Write to Those Doing the Right Thing

by Ilinap on October 23, 2017

I’ve spent my entire life writing to legislators, companies, and movie stars. I had written to President Jimmy Carter, Hamburger Helper, and Lucille Ball before I turned 12.

Decades later, I continue to write letters. I even taught a segment in my public relations class about advocacy and the role of social good in the marketplace. One of the exercises I had my students do was write a letter to a local, state, or federal legislator about any issue important to them. Fortunately, many students received responses, which triggered in them the power of citizen engagement. I hope at least a few of them will continue to use their voices and embrace the power of words. As a North Carolinian, I have gotten my share of hand cramps writing to my state legislators and senators these last few years.

Suffice it to say that I’ve been a supreme complainer.

In my defense, we have had many horrid issues to complain about – HB2, cutting art and PE in school, teacher pay, the loss of environmental protections, budget cuts… You see my point. What I realize is how little time I have spent applauding the work of those I admire and cherish. Here are just a few people I need to thank.

Governor Cooper

Attorney General Josh Stein

State Senator Jay Chaudhuri

State Senator Jeff Jackson

Sate Senator Floyd McKissick

State Senator Mike Woodard

Representative Graig Meyer

Representative Duane Hall

 

I am grateful for their voices and their values. All the folks doing the right thing, fighting the good fight, and leading the resistance, need to be told that we appreciate them. We must recognize their risks and sacrifices and thank them for their service. Let’s fill their inboxes with words of thanks and appreciation.

And by all means, keep writing those letters of resistance, too.

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“Me too.”

It’s a thing happening on Facebook right now. Women are simply uttering the words “me too” to illustrate just how many of us have faced harassment in the workplace. My feed is filled with this. I have never in my life had a job where I was not sexually harassed. The gravest case was when my harasser became a stalker. I had a restraining order against him, though it amounted to nothing. He had his ways to trail me. I ultimately moved out of town and spent the summer living somewhere other than my father’s house so he could not track me down. Harassment is serious shit, folks. There’s nothing banal about it.

I am 49-years old and have been harassed literally in every job I’ve ever had.

Hey Sunshine.

You look hot in that outfit.

You’re a sight for sore eyes while I’m away from my wife. Here’s my room key.

A slap on the ass.

Ogling at my chest.

Talking brazenly about my body in front me while I’m leading a training class.

Placing bets on my measurements.

Just how much do you want this job?

Don’t distract the guys from getting their work done, okay?

Want to come sit on my lap?

More women in the work force should look like you.

I thought all the hot women were kept inside at stay at home wives.

We’re going to a strip club, but we’ll stay here if you give us a show.

Receiving a string bikini in the mail from a colleague.

Room number scribbled on corners of scrap paper and palmed to me in a handshake.

And the list goes on…

I documented and reported much of this behavior. My confidence as I grew older, yet still today, it’s a risk to speak up. In many cases I have spoken up and confronted the men who have uttered such disrespectful crap to me. I was met with laughter and jeers of “Lighten up.” or “Don’t you know how to take a joke?” The worst — “You should take this as a compliment.” Not once did I experience justice. Every power play was from an elected official, vice president, or heavy hitter in the sales force. These guys knew they wore teflon suits and they knew they had each other’s backs.

This is why we need allies. This is why we need more women in positions of power so we too have someone to have our back. Sure, men could and should have our back too, but so far that hasn’t been true for me.

Please read this piece I wrote ages ago. In it, I chronicle one of my experiences with harassment.  This happened to me in the nineties. Things haven’t changed.

Can we stop being surprised by this? There’s a Harvey Weinstein in every industry, every company, every branch of government. It’s time we force them out of hiding and band together as a united front against harassment. Men and women, parents of daughters and sons alike, it’s time.

It’s beyond time.

 

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