Let's Talk: Personal Boundaries, Safety & Women in Journalism
AZMAT KHAN, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST
Sarah Stillman: I was thinking we could just start by talking about some of what has made you feel most alive as a reporter, some of what draws you towards the field, some of the stuff that you love about the job.
Azmat Khan: I love getting local. I love going abroad to a place that I knew some things about, and then quickly having those things that I thought I knew unravel, and recreating or understanding local communities in this very detailed context, and being able to meet people or understand them on a level that I didn't before is probably one of the most powerful things you can do. It's one thing to study a place from afar, and then, to get there, and to start putting it together and understand why things happen and study the history on the ground, and talk to people, it's like you're solving a puzzle, but there's no one answer. It's just lots to learn.
Sarah Stillman: And you've done that in such a wide range of contexts, which I think is really remarkable about your reporting both foreign and domestic. I thought I'd transition into a question we've been asking everyone, which is about sexual harassment, and a really simple question, which is how do you define sexual harassment for yourself.
Azmat Khan: It's unwanted behaviors that can be sexual in nature. They can also be rooted in power dynamics, in gender dynamics, in ways that are intentional, and then, in ways that can also be unwitting, where the perpetrator or person who's doing this has no idea that they are sexually harassing you, but they're doing it, and it's rooted in something that can feel incredibly belittling, that can feel demeaning, and can really bring a person down in ways that maybe the person doing it doesn't quite understand.
Sarah Stillman: That's an interesting dimension about the idea that people who are the perpetrators of that kind of behavior may not always understand that that's going on. I'm wondering if you might feel comfortable sharing some experiences with that, if you've had any personally or you feel comfortable talking about it more broadly.
Azmat Khan: It's really run the gamut from things that are seemingly innocuous. Two months ago, someone I was working with on the ground in Iraq kept calling me sweetie, repeatedly, no matter how many times I told him to stop. But then it can get really serious. I remember in Pakistan I was in an area that's really conservative, near the tribal areas, with a local translator whom I was working with, and he kept putting me in these positions that I knew were incredibly inappropriate in the circumstances we were in... that put me in a really dangerous position given the other people that were there, what was happening, and it was the kind of thing that I knew he had done, and I had to so delicately approach the situation, because it was creating a circumstance, where if he did something, I couldn't shout. I wouldn't be able to fight back, I wouldn't be able to make it stop without landing in prison myself, in that kind of a situation, given where we were, and so that was probably the scariest one, because my life or my safety was in his hands.
He was the one taking me to this place, and insulting him. That's the line, right? I've often found the most difficult situations are the ones in which I'm dependent on someone else for something, and the answer in my head is of course, shout at him, tell him no, explain why this is wrong, but I don't want to incur the blowback that comes with it, or the lack of safety I will have to take that kind of approach and response, and there's a very careful line you have to walk where you have to pretend you don't know what's happening, but simultaneously, get what you want out of that situation...and make sure that you're safe and all of these sorts of things. I've been so fortunate not to have had a physical experience while reporting.
I've had moments that are similar to the one I just described to you where it's this terrible feeling of trying to figure out how do I keep this relationship working because I'm alone with this person and I'm dependent on them for my safety in many ways. How do I make sure that that doesn't result in something that further compromises my safety if I confront them?
Sarah Stillman: That's really powerful and disturbing, and I think you illustrate so well in that story the idea of stakes and how the conversation looks really different when the stakes are as high as those. So I'm wondering if you can talk us through how you responded in that incidence, if there are points where you might actually decide that those stakes aren't worth it, and you're actually gonna call it quits altogether.
Azmat Khan: Absolutely. In this case, I couldn't call it quits. We'd come in his car, there's no way for a woman to travel alone in these places, everything about it was really difficult, but what I found to work in that situation is something I found to work often, and it's depressing that this works, and I wish this wasn't the strategy I have to adopt, but I've often found that blaming a man, like some other man, some man above me, my boss, my editor, somebody else, "Listen, they really are making me do this. They want me to have my own room for X reason or Y reason. I don't understand why he wants this, but I can't disagree with him."
