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Here I am, a woman.

The interview began when he called me a pretty girl but wondered aloud if I were actually intelligent. He held a large, juicy, green apple in his hand. He took a large bite and I could hear him chewing. My one-on-one, life-changing meeting with the CEO of one of Africa’s premier peace organizations began like such and ended with a question only a man of his status could ask: “Have you put on weight? I can see it in your face.”
“You can see it in my face? The…weight?”
“Yes, I can see it in your face.”
This interview, this opportunity, this promotion that would emancipate me as an African woman, was never actually going to happen. This man saw me as a gossip-mongering, must-be-kicked-down, woman. Gasping for air I looked down at the table. It was not appropriate to tell him that as a women, my face might appear swollen due to the tearing of the lining of my uterus…once a month…every month. Not appropriate, not professional. No, nor could I tell him that not once in my life had I ever thought I was fat until now. But he seemed to think he could tell me. He turned towards the window, his teeth munching, gnawing on the apple’s core.
The apple was large and juicy when I had walked in, now it was just bones.
“I eat the seeds,’ he told me conspiratorially, ‘I eat the whole apple.’
I nodded and held his gaze. It is always an effort to control the fire inside me but now, I thought, at what cost? How many more insults will I allow to keep my job and my family alive? And more than that, fires are controlled out of respect – in this room there was none.
My thoughts matched the crunch of the apple, the suction of spit on the core a drain unclogging my mind.
Turning to me he leaned back, ‘You are a wild horse that needs to be tamed.’
All the doors closed.The miracle happened when I got up, walked towards the door to my freedom, opened it myself and walked out.

Comments

busayo's picture

You are courageous

I really like your courage and the strenght to move on, welcome to pulsewire community, a place of love and opprtunities to raise your voice on issues that concerns you and others. When one is closed, other is open. wishing you all the best.

Love and Regards
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

ruth_terry's picture

Good for you!

Hi Bhavya,

I really appreciated all the details of this story--the apple, the sound of sucking saliva. It's so interesting how during some of the biggest, most pivotal moments in life, our minds alternate between the Big Decision before us, and these minute details.

Good for you for making the right choice!

Ruth

"A writer’s job is to tell stories that connect readers to all the people on earth... Passionate and well-articulated ideas can and do change the world." ~~Mary Pipher

Bhavya's picture

Thank you :-)

Thank you for your comments :) I really appreciate the feedback. My story was an emotional experience for me and what made it so difficult is that the CEO told me during the course of the meeting that he 'hopes I don't cry about this to some girlfriend.' I felt trapped in my own skin and scared to speak out. When i posted my story on world pulse I felt relieved that I could actually speak out and not be punished for it.

Amei's picture

Emotional experiences are hard to express...

Well done Bhavya. I am sensing how light I feel after sharing some of my experiences here. I too feel safe here. Though I am telling the whole world. Keep writing and we all move on together.

Cheers, Amei

Sharese's picture

Wow!

You go girl. For real! This is a tale that (unfortunately) is not a stretch of my imagination to believe. The institutionalized sexism that exists on all levels of the world- from profit mongering to peace organizations (!) is something that is largely ignored.

Thank you for shedding light on this and THANK YOU for being strong and not just apathetically allowing this discrimination happen to you!

I look forward to reading more about your experiences and your journey.

Much Peace,

Sharese

curvesalish2's picture

Thank you

Your story is powerful. It is amazing the way people react when they feel threatened... threatened by another's honesty, courageousness, or even someone's respect for individuals and humanity alike. What happened after the interview?

I'm sure that by sharing your story you have encouraged others to take action by making decisions that are best for them. Congratulations
-Caitlin

Bhavya's picture

Thank you for all the

Thank you for all the encouraging comments. I am still affected by this incident and there are times when I wish were the sort of person where insults roll off your back. Instead, I take comments like this to heart. But I am working to get out of this perpetual negativity that consumes my head.
I hope others who read my story will decide never to let themselves get into a situation like this.

This very personal story is told with so much detail that EVERY woman who has had to sit in a room and endure such a meeting (and who hasn't?) can relate to it. This is a beautiful tale of the courage and strength it takes to walk away when, in spite of our need to care for ourselves and our families, we can no longer allow others to mistreat us. Thank you for your story.
I hope you recognize your own strength and courage and can let this incident be a lesson in that strength and courage, rather than letting it bring you down.

