You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage. – Alex Elle
I recently received a response to one of my articles from Randle Moore, another Medium Writer. I read his article Secret Sex Rendezvous Does Not Remain Secret for Long regarding an incident that happened when he was teaching.
My response to Randle’s article, “Thank you for writing about this subject. It has never been equal between boys and girls in school or as adults. The #MeToo movement is giving us all a glimpse of the inequality,” it took me back about 45 years in time.
In my early 20s, I worked in a photo studio manning the front counter, working as a photographer’s assistant, and doing the finishing touches on all photos that went out. We had contracts with the local high schools to do all their senior portraits, plus wedding photos. I loved working around photography, but I wanted to have more darkroom and developing experience.
After four years, I took a job in another studio doing part of their printing. This was a bigger studio with contracts with several high schools.
One day, while sitting in the print room printing out senior portraits, a sales rep walked into the room where I was working. I was the only one in the room. The room was dimly lit, not a full darkroom. The room had windows on two sides with a view of the shooting room.
I was 25 and the sales rep had to be pushing 60 years of age.
When he entered the room, I was polite, but not overly friendly. I was working. He walked up behind me to see the pictures I was printing then began to touch me inappropriately. I didn’t know what to do. He was as old as my father. Eventually, I found a reason to leave the room.
The owner of the studio was normally in the shooting room and would have been able to see the sales reps inappropriate behavior. Was this situation by accident or was it collusion? The question circled in my mind for days.
I had begun to question the owner’s behavior with the senior girls also. The studio where I had worked previously always had a female photo assist in the shooting room at all times. The photographer in the larger studio never had an assistant. I never saw anything inappropriate, but I did not work in the late afternoon or evenings when the majority of the students had appointments.
The owner’s wife was in and out of the studio, but I didn’t feel comfortable talking to her either, so I said nothing hoping it wouldn’t happen again.
A few weeks later the sales rep was back. The owner, who had been in the shooting room left, allowing the opportunity for a repeat performance.
Once again, I didn’t know how to handle the situation so I quit, on the spot.
This took place during the 70s. At that time nothing was ever said in the news. I’m assuming not much was said in person. I’m not sure what my mother would have said if I had told here. That was a subject that just wasn’t talked about.
I recently picked up a book from Amazon, “#MeToo: Essays About How and Why This Happened, What it Means and How to Make Sure It Never Happens Again” © 2017 Edited by Lori Perkins.
The book starts with the telling of the story experienced by a publisher of an Upper Manhattan newspaper when she was 22. She tells how she had started the newspaper with her own money. She was the owner, the boss. She was interviewing a middle-aged local New York City politician for an up-coming election profile. Out of the blue and without any warning he asked her if she would be his mistress. She remembered being shocked and unsure that she had heard him correctly. She said that she thought she just declined his offer and proceeded with the interview.
She stated that she was appalled, but didn’t say anything to anyone. Her way of handling the situation was to avoid him after that and make sure she was never alone with him.
She recalls that later she couldn’t believe he had propositioned her, the owner of the local newspaper and that he was so caviler about the whole situation.
She states that about the same time her newspaper received a full-page ad for a new bank in their neighborhood. A vice president from the bank requested lunch with her. She assumed it was to talk about neighborhood programs or initiatives that the bank was thinking of running. During lunch he offered to buy her an apartment. Once again, he was offering to set her up as his mistress. She made it very clear to him that she wasn’t interested, but once again didn’t tell anyone. Who would she have told?
She stated that more recently she told these stories to her grown son whose response was, “If it happened to you, it’s happened to everyone.”
No, the stories I’ve told are not rape or sexual abuse, but as the author of the book states, “it’s a kind of inappropriate sexual creepiness that men just feel entitled to. We have to tell our stories, point the finger, shame this behavior and make it stop.”
We see news reports from New York City and Hollywood, but that’s just the public side of the story. How many women, like me, have had to deal with sexual predators in average cities and average jobs? It didn’t begin with Rose Mcgowan’s allegations of rape or Tarana Burke’s 10 year-long campaign to support women of color surviving sexual abuse or Anita Hill’s report of Clarence Thomas’s sexual misconduct.
Women all over the world have been the target of sexual predators. The #MeToo Movement blew up from the reporting of Harvey Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior. It has now gone worldwide with “#MeToo” appearing in most countries, many under their own Twitter revolution name.
We all have seen or heard stories about sexual harassment in the workplace, at home or even in Uber and Lyft rides. Most of us have taken a laissez-faire attitude, but it’s time for a change. Whether we have been the victim of unwanted sexual advances or been the victim of a predator or are an innocent by-stander we all have to change how we look at this behavior. It is time to see that there are consequences.
#MeToo states that they aren’t a mob. They are a movement to “initiate change by becoming politically active and not waiting for someone else to step up to the plate.”
They are encouraging people to get involved whether it’s a donation, supporting a local politician, changing legislation for nondisclosure laws, running for local office or signing petitions.
They are also encouraging people to report mistreatment in the workplace or in schools or report it to the local police. If a person doesn’t feel they can report it by themselves, take a group.
The book that I mentioned above is free on Amazon. They want the book to be passed around and shared.
It’s time to stop the sexual predators. It’s time for all of us to change our attitude and stop turning a blind eye to sexual misconduct.
It is easy to say, “It’s not my problem,” or “I don’t want to rock the boat,” or “I can’t afford the consequences.” It is easy for women to say that as well as men.
The problem is that it could easily and unexpectedly become your problem in just a moment of time. Not just for women. Not only can men be sexually abused personally, but if he is not aware and sensitive to the subject his own wife and daughters may be hiding the fact of sexual abuse they have or are suffering.