After today and yesterday‘s posts, I’ve experienced an outpouring of support and love from my community, and even overtures from people who have never been close to me at all. I’ve also received some shade, which I did expect, and heard about quite a bit more through mutual friends, but nowhere near the level or amount I was anticipating. It’s a bit of a relief, really.
Honestly, today has proven to me that the heart of my old company — a place that I loved so much — is still beating strong. Yes, a horrible thing happened in that office that chased away good women who had a lot to offer their teams, but it doesn’t define the people who remain either.
I did get one question that I want to address, though, so it’s getting its own post.
“Why aren’t you using names?”
The answer is simple, really: the players here don’t matter.
If you’re concerned that the man who treated us with so little respect hasn’t been punished, I’ll cut the anxiety there and assure you he has. But we’ll talk about that tomorrow.
The women who have been brought together by this experience are moving on — most had done so quite a while before my post hit the internet, actually. A few are still dealing, but the silence has been broken and now they can do so with the support of others who went through the same thing.
I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’re all simply relieved to be out of a situation that made a period of our lives horrible for a time.
So please keep in mind that we are all absolutely fine. Stronger and maybe a little less trusting. But fine.
I want to be the bigger person. I do. I want to say that every piece of me is satisfied that he got his just desserts.
And yet a small, petty part of me — that brings me zero pride — does want everyone who knew him to know what he is on the inside. I want him to be as uncomfortable walking down the street as he made me in my own home.
But that’s my anger talking, which builds every time yet another woman reaches out to me and says, “Yes. Me, too.”
I know that anger is going to fade because I know that that isn’t my story to tell. I don’t know how he became who is he or got to where he is. And that’s not an excuse for his behavior — it really isn’t because there isn’t one — merely an observation that all of this came from somewhere. No harasser or abuser is created in a vacuum.
Again, it doesn’t excuse him or the harassment in any way. But it does mean that his is not my story to tell. I’m only telling mine.
As I see it, the issue here is not who the man and women are, so names would only distract from the point. And that point is that we could have been anyone. You probably know other women who have been through what we have.
The issue is bigger than us, than this experience. And I promise you one day soon all of this crap is going to be only a small thread in the vast tapestry that makes up the lives of the women who went through this together — however unknowing we were that we had company.
We’ll always remember, of course, just like we all remember the first time we were catcalled on a street, or a man touched us without permission. But does remembering those events make us relive that anxiety? Probably not, if they were as mundane as mine. (Irritates us maybe.) And maybe it does, if they were more intense or more threatening. But, again, not my story to tell.
So no distractions. No names.
Because guess what? He doesn’t matter. He’s not important. What he did is. How we feel is. And breaking the silence we’ve placed around sexual harassment is vital.
If we stay silent, we unconsciously tell others to stay silent. Our silence tells impressionable young people that it’s not okay to share their stories, that we don’t want to deal with their pain, that they need to hide it or stiff upper lip it until we can all pretend it never happened. And I’m not comfortable being that person.
So all of that? That’s what I’m trying to write about.
4 thoughts on “Part Two and a Half: Sexual Harassment”
Hi Kaitlin! I love your writing style! Hope all is well on your adventures!
Hi Jason! It’s so good to hear from you 🙂 And thank you so much! I hope everything is great with you, too! If you’re ever in New York, let me know. I’d love to see you. -K
Kaitlin you really should sue. Rumor has it one of the cool lawyers who used to work there was fired for reporting this stuff. You should find where he is and go after the company.