Surviving the World of Harvey Weinsteins
As the plethora of women continue to come out on the disturbing and demeaning behaviors of Harvey Weinstein, it is important to note that Harvey Wenstein is not only in Hollywood, but everywhere you turn.
Sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and rape are all real and no industry is safe from it. To say that it is just par for the course or that is how business is run is totally inexcusable. Some industries more than others turn a blind eye to it, but one positive thing we can take from the Harvey Weinstein scandal is that women are finally given a voice to speak up and having the courage to say, "yes, this happened to me" and are able to take the steps towards emotional recovery. This is not to say that women have not tried to speak up in the past. The problem is, that until a high profile monster such as Weinstein made the media outlets, women were very often ignored or were shamed to believe they allowed the attack and are to blame, hence victim blaming.
As I read the overwhelming accounts of Weinstein's actions and abuse of power, it brings back many unwanted memories of my own experiences in the past. Sexual harassment was a common practice in many industries I have worked in, most notably the casino industry while I was a dealer. Back in my early twenties, this was something that I had to face each night at work. The "suits" which we called the male supervisors back in the day, looked at the new recruits each summer to see who they would prey on next. Given that I was only 20-years-old at the time, I did not have the experience or knowledge to know how to deal with these predators. My work experience was a constant barrage of unwanted sexual advances, sexual comments, and uncomfortable physical touches that included massages while I was dealing, unwanted kisses, and slaps to my backside. This was considered the norm and very often these situations happened by players who were considered "high-rollers" who by definition were gamblers that bet large sums of money. When I complained about the unwanted advances and touches from players, I was told to let it be and take it as a compliment. Looking back, I feel frustrated at my younger self for not knowing better and taking a stand that none of those behaviors were acceptable. Even women would tell me back then that I should be flattered and only worry if the men would stop giving me attention.
Fast forward to over two decades later, I know that I would never allow anyone to put me in an uncomfortable situation again. Many times human resources departments are worthless to help. During my time as an account executive for Calvin Klein, the vice-president of my department always made disgusting sexual comments to me and ask extremely uncomfortable and inappropriate questions to me when we were alone. When I reported this to my immediate supervisor, she said it was no big deal and if it bothered me to just keep a running record of it to report later on. This made me feel that my emotional well-being was insignificant and within a year I resigned from my position.
When someone whether male or female makes a comment or puts you in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, it is not okay! We as a society need to teach others that no one, no matter what title they have is allowed to treat us in such a way. The Harvey Weinsteins of the world are all about control and manipulation. They live life in their own fears and use these tactics to make themselves feel powerful. Rape is not about the sex, but rather about control! The conversation has been brought to light and we must move forward to shed more light to it and take the power away from these sexual predators.
No matter what stage in life, we can learn self-worth. We must learn to value ourselves, let go of self-limiting beliefs, and fear to achieve success. No one has to sleep their way to the top. And those who in in the power to say otherwise, must be exposed and have their authority taken away. We have already seen the movement happening to high power officials, producers, politicians, etc., but what about those in industries that are not considered media worthy?
Women and men need to develop their own safe communities where they are comfortable to speak out and gain support from others. Sad to say, many times, women are the ones attacking each other. This mindset needs to change and change now! Through the study and practice of Emotional Intelligence, we can provide a safe zone of individuals who are positive, supportive, and help each other gain the power within themselves to stand up for what is right.
Being a victim does not define us, instead we must learn to take each experience good and bad and learn from it. I hold no anger to my past experiences. I look to move forward each day and do my part to make this world a better place. And for all those who have been strong enough to go public and take a stand, THANK YOU! May we find compassion and empathy and learn from your experiences as well. No matter what industry you work in, this is the time to feel empowered and put and end to this deplorable behavior.