It seems every morning when I wake up there is a new allegation of some man in power who sexually assaulted, harassed, or told a dirty joke to a woman who was highly offended. Some of these allegations apparently happened over 30 years ago, some 20, some 10. My question to these women: Why didn’t you speak up sooner? Why did you wait so long to make public these acts of injustice? I am highly suspect of women who choose not to stand up for what is right. Your excuses are lame. Come on!
I recently wrote a blog post on #Metoo. Because I too, have been sexually harassed, touched inappropriately, and propositioned throughout my career. I worked in a male dominated field and whether it was to be expected or not, it happened. And when it happened, I looked them square in the eyes and told them exactly what I thought about it. After writing that blog, I began remembering other incidents:
I remember when I was in high school. My seat was in the back of the classroom and I had to walk up to the front of the classroom to turn in a paper. As I walked passed this boy’s desk, he grabbed my ass. Some other kids had noticed and giggled. I put my paper on the teacher’s desk and I walked the perimeter of the classroom to my desk. However, I didn’t sit down. I walked up to the guy who had grabbed my ass and quite unexpectedly to him, I slapped him across the face. The teacher’s jaw dropped and the entire class burst out laughing. I then proceeded to tell him if he ever touched me again, I would do more than just slap him. He got the point. He was a fair skinned kid and he walked around the school the rest of the day with my hand print on his face. He never touched me again. In fact, whenever he would pass me in the hall, he made sure to stay far away from me.
I worked at Sea World for a short period of time in the Aviculture Department (birds) and there was a handsome caretaker who worked in the Birds of Prey department. Everyone was friendly at Sea World and all of us got along as co-workers. At an after hours party, he walked up to me and made light conversation. He told me had some birds of prey at this house and maybe someday I could come over to see them. On Monday morning, he approached me and asked if I would like to come over to his house after work to help him feed the birds. He was my co-worker and I didn’t feel threatened by him in any way plus he didn’t live far from me. When I got to his house, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He gave me a glove to put on my hand and arm so I could hold a falcon and a hawk he had in a cage. He allowed me to feed them. I found it fascinating. After putting the birds back into their cages, we made small talk and as I was about to leave, he started grabbing and groping at me. I was shocked. I never gave him any indication I was in the least bit interested in him and yet he felt it was okay for him to treat me like this.
I was able to fight him off and as I drove home, I was furious. The next day at work, I went into my bosses office and I told him what had happened. I then went to the HR department to see what could be done about it as it had not happened at work but at his home. It didn’t matter. He actually then made it a hostile work environment. They called him and confronted him with this. He denied it. They didn’t let it drop. I started telling the other women who were bird caretakers what he had done and wouldn’t you know it, he had done the same thing to them. Not wanting to cause trouble, they never reported it, they just managed to avoid him at all times. When I told them what I had done, they decided to join me and they all filed complaints about him.
He was fired. When he tried to collect unemployment and Sea World denied it, his appeal had to go up against an administrative judge. We all showed up to the hearing. After the judge heard all of our stories, he too, denied his unemployment.
When I was living in Montana, one of my jobs was to sell seamless siding. Training was held in Fargo, ND and the company put me and another employee up in a hotel for the week long training. The guy who was doing the training would walk around the room and would stop behind me and start massaging my shoulders. My co-worker noticed this as did some of the other guys. They jokingly said I was the teachers pet. He would also stand so close to me, I could feel his erection against my back. I politely asked him to move away and to keep his hands off of me. He thought I was joking. I wasn’t. He continued to do little things in front of me that disgusted me, he’d wink at me, stick his tongue out and do crude gestures with it as he was staring at me. It all got to be a little too much.
In the evenings over dinner, my co-worker and I would discuss what he had done that day in the classroom to me. My co-worker was happily married and respected women. He kept telling me if it was happening to his wife, he would kill the guy. On the last day of training, I had had enough of his shenanigans. We were taking a test and he was walking around the room. He once again put his hands on my shoulders. When he did that, I stood up really fast, kicking my chair into his stomach. Loudly and sternly, I told him to leave me alone, in front of the whole class, which mind you, I was the only female in the class. My co-worker got up as did several of the other guys as if they were going to kick the shit out him. “You heard what the lady said,” one of the guys yelled. He quickly went back up to the front of the room and we all finished our testing.
On the drive home, my co-worker and I discussed what had happened. Since I was the only female in the class, this guy thought he could take advantage of me and they other guys would back him. Well, they didn’t. When we got back to Montana, I filed a report against him and my co-worker backed me up. He had even gotten the names of the other guys just in case I wasn’t believed. Glad to say, he wasn’t around much longer. They fired him immediately.
So when I hear these news reports of some type of harassment or sexual assault that happened 30 years ago or 20 years ago or 10 years ago, I have no sympathy for these women or men. Their excuses are lame. If it was such a horrible experience, why didn’t they come forward after it happened? Screw they were afraid; screw who would believe them; screw the threat of ruining your career; screw all those excuses. Sure, not everyone has a big mouth like me but I wasn’t going to allow these guys to get away with what they thought they could do. How many other women had been attacked by these same men? I felt I had a duty to the next woman who crossed their path. Their behavior was unacceptable and inexcusable.
Going forward, I hope the young girls in this generation and the one’s to follow will realize they have a voice and need to use it. They have every right to be treated with respect and if they aren’t, they need to follow through in spite of their fear because fear is only False Evidence Appearing Real.
And to the women who continue to come out of the woodwork, shut the fuck up. You had a chance back when all this happened and you refused to exercise your right to speak up then. It’s too late. Now your story is unbelievable as is your credibility. The media is the only one eating up these stories as is the ambulance chaser, Gloria Allred. Inquiring minds want to know, why are you doing this now?