s voice, so I do my best to avoid interjecting myself into the story. That is not the case in Dirty Little Secrets… you’ll find glimpses of me throughout these blogs; however, these are overt interjections that are me at my rawest, most unfiltered and least PC. They are the thoughts you’d normally only be privy to if we were kicked back on my couch with a glass of wine in hand. So the professional in me apologizes, but the woman who believes in equality – well, she knows that my embarrassment is worthwhile if it makes just one person second-guess a previously unfair practice. Thank you for tolerating my snark.
This creepy customer comes around and flirts with our service writer. Once, he commented on what a nice ass she had…it was weird. Thank God he still thinks I’m a guy – due to my hair being tied up and my rather scrawny figure!
I was told that I could be a problem because of sexual harassment. OMFG, I am a freakin’ grandmother!! But if the MEN are the ones causing the harassment, doesn’t that reflect more on them than the women they harass??
The lead painter would bipolar his way between professing his love for me and creepily noticing all my physical traits, to lashing out and criticizing my errors to everyone. I was on eggshells. Everyone thought we were sleeping together< despite my clear hatred of him. I just did my job so I could learn and get the fuck out of there, rather than punch him in the face every day. I’m in a better place now.
I had a supervisor rub my shoulders while I was filling out notes on a repair order. He said, “You feel good but could feel better.” I was one of several calls that went into our local labor board, and he was fired for a whole host of unbelievable behaviors. I didn’t feel safe; if those calls hadn’t worked, I wasn’t sure what else I was going to do, except go somewhere else, but I still needed to get my apprenticeship paperwork.
So, just because we like substantiating all the information we’ve provided, we wanted to provide some rapey-ass quotes from real men, some of whom you’ve probably heard of, that demonstrate the monsters behind the statistics. These are the men that cause women to clutch their keys and walk faster when they notice a man in the parking lot. These are the men who make women fear the good guys, too.
Guys, we know you have questions – cheers 🥂 to that infamous female intuition! – so we’re going to take a stab at answering them here.
If the jobs are there, what’s stopping women from applying for them? That’s why we’re here – the dirtiest little secret of all. But it’s not really all that secret, is it? They are the buzzwords everywhere; they’re needed in every industry. Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. These are scary thoughts, but we promise to take it slow and break it down.
Diversity is just variety, and a little change never hurt anyone, right? Right. Equity means fair and impartial, easy enough. OK, and here’s the big one that we get stuck on. Inclusion is equal access to opportunities and resources. That’s it.
And let’s clear up one common misconception that’s pretty irking:
Well, my company has this covered – we hire women, and we treat our girls right! (+1 cool point if you recognize the subliminal sexism in this statement!)
You’re in the majority in that assumption. In fact, only 78% of men in the automotive industry believe that a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion “prevent people from considering a career in the automotive industry;” however, 64% of women disagree, making this the most common explanation they see for a lack of interest in automotive – more prohibitive than income, promotion opportunities, or any other dissuading factor (source).
But that’s just the perception, not the reality! She would tell me if…
If you’re still having doubts that you should be concerned about this issue, check out these stats:
When asked if they would stay in automotive if they were starting their career today, 45% of surveyed women said they would choose a different path (source). And unfortunately, she probably wouldn’t tell you if she’s uncomfortable or facing discrimination – although 90% of women indicate the industry’s bias towards men negatively impacts diversity (source), few women talk about the misogyny and sexism they’ve faced because they fear repercussions – demotions, unpleasant assignments or treatment, even job loss.
But if she talked, we’d listen. She just has to speak up!
Even speaking up can be an issue in the male-female dynamic. Women who express their discontent are generally dismissed, especially in situations when they are outnumbered by men.
Best case scenario: we’re accused of being emotional, bossy, too aggressive.
Worst case scenario: we are called a bitch, told to go bleed, even physically assaulted.
I’m feeling attacked here.
Welcome to our world! But seriously, buddy, we don’t think you’re a bad guy (????but if you ARE a misogynistic ass – fight me, my dude ????). Honestly, you’re probably a great friend, loving partner/parent, and maybe you even genuinely respect the women in your life. But you can’t know what you don’t know – you haven’t experienced the pains of being a woman any more than women have experienced the pain of being kicked in the ‘nads.
But seriously, aren’t things better? Have we made progress on equality? Sure! Thankfully, things ARE better than they were 50 years ago, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago.
But does that mean the problem is gone? Not yet.
If you install one or two tires on a car, how far will it go? Not very – but luckily, the automotive and skilled labor trades industries are pretty accustomed to constant technological advances, so we believe that you can translate that same diligence to social advances!
Welcome to the adventure!