Earlier this fall, I was conducting a bunch of interviews at a conference. After I finished one perfectly pleasant interview, the person I was interviewing, who is a prominent business leader, turned to me and said, "You are such a Stepford Wife." Shocked, I responded, "Well, I can assure you no one has ever said that about me before!"
The person, unfazed, continued to the audience and crew, "She's really good in bed. All women who are like that on the surface are." I totally lack the superpower ability to deliver the perfect zinger, and I felt like it would make things worse if I made a fuss, and frankly, I didn't know what to do. So I tried to laugh it off. The business leader walked away, shouting back to everyone, "Use protection!"
This person wasn't a man. It was a woman who, for whatever reason, wanted to humiliate me.
A month or so before this event, I was at a high profile, glitzy conference. I'm never comfortable at such events. As an introvert, I don't schmooze naturally, and I always feel like the proverbial sore thumb. But this time, a very senior woman who works for a major bank was seated across from me at dinner. Both during dinner and cocktails afterwards, she made a point of introducing me as a wonderful journalist who everyone should respect. She used her credibility and prominence to confer both on me, so that people were inclined to talk to me, instead of eyeing my name tag and walking away. She lifted me up.