BLOG: #MeToo Should I feel guilty about being silent for too long?
WARNING: This story contains graphic language.
I hesitated a long time before adding the #MeToo hashtag to my Facebook status.
Not because it has never happened to me.
I know very few women who have navigated the world of media for more than two decades without at some point encountering some form of harassment.
That is a sad truth. One that we need to talk about more.
I wrote it and erased it three times: #MeToo, #MeToo, #MeToo.
Why am I hesitating? I feel ashamed in some way.
Maybe because it occurs to me that by being silent all this time, I have somehow been complicit in the harassment inflicted on others.
I’m also afraid — afraid that people will judge me for that silence, and afraid that good men whom I have worked with will somehow have the finger pointed at them because of the despicable behavior of some of their colleagues.
I have been sexually harassed by men who I have worked with.
“Men”, plural. Not just once, but also not habitually.
Most of the men I have worked with have been wonderful, supportive, kind and decent.
Many have been mentors and collaborators who have been a joy to be around.
I started my career as the first-ever female voice on a country music radio station in Vernon, B.C.
I was 25-years-old and worked in the newsroom exclusively with men, and every single one of them was decent.
There was never a line crossed, never an improper suggestion.
I do not want to be party to any movement that would paint those kind, caring men with the same brush as the others.
But, the others do need to be called out.
Three times over my career, men in positions of power have crossed the line.
All three times I sought help, but I have never spoken publicly about it.
In the first instance, a manager called me into his office, closed the door and told me he wanted to “f— me” every time he saw me on television.
There was no ambiguity to his message.
I fled from his office, ran to the news director who had hired me and told him what had just happened.
I was shocked, naive, stunned really.
His advice: “never go into his office alone.” I never did again.
A year later, at a different television station, a manager grabbed me by the (ahem, word now made famous by Donald Trump) as I crossed him in the hallway.
When I got back to my desk, shaking, my producer insisted I report it to the union.
A note went on his file, one of many I believe, as he was eventually fired.
Two years after that, at yet another television station, an intern in our newsroom wrote a report for her class project in which she described a nickname of a sexual nature being used to describe me behind my back by the news director and my co-anchor.
I won’t repeat the nickname here, suffice it to say, it was wildly inappropriate.
I reported it to the station manager, and I went back to work with them.
I assume they were spoken to. I kept my head down, and kept my distance.
#MeToo, #MeToo, #MeToo.
The sad thing is, you would be hard pressed to find a woman who hasn’t experienced harassment in the workplace or elsewhere.
Now, it’s time we all scream it from the rooftops.
The years of keeping our heads down and keeping our distance should be behind us.
Good, decent men and strong empowered women can unite on this one and call out those who would make us feel uncomfortable for saying #MeToo.
Three times over the course of a 26 year career. Never again.
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