So, basically, make it seem like I'm not disagreeing with him, somebody else above me is. Some man above me is, and I found that that is less confrontational towards their egos. I found it works a lot, you know, as though I'm just at the mercy of some man, and this is what I have to do. I can't fight back. That's just the way it is. It has to be that way, and it works, but I don't like telling people that. There's discomfort in owning up to that fact, that you're essentially playing a victim to some editor who's perfectly lovely, and quite a wonderful person to work with, but to use that to be sympathetic, or to get what you want in a situation where you feel that your safety is, that you're unsafe.
Sarah Stillman: You mentioned another example, which was just someone calling you sweetie. How did you handle that, or how would you think about handling that if it happened again in the future?
Azmat Khan: When it happened, I said, "My name is Azmat. Don't call me sweetie," and I remember somebody else we were working with found that so funny, he laughed, and then, I was offended by both of them, but it was the kind of thing where I thought that if I reported it to others up their chain of command, it would just look petty and stupid and that maybe they wouldn't commission stories from me again, that I looked like I couldn't get along with people, and it is small enough that it's not so pervasive, but I just made it clear repeatedly that every time he said it or did it, I'd repeat "That's not my name. Call me by my name," to the point where eventually he stopped, and sure, maybe I seemed difficult, but I just didn't care.
Sarah Stillman: It's interesting you mentioned that fear of seeming difficult, because I wonder if there are ways in which being a freelancer or worrying about not getting assignments because of fighting back against this behavior ever plays into your thinking, and maybe you can talk a little bit about what it's like having done freelance work in this context, how it changes, or how it informs how you think.
Azmat Khan: Yeah. I think that there are ... I look for allies, or people at these organizations or places where I'd like to get work again who I think are cognizant of these sort of gender difficulties, and I try to get close to them, and I think that they have an understanding of situations, so that if anything were brought up like that, that person could ask me directly, and say, "I know Azmat well. Let me talk to her."
Again, I don't like these answers that I'm giving. It's just a difficult position. I think you're absolutely right to point out that when you're a freelancer and you’re less protected, that that fear is constantly in your mind, but what I do think about is there somebody else on the security staff or team that I can take out to dinner and befriend, or be incredibly kind to and have a good relationship with, so that if this other person, whom I repeatedly told not to call me sweetie or whatever it is says that I'm difficult, somebody else has a different experience to counter that with.
Then, there's a part of me that feels like I can't really be bothered by this. This is not important in the grand scheme of things, and in that case, I really didn't put that much work into protecting myself, or trying to establish a reputation or something that would be corrective to that narrative if it emerged, but I think if the stakes were higher, if the level of animosity was greater, maybe I would do more, but there really isn't anything you can do, without looking like you're complaining, and when you're not on staff, and there aren't formal procedures.
If you're going into a war zone and you're complaining about somebody calling you sweetie, you look like a real fool.
Sarah Stillman: If you were on the staff of one of these organizations, or if you were the editor-in-chief, or you were the person making the decisions, how might you think about handling that? Are there things you think you would do or implement? What would you do?
Azmat Khan: On a personal level, I would certainly talk to the person who was accused of having done it. I would try to disseminate policies or standards that made it clear that these sorts of situations aren't appropriate. One of the problems I have with a lot of workplaces is that sexual harassment training is this once a year checklist. It's a technical, bureaucratic thing that has to be fulfilled, and the situations or examples presented, while modernized to some extent, don't necessarily relate to the individuals that are taking this quiz on sexual harassment that they're forced to take. I can remember having workshops and quizzes at every place I've ever worked on sexual harassment, on what's appropriate behavior, and what's not, and most of the time, these are not situations that arose for me in my work.
