I applaud your daughter for going after what she wants and still managing, even after all of the bullshit and games, to continue. The pompous jerk who attempted to humiliate her should humble himself and publically admit how wrong he was. Apologizing to her supervisor was just a way to save face. The aggression you describe is palpable and familiar. I can feel the intensity of it just reading your words. Nothing like a smart, young woman to piss off the patriarchy. I guess he felt it necessary to grind her down a peg or two. I’m sure, subconsciously, the rest of them did too with their harsh q&a. My heart and head hurt for her.
I have worked since I was a teenager. I paid my own way through college (working full time while I did). I have a STEMs background (biotechnology, medicine, forensics; a little about computers). When I was younger, I won awards for writing. Hell, I know how to reroof a house, how to disassemble firearms for proper cleaning, I taught myself how to knit two-socks at a time on the same needle, and I can cook filet mignon to a perfect medium-rare. Yet, one a daily basis I will have some guy try to shut me up or down. To remind me just how little I matter in the grand scope of things because of my gender. Sometimes all it takes is having one mansplain about a topic I am thoroughly versed on; a crude joke at my expense; a salesman making a point to talk to my boyfriend instead of me even though I’m the one buying [the car or appliance, whatever]. And, like other women, I have been subjected to feel as though my mere walking down the street in public obligates me to be smiley and social when all I want to do is to be left alone, to go about my day or night like any other person. When I bark back, I’m called a bitch. I’m not a grinder monkey put here to perform and chitchat. I’m just trying to shop for groceries or get some exercise without some man I don’t know invading my personal space, to grunt crudely at me, or have a carload of men scream at me while gesturing in a sexually-suggestive fashion. Yet somehow all of that is MY fault. They put the onus on us as to how we’ll react and cope with the fallout. Do I dare yell something back and risk further, more aggressive action (possibly escalating to violence)? Do I ignore it and pretend I didn’t see or hear them when they clearly know I did? Then men dare to wonder why women are defensive, guarded, or afraid when they approach.
I read Three Women recently. In it, the author details how her mother — day after day — was subjected to the perverse whims of an older local man as he followed her back and forth to work. As he did so, he would brandish his manhood and pleasure himself in public. Every-single-day. She was forced to tolerate this, knowing no one would do anything to stop it. She had to accept HIS sick behavior in order to cope with her day. Christ, I can’t even imagine how awful that must have been for her. Knowing he was looming just outside her apartment, assured in the knowledge she’d have to leave eventually. Sure, this was in the '60s and in Italy, but I’ve been alive since, and I’ve seen some pretty equally offensive public acts of aggression perpetrated by men on women who were minding their own business. And I can relate to why her mother didn’t bother to report it. She knew how the authorities would treat it. It would be brushed off casually. She would be told to leave the poor old guy alone to go about his business (to go about enjoying his erection at her expense and peace of mind), while she would be questioned about how she must have asked for it. How she must have done something to invite this behavior (her attire perhaps).
After decades of being a witness of and or being subjected to a double-standard, to unwarranted aggression and misogyny, I have to admit, I get weary. It is exhausting trying to champion for the cause of equity when the wave you’re trying to crest is still such an obstacle. One supported by an antiquated mindset of where a woman’s place is and isn’t. As you said, it is 2019 for goodness sake. How long is it going to take before we’re taken seriously? Before we’re accepted into the fold instead of being expected to normalize the dysfunction, the unbalanced scales of emotional labor, the constant pressure to demonstrate we’re just as capable and competent as the next guy? You know, without being branded as a shrew, told we’re difficult for simply voicing a valid opinion, being told we’re emotional when we’re having a justified reaction to something that would upset a man.