An 80's Gal with Big Dreams.
Note: The piece I wrote below has no connection to WCCO (video above). It took place at another TV News Station in one of the several TV News outlets I worked for across multiple states.
I wrote this three years ago. Before #MeToo made national headlines. Before Bill Cosby was convicted. I wrote it to one man after he reached out to me decades after his Harvey Weinsteinish advances.
I took out the names of those involved, because while at the moment I want to vent, I'm not interested the possible drama of publicly outing someone - even if he greatly deserves it. He's old and gray and retired. He's no longer in a position to wield his authority over others. I also know that he earned a Harvey Weinstein reputation in the newsroom. I know other newsrooms became aware of his ways, and his job opportunities dried up, in spite of all of his awards. As they should.
The movie Bombshell triggered me. I left angry. I also left grateful to fellow Minnesotan Gretchen Carlson, as well as Megyn Kelly for taking a huge risk to speak up against sexual harassment. I am further grateful that as my daughters now begin internships, the culture is changing. Grateful that we are talking about it. Let's keep talking about it. Let's make sure our sons and daughters never repeat the past.
(I wrote this in response to a man who "mentored" me in an internship 20 years ago, and just reached out wanting to reconnect)
Dear (name withheld),
I know of whom you speak. But I am not that person.
That person wanted to believe in the best in people, and was inexperienced in the ways of the world, so she opened herself up.
Thank you for the lesson.
She learned that she should always check with her boss" boss before venturing on a weekend documentary shoot with promises of an Emmy. Before being put in incredibly difficult circumstances with one naked man coming out of a sauna, and the man she so admired and trusted, copping a feel.
That person grew up over that summer. She remembers you pouting after she refused your advances. Laughing, asking where you thought it could possibly go. She remembers you, a man twice her age, and her boss in the newsroom telling her you were getting a divorce and that "these things" (your friendship with her) have been known to turn into marriage." To this day, she coughs back a bitter laugh at the thought. What a joke.
She remembers the looks you traded with the famous man who was the subject of the documentary. You the wolves. She was something to be devoured.
She remembers the famous man taking a cue from you, and offering big dreamy gigs... she got to be a Public Relations representative for a multi-platinum Grammy winner for a brief moment. And then that famous man... also twice her age, kissed her to her confusion and dismay. It became all the more upsetting when she befriended a fantastic young woman in her class, only to discover that she was his daughter. Her dad kissed your young ingénue and invited her up to his hotel room. I suppose he figured she was into older men, the way she hung out with you.
She is older and wiser now. And she is very wary of men who use their power and position to try to sway women. She is wary of men who collect pretty Facebook friends like trophies. She knows better.
People like that disgust her.
So again, thank you. She thanks you. You see, your lesson.... That internship... also helped bring out her little voice. The voice now screams. She still gives idiots a chance from time to time, but she has a very low tolerance for would-be players, cheaters, and generally shallow, selfish men. She already learned about them in her very first internship.
When she hears about Bill Cosby in the news, she thinks of you. You took her to dinner, and bought this underage girl glasses of wine. You held up promises of favors to help her get ahead, and she so wanted to believe it was for the right reasons. But that little voice kept getting louder. Until one day, she called you. She was applying for a job at that very place of business where the two of you won your Emmy together. She wanted to claim it on her resume. You told her she couldn"t. Nobody knew the work she put in. Nobody knew. Except you. Nobody knew that you made her stay in the same hotel room as you. Nobody knew about all the crap you fed her... slowly over time so that she"d buy it. This was her first big foray into her dream job. She was bright eyed and eager... and you fed her the nectar that would lull her into believing your ever expanding pile of bullshit.
Your internship helped her navigate the many men who came after you. Playing the same old power cards... offering bullshit stories now so obvious she just brushes them away like inconsequential dust. And she appreciates the GOOD MEN all the more. She is go grateful for honest, trustworthy, ethical, men who aren't controlled by lust.
Yes. Thank you. She has graduated and gone on to do great things. And love great people.
You can no longer reach her. The naive ingénue has traded in her naiveté for something else. Something you can never touch.
As for me, I still look for the best in people. But I also take a cue from Maya Angelou. When someone shows me who they are, I"ll believe them the first time. Second chances for a microscopic few... the rest... will have to go knocking elsewhere. This door is closed.