So, to develop more realistic, maybe beyond the formalized legal bureaucracy of these processes, but for news organizations to collect these examples, that have happened in real life. Maybe anonymize them to some extent, and then, to provide those sorts of experiences and accounts in a way that people understand that it's not just ... I can picture perfectly all of the examples I remember of people in a cafeteria, coming to get coffee at the workplace and the break room, and somebody makes a comment to somebody else, and it's the type of thing that's very, again, this is so technical. It becomes about discriminated classes, or classes like age, sexual orientation, gender, race, that are protected, so these protected classes are these examples on which they base things, but the more subtle, or even specific scenarios aren't accounted for in a lot of these technical videos and trainings, and if there were a way for news organizations to get more specific to the experiences of the people who work there, I think the perpetrators would have a better understanding of what they're doing, and why it's not correct.
Sarah Stillman: As a reporter, you've gone through a lot these past years doing both domestic and foreign projects, and I wonder if there're ways that your practices have changed and evolved as you've learned and grown about, and confronted more and more of these issues. Maybe it would be helpful to take that in two steps, 'cause I'd love to hear how those challenges have been different, domestic and international, etc. a range within the international context. Maybe you could talk me through some of the different things you encounter in those different spaces.
Azmat Khan: In conflict reporting, I think part of it is just the local context of gender norms on the ground that come into play. What's appropriate behavior of a woman, what isn't, and I should know them, so that I don't inadvertently do something that is inappropriate or offensive, or results in a situation, whether it's animosity that would lead to my safety being a problem, where I would feel unsafe, so I think that comes up a lot. In a domestic sense, I'm trying to think, and I've reported a lot domestically, but I guess I think of it more in terms of managerial.
I think in the past few years, or more recently, I've tried to adopt a work lifestyle where I only work with people I really want to work with, so I try to bypass situations I wouldn't want to be in, and I know that's really hard, but I do think that it was one of the benefits of going independent or being a freelancer, that I just started applying for funding to make it somewhat sustainable, and didn't have that many requirements of people or workplaces to be in.
Beyond the other benefits of not having to attend meetings that take up a lot of time, but one of the benefits is I get to choose who I can work with, and that's been really empowering because I can work with people whom I think understand the exact things I'm talking about... So in some ways, while it's so much harder for freelancers, you're removed from a situation in which I think there could be a lot of the same blow back internally.
Sarah Stillman: That makes sense. First of all, to return to what you shared earlier, I just wanted to say that I'm very sorry that that happened, and it is so upsetting to think about and to hear about, and I was so pleased that you called me, so I'm shifting towards the strategies you've used for best practices. I think that's a great one, and I'm wondering what others might be, or if you could talk a little bit more about how you thought about reaching out to colleagues, 'cause I think you've been so tremendous at cultivating community around you of people who reflect your values, and I'm wondering if you could riff upon how that has helped you navigate some of these issues.
Azmat Khan: I think some of them are just practical tips that are like apps. There are technology-based tools you can use. There's an app I like to use called BurglarrAlarm. I think that's what it's called. I set my iPhone in front of a door of wherever I'm staying, and it's plugged in charging, and if the door opens, this giant alarm goes off that can only be turned off with my fingerprints. It's a silly thing. It just gives me peace of mind sometimes when I'm sleeping. I make sure when I'm traveling that the people I'm with know that other people know where I'm going, and what I'm doing at all times. I tend to have a constant stream of accessibility to others, so I might be on my phone, and just say, "Hold on, I'm just texting my sister," or, "I'm just talking to my editor," or, "I'm just talking to my reporting partner," and I make sure that these people I'm with know that I'm in frequent contact with others.
Sometimes, it's as simple as, if I'm gonna be in a big crowd, so an area where there's the possibility of people grabbing at you or something like that, but just to wear clothes that are layered and can't easily be torn.
