Monday Morning. The smell of fresh brewed coffee in the office:
„Hopefully your hand is not the only part of your body that is wet like that, Mrs. Tutschka.“ –
replied my boss Dr. Michael Johannes Schmidt to my „good morning“ after giving me a smile and a handshake – usually a common greeting form in Germany, even in the legal department of an international automotive company like this. My colleagues smiled the same way my boss did. Seriously?!
„I’m not a victim. Never was.“
At that moment I had held my law degree for several years already, had worked in huge law firms, had just finished my PhD – and was married as a mom of three. Seriously.
I would never greet a colleague like that, not my assistant, nor my boss. And my colleagues wouldn’t either. Young lawyers – intelligent, good mannered, standing for equality and justice. Friends. I saw in their eyes that they hated it. They would never say this either.
„But in this moment, actually their silent smile did.“
And I felt sorry for them. Men like Mr. Schmidt need the audience: It was never about me. It was all about him. But an audience builds a culture. We all are building this culture.
I personally can handle a slimy behaviour like this. I’m naturally blonde. I experienced this my whole life. There is always a simple mind like his in the room.
But my colleagues were trapped: to be part of this game or to risk their jobs.
„At least they had a choice.“
And I write this, my personal #MeToo experience, because I want to encourage them to choose. Like all these brave women who decided to break their silence and tell their stories. Breaking the silence is never easy. Being part of a hated game isn’t easy.
Being offender and victim at the same time is even worse.
I’m not the victim. Never was. They are. By choice.