But it’s not just brazen or potentially criminal behavior that results in this moment of frozenness.
In subtler ways, the moment can also happen in women’s quotidian encounters with men like bosses, boyfriends, and husbands. This is the question Kasia Urbaniak, a dominatrix and Taoist nun turned empowerment coach, has been trying to answer for her entire life.
“The problem of female speechlessness — my own, my friends’, my mother’s,” she tells me. Because there’s this moment — someone is touching you in a way you don’t like and they even ask you, In early December of last year, on one of the first formidably cold evenings this winter, a group of 130 women of varied ages and demographics gathered in the lobby of the We Work space near Bryant Park to seek an answer.
“You’re powerful 95 percent of the time but that conversation about your raise is the one that suddenly triggers default behavior — what is that default behavior? Some had come straight from the office; others had come from Utah, Texas, California, or Florida.
She offered it to a room full of strangers (she’d come alone) sitting awkwardly close together on folding chairs in an echoey ballroom during cocktail hour, where, it should be noted, zero cocktails were served.