I know a lot of news organizations have security teams that they'll work with who will develop their own standards for what you do, but I always make sure I have my own in addition to what I have to technically do, because I think, generally, it's because of insurance purposes that these news organizations have these security teams that are required to work with you when you're in a broader or any sort of place that might get dicey, that I have my own system, and that I push back when I think there's something they might be recommending that I don't think is safe.
This stuff isn't often gendered, but it can be, simply by nature of sometimes I'll tell a man or a guy that I'm working with to make this argument instead of me, because it may not be believed if it's me. Sometimes it isn't treated with the same sort of credibility as if it came from somebody who is seen as more powerful or has more authority or is a male.
Sarah Stillman: Are there any other best practices or tools or tactics you've developed over time that you think would be helpful to share. I'm thinking of a time when I was in Iraq, and I really needed to meet with this worker who was this Indian guy working at a Cinnabon, and he didn't get off his work position until midnight, and so, I was like, come to my ... His containerized housing unit, and we can do the interview then. I realized there was a massive cultural disconnect. What had happened was he showed up with a pizza and really thought we were having a date, so now, finding ways to make it verbally much more explicit, now that I've had that experience, and knowing that I will want to bring someone alone. Sometimes it's a male photographer with me, or have someone else there that shows ambiance wise, and also, verbally articulating exactly what it is and isn’t.
That's just one example. You've mentioned some really good ones too, like the app, telling people where you are.
Azmat Khan: There was a source who was so helpful, so kind, always treated me so well, and after I left Afghanistan, I got this stream of lewd messages from him, just outrageous. I couldn't believe it, and I remember, it wasn't just the shock of having it. It was like the one person that I was like, this person is different than all of the people I've worked with, and I remember that I had been so accessible and easy to talk to, and in this case distance, or ignoring that person, never responding to anything, except to tell them, "Listen, it's unacceptable to talk to me this way," but I started thinking about it more in the future, like to whom am I so accessible, that they think ...
I'm not to blame, certainly, but I think it did make me a bit more defensive, and it did also make me incredibly formal in a lot of my interactions, and it's funny, because I remember that when I'd apply for a job somewhere years ago, that I'd given some references for the job and the boss, the person who became my boss had called all my references, and I remember one of the people he called was a former boss of mine, and she called me to be like, "Hey, I just talked to him, and here's what he asked me. He told me that you were really formal in your interview, and that you seem to have a very formal approach, and he wondered does that work against you when you're reporting sometimes," and I was telling her why I think I'm so formal, and it stems from an episode, it happened like years earlier, where this person whom I had reached out to for an interview and had interviewed later on went to tell some other reporters that oh, yeah, she was really into me, and he just told this kind of gross story about it.
This was when I was really young. This was 2010, I think, and I remember that it did make me incredibly formal in all my interactions, and then, to have it not held against me, but have it be something that was like, "Hey, why is she so formal?" And it's something I do note in a lot of women is that they tend to be pretty formal in a lot of their reporting circumstances, probably for reasons like that. They have to be. For example, the situation you were describing to meet somebody for a meeting in the place you're staying. All of a sudden, you start designating these other places, and it does make me think about whether your managers or bosses think that you're less good at your job, because you're unable to strike up that kind of casual conversation that can lead to many great finds when you're a reporter.
Sarah Stillman: I'd love to talk about that in the context of some of the national security work you've done, 'cause I remember talking about how in that Washington world, showing up for drinks at a bar late at night is a thing that people do to build sources, and how do you navigate those engagements, given what you just said?
Azmat Khan: 100% get that. I think, for a long time, I thought that I could not ... That I wouldn't be able to succeed in that world of making lots of intel sources, not just because it would require meeting up at night over a drink, but just because I was so different from that world, that maybe if I looked different, or had a different name ... It happens a lot. So, maybe it could be in my head, but for awhile, I thought that world of reporting wasn't available to me, and not just that it wasn't available, but that I wouldn't want to pursue that part of things, and I think my way of getting beyond it is just to accept that I can get or meet sources in other ways, that there are other networks you can build, I think, my approach was how else can I get it besides this way? Is there something else that maybe works more with who I am as a person?
