• Claudia DiMartino

IT’S OKAY TO BE TREATED LIKE A LADY


A few days ago, something happened that made my day but got me thinking. I was entering a building, when a man, who was nearby, came over and opened the door for me. I looked at him, smiled and said, “thank you so much. Can I clone you?”. He smiled and shook his head. I looked at him quizzically; and we started to talk.

To my surprise, he said that he opened the door for a woman a few days ago; and she started screaming at him. She called him a misogynistic pig and that she could open her own door. I stood there in disbelief, but not really. I told him that I appreciated his kindness and to never stop being a gentleman.

Treated Special Growing Up

When I was growing up, I learned from my Dad how a woman should be treated. He always held the door for my mother and for my sister and myself. He even pulled out our chairs and helped us on with our coats. This show of good manners was not to demean us, but to show respect. I’m thankful this gesture is still around today, although the instances are few and far between.

This was and is my normal. These simple gestures, not only taught me that I was special, but they empowered me. If my Dad showed this respect to my mother and his daughters, then, I should have respect for myself. And, in our current culture, I for one, applaud men who believe this should stay in fashion.

What exactly is Feminism?

According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”.

Absolutely!

I firmly believe equal rights for the sexes on all fronts.

As a little girl, I remember my grandmother always telling me that I was very much like her. She was an independent woman. She worked as a seamstress in the garment center in New York City. She saved and bought the house I grew up in on her own.

And, she broke the mold, when she divorced her first husband. This was unheard of for an Italian woman, especially in the 1950’s.

As I observed my grandmother, something always bothered me which was contrary to who she was. Her second husband was an Italian aristocrat. They used to eat dinner with us every other night. I would watch her cut his food for him and wondered why. My mother didn’t cut my father’s food for him!

Now, I realize there are generational differences. As a baby boomer, I’m often mystified by millennials.

The Glass Ceiling

As I became an adult, I entered the business world; and had to fight like so many other women. We were trying to break through that glass ceiling.

I started my career out as an administrative assistant. I got my M.B.A.; and started to climb the corporate ladder. There were challenges.

As an administrative assistant, I was working for five male executives. At times, I needed to help one of the Executive Vice Presidents. When his assistant was not at her desk, I would answer his phone.

To say thank you, he gave me a gold initial pendant, as a Christmas gift. I went back to my desk to open the gift. I put on the pendant. When I saw him, I went over to thank him. I pointed to the pendant. He said, “Let me see”. When I took a step forward, he reached out and pulled my blouse open. I gasped; and threw my arms across my chest. To this day, I can see that malicious sneer, as he turned away. Like so many, I said nothing. I, too, am grateful that sexual harassment against women is being exposed. It is time!

Mutual Respect

If I’ve learned anything through my life, I not only respect myself; but I respect others. That includes men. I know this may raise some eyebrows, especially in today’s climate. I do feel, though, it’s a missing ingredient.

With that said, something special happened today. I just returned home from a shopping run at Costco. I keep a little wheelie cart in the trunk of my car. This makes it so much easier to bring my groceries from the parking lot to my apartment.

As I was unloading the trunk, a young man, a MILLENIAL – asked if I needed some help. I turned and thanked him. I explained I had my cart; and I could manage just fine. I told him, I appreciated his kindness. His offer was a gesture that restored my faith.

Until now, I have been writing about going after my dreams as an actress. Today, I dream that when someone shows an act of kindness we don’t get our panties in a wad. I dream we can accept kindness graciously, with mutual respect and simply say thank you.

And remember, it’s never too late to go after your dreams!

-Claudia DiMartino

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