Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly… just a few of the high profile sexual predators who were finally exposed.
Not one of them has really, truly apologized for their horrible behavior and the pain and suffering they have caused.
Weinstein blamed it on the “culture of his time.” As someone who came of age in this culture, there were many times when my “bosses” came on to me sexually in the workplace.
The first time it happened, I was just out of college, working as a photojournalist for a weekly entertainment paper in Fort Lauderdale. One day, the boss (whose name I have now forgotten, but I do recall he had a huge beer belly and wore white patent leather shoes) walked into my darkroom which was dimly illuminated by a red safelight. With a sickening sneer on his face, and while grabbing himself, he asked: “Would you like some of this?” I put my hands in the developer pan and told him he if he took one more step I would throw the acid-based chemicals in his face, which sent him running. (I have no idea if this would have done any damage to him or not). It never occurred to me to quit this job that I loved and there was no one to tell. It was a small staff, run by his much younger wife.
I thought I handled it pretty well considering….
A few years later, I was working for local government and had a boss who was telling other people that we were sleeping together. The worst part for me was that he was such a dweeb that I was embarrassed that anyone would think that I had sunk so low to be with a creep like him. This time, I did tell someone – my Dad (a politician) – and he arranged for me to have lunch with a man in the waste removal business known as Big Frankie, to share my story. The man spreading the rumors, Tommy, was a well-known civic leader.
Over lunch, in a dark Italian restaurant, I shared my story with Big Frankie. When I walked into my office later that day, the phone was ringing and Tommy was calling to apologize to me, profusely, promising to never do it again.
Another time it happened was when I had my own business and one of my clients would always proposition me by phone. He was literally begging me to meet him in a hotel while graphically describing in detail what we would be doing. I didn’t want to give up the client (my business was new, the money was good, and I was doing a great job getting him PR). There was no one to tell, so I figured out a creative way to make it stop.
One day I said to him, “When your wife calls and tells me I have her permission to F$*K your brains out, then I’ll be a yes.”
That was the end of that. He never asked again.
My hope is that the era of women being sexually harassed will be over and the new culture will be one of safety, equality, justice, and fairness.
I am also hoping that these sick men get psychological counseling, mend their ways, and sincerely apologize to all those who have been harmed by their appalling behavior.