Sarah Stillman: Are there things that you've come to say or do when it comes to the initial outreach with sources that has helped you to establish boundaries?
Azmat Khan: I don't think that initially my approach is all that different. I think I do tend to take a pretty formal, like, "Hi, this is me. Here's what I'm doing. Here's what I'm really interested in about you. I'd love to have a conversation with you about X. Here's how you can reach me. If you want to read any of my stuff, it's here." But I do know that my default approach is formal. People tell me this all the time, that I do sound pretty formal. I don't know how to change that, and I don't think I will. I think you get more comfortable with people over time, and yeah, I think that's my default approach. I think maybe when I first started out, it was a lot more casual, and a few experiences made me just a little bit more careful.
Sometimes, I'll book an office or something like that to meet at, if we need privacy, and you can't always afford something like that, but sometimes, in hotels, you can book suites that have a separate office type of area, and so, I would go out of budget just to make sure that there was something like that, a private space to meet, that clearly looked like it was an office, and had somebody else there, because the second they see a bedroom or something like that, it brings a different vibe to things. I think I've done that before, or I'll call and I'll have room service, coffee and tea and drinks brought in frequently, and I'll say like come three times in this hour, so that there's constant knocks on the door.
I forgot that I do do that. What else? I tend to dress more conservatively when I'm meeting people. In the beginning, especially, just because. What else? I often ask about children. Like, "Do you have children? How old are they?" This sounds silly, but to know that they have a family, sometimes that's helpful. I don't, on principle, drop the whole, "My husband," or, "My boyfriend," any of those sorts of things, just because I actually don't want anybody to know about my private life, if that makes sense. That's more of a moral position, but I do think that can be incredibly helpful in those situations, but it's sad that that helps.
Sarah Stillman: I really like the advice about the hotel, having an office space, and having someone come in regularly. I haven't heard that before, and it's really, really insightful.
Azmat Khan: I'll say I need a fresh pot of tea. I need it to be hot. I won't tell them, explicitly, three times, but it will be apparent that they have to keep bringing fresh tea, so when they bring it the first time, I'll be like, "Actually, I'd like this as well," or, "I'd like that as well," and I send them back to go get it. And then, tip them generously.
Sarah Stillman: I wanted to shift, finally ... I don't want to keep you too long, but I really appreciated what you said about the idea of newsrooms circulating actual real anecdotes, and not just for the women who've experienced those things, but also for the people who are the perpetrators of those things. I'm hoping to talk about that for a minute. What could the profession, journalistic profession, and what could journalists themselves do to discourage unwanted behavior, and to place the onus on the perpetrators to take accountability for it.
Azmat Khan: Completely. I actually forgot to tell you, in that sweetie incident, one of the things I did was I tweeted about it, in a very generic way, which was, "How would you respond to somebody repeatedly calling you sweetie, even after you've told them to stop," and maybe in the back of my head, I hoped that the person who did it would see this tweet, and then, see the responses, which were aghast, and people were like, "Report him. I would tell him this. I would tell him why. Take it to HR." These were the responses, and I think it was more about him seeing that many people think this. It's not just me. I'm not crazy. It was the support of seeing many people believe this and here's why, because I truly don't think he thought he was doing anything offensive, because he did at one point explain it to me, and he did say, "I'm so sorry. I don't mean it this way. It's just something I say because I like somebody and care about them."
This is what he had said to me at the time, and so, in his view, it was this kind thing. In my view, it was diminishing, and belittling, and, frankly, embarrassing, and unnecessary, because I have a name, and he's not calling any of the men sweetie, so I remember tweeting it for that purpose. That was why, I think that having those real world examples are so important for the perpetrators or would be perpetrators, because oftentimes, they have no idea. They're not aware of the power dynamics these sorts of comments are steeped in. They may come from a background in which this was perfectly acceptable years before, within the workplace.
