In case you are wondering why this piece is titled "Me Too", I will explain to you now what it means. Twitter started the #MeToo campaign to shed more light on all the women who are victims of Sexual Abuse or Harassment. I decided instead of just posting on Facebook and Twitter #MeToo, that I would go ahead and share my own experiences in hopes that it helps even one woman, to speak up and not be another victim.
With the allegations coming out of Hollywood in regards to Harvey Weinstein and his sexually abusing numerous actresses, women all over the country began coming forward with their stories as well, finally feeling brave enough to do so. The amount of women (and men) who have experienced sexual harassment at work or just, in general, is astounding. What’s even worse is the number of women who kept this to themselves because they were ‘too afraid’ to speak up. A dialogue on this issue needs to start and it needs to stay because sexual abuse and harassment need to END.
I, myself have been “sexually harassed” not once, but twice in my life. Once when I was 16 and another time when I was 19 years old. The first time was when I worked as a hostess after school at a Steakhouse. The gentlemen (I use that term very lightly) was at least in his late 20’s, early 30’s and was seemingly a nice guy on the exterior. However, after working there for some time, he began to get pretty weird with the younger girls. An occasional ass grabs here, an inappropriate comment there, and of course the ever so popular, “If you say anything, no one will believe you” comment. Ok, well unfortunately for this perv, I’m not one to sit back quietly and continue to let someone 10 years older than I am grope me at work. I was dating my now husband at the time and aside from the girls at work, he was the first person I told. His initial reaction was to go there and wait for him in the parking lot with a few of our other male friends (and I’m about 100% sure they did show up at my job….). Once I did that, I brought it up to our General Manager who did not take this situation lightly. Once I started talking, other young girls that he was doing this too stepped up and spoke on the issue as well. He brought into the office shortly after our GM had gotten statements from all of us, and he was fired on the spot. I can tell you he was not happy, but that was not my problem or my concern. My concern was, I am NOT yours to touch. I was a child at the time, YOU were the ADULT. Not today, Mother F*cker. On his way out he told me I was a slut and that “He’ll get his revenge one day.” I told him to enjoy the unemployment line. #SorryNotSorry
The second time occurred when I was 19 years old. I was in college and looking for part-time work during the day as I was taking classes at night. I posted a resume on a well-known site called Care.Com and I’m sure if anyone who reads this has ever looked for a babysitting job OR a babysitter, you’re well aware of this site. I have used this site numerous times when looking for date night positions and have met with countless families. I’ve NEVER once had a ‘nervous’ feeling or more so an ‘uneasy’ feeling before going to meet with someone. But for some reason, this time I did.
The ad posted for a single dad looking for occasional help with his two young boys as he is divorced (I wonder why…..) and he only has them on the weekends and a few times during the week. Easy enough right? But there was just something that made me feel weird while exchanging emails back and forth with him. However, I really needed the extra cash so I decided to follow through with the interview. I felt a little more at ease when the boys were home during my initial meeting and the father seemed to be normal. He also offered me a part-time position as a receptionist at his law firm for the days that I wasn’t with the kids or had school. At the time, I was like “ok this is PERFECT! I’ll be making money for school AND I’ll have some office experience to put on my resume.” SCORE!
I basically had the time and he told me I could start the following week. I remember going home that night, and we had family over. My then boyfriend was there too and we were browsing on MySpace (old AF, I know) when I had gotten a friend request from my new “boss.” I wasn’t able to see his full profile until I accepted it, so of course being the nosey person I am, I accepted. The first thing I noticed was that ALL of his pictures were of him in his UNDERWEAR. I don’t mean like boxer briefs either. I mean, little tighty-whities that you wear when you’re in the midst of potty training. This man was in his 40’s. Again, I was 19. NOT cool. I’m guessing he was creeping on my page just as much I as was creeping on his because once he had gotten the notion that I had a boyfriend, the creepy messages started flooding in. They basically stated things like, “Oh I doubt your boyfriend even loves you,” and “He’s still a child. I’m a man. Does he look like THIS naked?” And would proceed to send me more pictures of him in his underwear. With this one, I instantly felt sick and felt like I had done something wrong. Obviously, I did not take the job and when I told him I’m passing up the position he said, “Oh c’mon! It’s just a joke!” No, sir, but sending a teenager pictures of yourself in your underwear is not a joke and you could have gotten in A LOT of trouble.
The point of my writing this piece is to shed more light on the fact that sexual harassment happens every day and it’s sickening that these men who think they hold some sort of power over younger women in the workplace. There is no job that is more important than my dignity or my self-respect and I want to encourage other young women to stand up for themselves. There WILL be someone there to listen, you just need to take action. The more time you let go by, the more victims there will be. Be brave and stand up for yourself! I did and will continue to do so.