On Raising Daughters and Sexual Harassment
I am a woman, a mother of girls and a feminist.
The recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein have shaken, infuriated, and sadly not surprised me. How do I raise my daughters to know what consent truly means? To be self aware and strong and always willing to speak out on their own behalf? To embrace their own sexuality and femininity without being objectified for it.
I spent most of my adult life pre children in the entertainment industry. I worked on and off Broadway where a culture of familiarity, sexuality and casualness prevails. It is a very small industry and there are no real hard and fast rules of conduct. I worked with many, many, many amazing and inspirational men. And also a few who crossed the line.
When I was about 26 I was interviewing for a job as an associate to a successful Broadway Producer. I had gone into his office for an initial interview and felt confident about my chances at the job. A few days later I received a phone call asking me to join him at a work event so we could talk more about the position. He told me to wear "a little black dress and heels." The request seemed odd to me but still I agreed. I assumed this would be a theater event and he wanted to introduce me to people he was working on projects with to see how I faired in a networking situation.
When I asked where to meet him he named an upscale bar near his office. We would get a drink before going. Again, an alarm should have gone off in my head. But still I went.
I did put on a black dress but not my best one. I was feeling a little uncomfortable and wanted to be in something not at all sexy, I didn't want to give him the wrong idea. These thoughts shouldn't have had to go through my mind at all. Not for a job interview.
I met him for a drink and tried to keep the conversation professional. When he got a little too close and familiar I tried to casually mention that I lived with my (very serious now the father of my children) boyfriend.
We finally made our way from the drink to the "work event." Instead of a theater industry party it was a 10 year anniversary party for his friend's law firm. This wasn't an interview. This was a date.
I very uncomfortably let him shuttle me around the room. Touch my waist. Touch my shoulder. He was treating me like his date. I wanted a job so I let it happen.
After about an hour I got up the guts to say I had to go home. I didn't say I was uncomfortable. I didn't say I usually don't wear cocktail dresses and heels to interviews. I just turned down the offer for a nightcap and left.
I didn't get the job. He called me two days later and said I was over qualified. I am fairly certain "overqualified" meant not single and willing to sleep with him.
Looking back there have been many instances I would now categorize as sexual harassment. The guy who "jokingly" asked me to make out with his friend who was having a bad day. The co worker who told me his wife and son were away for the weekend. It goes on and on.
I don't have the answers. I can't fix a broken culture myself. What I can do is raise my girls with confidence, self respect and self love. Teach them to use their voices. To stand up.
I can already see the strong woman Hermione is becoming and I am so proud of her. The other day she told me a little boy at school pushed her. I asked her what she did when it happened.
"Stop. That's my body. Don't touch my body. I don't like that."
I guess I am doing something right.