Just knowing, firsthand, that that could have resulted ... That out of 20 responses to this tweet, or however many there were, that almost all of them said report him to human resources, that that's what this could lead to, and to try to figure out why, and I really think that taking those real world examples and explaining them in those context is so important, and you can anonymize them. You can change identifying information and details, but I do think that a lot of times, when there are complaints, that those are kept hidden for personnel purposes, but to use them, because those are the exact situations that developed.
I have huge problems with the sexual harassment training industry, which I think has just become bureaucratized, and it's a money making enterprise, and it's a legal checklist. It's about checking a box on your insurance. It's about making sure that every employee has taken this quiz or has studied this thing, but it's not actual understanding, and it's not a real conversation, and it's not necessarily anything anyone sees beyond an obligation, something they have to do in order to get paid. Translating it into something that's real and works.
Sarah Stillman: Are there any other antidotes to that? Kind of HR, facile, sexual harassment training approach, that we can think about that you've used individually, or that we could think about communally and collectively as when a journalist is trying to push this issue forward, or as a journalist responsible for that.
Azmat Khan: I was recently on a panel with two other women who were talking about the strategies and what they do, and one of them, she says she uses humor constantly to make her points. She said she'd been walking with somebody, and he'd said, "Wow, big steps for such a small woman." Something like that, and she quipped back something that was hilariously biting. Maybe I'm not that quick, so my first response is not humor, but she made a really compelling case for why these sorts of humorous responses that can show them why they're being ridiculous, while simultaneously not bringing a confrontational approach to things can be helpful.
That's one thing. If you're witty and biting. Then, there are people who I think are more apt to turn to others for support, too, and have them talk to that person. Maybe they'll understand it more in that context, but I do think that attitudes and cultural opinions shift when they realize that the person is in the minority, that the person doing this stuff is in the minority viewpoint of whether or not this is acceptable, so part of it is just about them realizing, wow, I'm out of touch with what is acceptable and is appropriate.
Because maybe with their friends or with their social networks or the people whom they're around the most, this is the acceptable thing. The thing that they've said, maybe their response, when they talk to their friends, is, "Wow, she's out of control. PC culture has become so insane," etc. but to show how and why, and to show that that's outdated is so important.
Sarah Stillman: You mentioned tweeting. I don't want to keep you longer than I mentioned, but I will ask two more questions, if that's okay, and one is just about online harassment. I know, especially women of color are faced on Twitter or in other realms, even if you have the guts to read the comment sections, some online stories, what you face can be pretty intense, and I'm wondering if you have anything you want to share about that and any ways you think about dealing with that that have been productive or helpful for you.
Azmat Khan: I very rarely respond to trolls. The times that I think it becomes most intense or hard for me, it's when I tweet about Islam or Muslims, and I get a barrage of not always, but frequently, I'll get a barrage of just nasty comments. I remember one ... This is the one I think hurts the most. When people say, "You terrorist bitch," in response to things,... I don't think I deal with the most hateful of comments people get.
I think it was the Guardian that had once done a study of the comments of its writers who received the most hateful and trollish comments, and what they found was, these top 10 writers, many of them were people of color, were women who wrote about women, people of color who wrote about race or gay writers who wrote about LGBTQ issues, and it was when you expressed something personally that they had seen some of the most vitriolic responses, and so, I do think if I was writing about Islam every day, it would be even worse for me, but I think people at those intersections, and who are bringing their personal lives into it who get some of the worst of it.
So I'm in a comfortable position where I can ignore lots of it, and I don't know what I would do if that was all I saw, if there were these motivated campaigns targeting me. I don't know that I would feel as comfortable just ignoring it. A lot of times, I ignore it, unless I think there's a very teachable moment. Where it's the type of thing that maybe there isn't an explanation for why this is ridiculous, out in the public, and it's my job to respond, but rarely do I, 'cause I feel like it also encourages them, but I understand people who do both. Who ignore or spend a lot of their time combating that.