Debra

Beverly Rose's picture

Dear Bhavya, First of all,

Dear Bhavya,

First of all, thank you for sharing your story. and thank you for being so courageous to stand up and say 'no more!'.

Your 'interview' was deplorable enough, but the fact that he was part of a 'peace' organization added another layer of insult. It reminded me of an 'interview' I had many years ago (I think I was in my early 20s) and had applied for an adminsitrative job. The 'boss' took great pains to ensure that I was a good person - he even had my handwriting analyzed. During the interview, he started to pull the zipper down on my dress, I was appaled and horrified, and also walked out. I can only imagine how you felt.

May you continue to speak your truth and share with your global family. I am certain that your actions will not be in vain.

love and aloha,
Beverly

Beverly Rose's picture

Dear Bhavya, First of all,

Dear Bhavya,

First of all, thank you for sharing your story. and thank you for being so courageous to stand up and say 'no more!'.

Your 'interview' was deplorable enough, but the fact that he was part of a 'peace' organization added another layer of insult. It reminded me of an 'interview' I had many years ago (I think I was in my early 20s) and had applied for an adminsitrative job. The 'boss' took great pains to ensure that I was a good person - he even had my handwriting analyzed. During the interview, he started to pull the zipper down on my dress, I was appaled and horrified, and also walked out. I can only imagine how you felt.

May you continue to speak your truth and share with your global family. I am certain that your actions will not be in vain.

love and aloha,
Beverly

Bhavya's picture

Beverley

Dear Beverley

That is appalling! I am so sorry you had to go through an ordeal like that. When we are young we want to impress our superiors. Sometimes we aren't aware of how far people in powerful places can manipulate us before we say no.
Your story is truly powerful. Thank you for sharing it in this forum.

Widowsunite's picture

Dear Bhavya,

Thank you for sharing such an emotional experience with us. So many women all over the world have gone through similiar experiences with bosses who manipulate and control their life. These women just keep QUIET either because of economic or social reasons. We need to have more women TALKING about harassment they have gone through.The very reason I joined the forum to have the courage to voice my opinion and to have the strength to empower other women in similiar situations.

Incidently my daughters name is Bhavya and I want her to have the courage you have shown. Thank you for sharing with us.

Bhavya's picture

Beverley

Thank you for the support. I am young and I have become so cynical about the workplace and the needless hierarchical systems in place. It is deathly to say no in such environments and sometimes we become yes people in order to survive.
I'm someone who says yes because i don't see hierarchy and i never used to see the harm in doing things for others. Now I've learnt to be prudent. I've learnt I need to be in an environment where i am treated as an equal. I've decided to go back to study to do my masters. I want to be in an environment where i will be challenged by my peers, expected to reach for the stars and praised for achieving. I don't want to be a cog in management's wheel.

Bhavya's picture

Widowsunite

Your daughter's name is Bhavya! That is so cool. Seriously. It's not a common name so I'm very excited. I only know one other Bhavya and she lives in Australia.
With a mom like you, I am sure your daughter is already a confident and courageous individual!

I joined this site and wrote about my experience because i had nowhere else to turn. I didn't think anyone would believe what i had gone through. I thought i was so stupid because i sat in that interview and took everything he said and he told me i was stupid. I let him speak to me that way because he was the head honcho and I was nothing, therefore, If i was nothing why would anyone believe me...
As soon as that thought came to me, I knew I had gone through some sort of verbal abuse.
I had been involved with worldpulse as a judge for the voices of our future competition last year october and i remembered what abuse meant to those women and how writing about their experience was a therapy for them. they had told no one besides this online community and, the community rose and supported them.
I have been amazed at the support i have received and I thank you.

CindyColes's picture

Wow

Hi Bhavya,

I love your writing! I felt I was in the room with you.

I could relate to every nuance of your scene. I have also been in that moment where I decide this isn't worth it.

Your courage is inspiring.

Cindy Coles

FAHMIDA YESMINE's picture

You are Great!!!!

Dear,

You have just wonderfully described your brave and courage to stand up!!!! This is so powerful.

I love the way you shared your experience with all of us,

All the best.

Fahmida
Bangladesh.

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