Friday, March 23, 2018

What's your #MeToo story, working mama?

Unless you've not been paying attention to the news, there is a bold and loud change happening in Hollywood and all over the world. It's the #MeToo movement, which is women very publicly sharing their stories of sexual harassment at the workplace. Famous women like Uma Thurman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, Cara Delavigne and many more shared their stories and these definitely made headlines and magazine covers, propelling the movement and making that hashtag go viral.

People can't stop talking about it because most working women have a story to tell. And many from all ages, economic backgrounds, races, and industries did. The first few stories were enough to unleash a storm of other stories so silently endured because women were afraid and ashamed. Well, not anymore!

Read the story on

I've been meaning to talk about the #MeToo movement here on the blog because this is a working mama blog, but because I've never actually experienced sexual harassment in any of my workplaces, I didn't think I could. Well, the recent awards shows in Hollywood was all about ending sexual harassment in all industries and the fact that this month is International Women's Month makes this as good a time as any! So please let me say something and I hope you can say something, too.

I've been very fortunate to have worked for female bosses nearly all my life. There have only been three times I had a male boss. One of them gave me a really romantic gift and I resigned soon after in horror. I don't want that kind of shit in my working life. My husband still teases me about the gift because even he thinks it's so romantic. Now, I acknowledge it was so easy to resign because the job didn't pay well and I didn't like the work anyway. I was young and didn't really care for anything so I got off easy.

Many women don't have it that easy. Many women can't walk away from a job because (a) it's their dream job and/or (b) they have mouths to feed and bills to pay. It's easier to take the abuse sometimes if you're convinced it's part of the package (i.e. the notorious casting couch) or if you're doing the job because people depended on you. It's also harder to say no to an abuser if he threatens you or your family. I know many girls who were forced in these situations. They are good girls, wonderful women.

That's why whenever I see condemning comments on these #MeToo news, I get really upset. You know, the ones that go, "Why didn't she just quit her job? No dream job is worth it! If she really hated it, why didn't she just leave? Why didn't she report it the first time it happened? I would NEVER do that! Women like that are nothing more than prostitutes."

Well, they all have a point and yet it's really not that simple. As for prostitution, let me just say that when I was in college taking up Creative Writing, an alumni talked to our class and we were so eager to listen to him. All he did was dash our dreams when he said, "If you write for anything else that isn't from your muse, if you write for money not for your art, if you accepted payment from a client, if you work anywhere that you don't like, if you even did something for your boss that isn't part of your job description, you just prostituted yourself."

Full disclosure: I write for money. I'm not ashamed of it, too. I'm pretty proud of the fact that practically every word I've published has given me a really nice life. Not all of us can write for free, ya know. Gotta feed the kids and send them to school. So prostitution is a strange word to use for working women although I know a lot of conservative men who think that any woman who works for money is little better than a whore. That's why a lot of men think they can harass women at work. They think no man is looking out for her, that she'd do anything for the money because she needs it, that she's game. And we women, we've been taught to smile, to accept it, to be flattered by it, and most importantly to never ever talk about it.

Well, no more!

I guess all I want to say is that sexual harassment and abuse of women is evil, and there is a special kind of evil when working women, especially working mothers, are subjected to it. There is immense power the abuser exercises over us when they know we really really want this job or that we really really need it because we have children. These predators prey not really on our bodies, but on our dreams, our hopes, and our need to provide for those we love. It's a sad story from the dawn of time and it's still a story we hear today.

And you know what else is evil? When we do succeed in our work but no one believes it's your talent and hard work that did it. They all think it's because of the sexual relationship—it's never rape or harassment to them because the woman "agreed" to the sex. So now the successful woman starts to wonder if what these people think is true: "Did I get the job because I was the most qualified for it or because I did that horrible thing? Did I get promoted because I brought in a lot of money to the company or because I did that horrible thing? Is my success real or is it all a fraud?" And now the dream, the hard work, the success—all that is tainted. What an evil thing to do to us!

I'm so glad that this #MeToo movement is rocking Hollywood right now. It's changing everyone not just in Hollywood or in the US, but all over the world. Many countries are now talking about the problem of sexual harassment at work and how to deal with it. The #MeToo movement is making women think we don't have to take sexual harassment. It's changing the way we think of men and women and the workplace, that these things aren't normal and part of the job, that these things are evil and must be stopped. It's making men think that they can't do this anymore because we women won't have it and we will talk about it, maybe even shame them, maybe even have them arrested. In fact, so many men (producer Harvey Weinstein, TV host Matt Lauer, actor Kevin Spacey, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, etc) have lost their jobs and their positions of power because of this movement. Good riddance!

I'm sad that all these stories are so horrifying but I'm glad they're all coming out. We need to talk about evil because silence is how it does its work best. Now that we have a voice, we need to trumpet out that we're not taking this anymore. What a wonderful time to be a working woman!

1 comment:

  1. I've been lucky enough that I haven't been sexually harassed at work but I've been discriminated against. My former boss was about to retire and I was pregnant while I was looking for another boss. Although they never said it explicitly, I was turned down because I was pregnant even if I was the most qualified among the applicants. I never imagined that my beautiful baby bump was such a turn-off! In the end, a female employer accepted me even before my maternity leave was over. Women unite!


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