15.08.2019

#METOO: Sexual harassment in the legal department

„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?!

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.

„#Be a game changer!“

Today.

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