Sarah Stillman: Is there anything else you would want to share, particularly if you were to think about what you would want younger journalists to know, when it comes to navigating boundaries. You mentioned yourself as a younger person at various moments, what you'd faced five years go. I'm wondering if you could speak to that, or anything else you wanted to close out with.
Azmat Khan: I think you feel more empowered with time, as you get better, and you rise up, and some of your most vulnerable moments are early on, so being able to have a … or women or others who are vulnerable in these sorts of situations to talk to is so helpful, and to seek that out. I know that many cities have informal groups like this. Many of them are organized over Facebook, and just small searches for these sort of groups. Some of them are closed, so they're harder to find, but some of these online communities are super helpful, and just tapping into them any way you can, whether through people you know, or whether completely unsolicited.
I know that if somebody had written me an email asking me about any of this stuff, and I get lots of emails unsolicited from people, that would be one not just that I would answer. I try to answer everything, but that I would answer urgently, because I do think that it would be so wrong not to, or just, I can understand, or I can relate, and it's the kind of thing I would be happy to help with, so reach out to people, because I think it's the kind of issue that very specifically is so hard for other women who've been through it not to want to connect on or offer advice on or to act on.
Sarah Stillman: That's all incredibly helpful, and I'm really grateful. I'm wondering if there's anything else you want to share, anything I haven't touched upon.
Azmat Khan: I just think that maybe it is helpful to keep your own account of these sorts of things, to remind yourself, because it is easy to forget, and it's also easy to feel the psychological toll of thinking too much about them, or revisiting them can be not traumatic, but just depressing. It can make you feel really bad about your career, your sphere.
But I think what you guys are doing will be incredibly helpful to other people, to just have advice in one place, because that part of it is the fun part. That's the part that makes the rest of it not feel so enervating.
Sarah Stillman: What do you think is the value of talking about it? The video's actually called, Let's Talk.
Azmat Khan: It's just not feeling alone. There’s that moment when you and somebody else have experienced something that you think is maybe ... It's obviously not just happening to you, but it can feel that way, and then, you start to think about why me? Am I being too sensitive? Am I an easy target? Is there something about me that invites this? These are the thoughts that can go through your mind, and they're all ridiculous. Those thoughts are completely understandable, but they're dangerous, so talking to other people, knowing that they have it brings that aha moment, okay, I'm not crazy.
This is unacceptable. Knowing that you also feel this way, and you also feel this way, and you also feel this way changes that public dynamic. What I was talking about earlier that cultural change comes when those in the wrong realize they're in the minority, so to be able to know that you're not alone makes you more vocal about it. I think it makes others hear it more often, especially when you collectively talk about these issues as a problem. I do think that for the reasons I was telling you earlier that because my coping strategies are ones I'm not necessarily proud of.
Your view or your voice should be good enough in these circumstances. So, having that collective group, and starting to realize that you're not the only one doing this, so there's a structural change that's needed, or there's a managerial mindset that needs to change, or that there is a collective action that you guys can do together that could help result in that cultural shift is so empowering and it makes it all worth it. I'm really glad you asked me about these things. I'm dying to hear what everyone else said, because I feel like that's the part that would really help me, and help any other people who are dealing with these things.
I don't know that my approaches are for everyone, or that we're all going to be doing the same things, necessarily, or have the same reactions, but being able to see ways other people deal with it, and I feel like I'm constantly changing in the ways that I deal with these sorts of things, so I'm always looking for ways to get better at this kind of thing, and my response to them, and anything else anybody has, I would benefit from immensely, even now.
Sarah Stillman: I'm so grateful. You've shared so many really helpful, tactical things, but also, things that I really do so much when it comes to all the various range of boundary cross and happens. I appreciate the physical experiences you've shared, but also, the ones that are ... In that realm, you called them more subtle and complex, so this was really, really great. Thank you. We'll definitely share.