I am writing…
The year was 1991. A beloved vice president, John Hagan was retiring after 40 years with the company, most recently running retail security. The party was at Marriott in East Hanover, New Jersey, the room was filled with most of the various store executives. It was a beautiful tribute to a good man. The music was loud, the bar was open and the cigarette smoke hung over the crowd, laughter abounded.
As a shorter woman, I was very used to men putting their arms around my shoulders to lean down a bit to speak with me. Most of the time these were men more senior than I and so I never said anything. I was standing next to a regional director for security, his arm around me, when his hand slid down my back and patted by ass.
I know my face became red and I was flabbergasted. I turned to face him and with my finger wagging in his face, I quietly verbally castrated him. I don’t remember if he said anything, I don’t think I gave him the chance. I stormed away from him and headed to the ladies room to cool off. My friend Laura caught up to me. She saw my face and my yelling at him but didn’t know why. She tried to get me to tell her and I just played it off that he said something about someone in the office that I didn’t like. She let it go.
I tried to avoid him the rest of the party and focused on paying tribute to John. I left as soon as I could. My entire drive home I thought about it and tried to decide if I should tell my husband or someone at work. I decided not to tell anyone.
The next morning, I was having a brief conversation with someone in my office when one of our undercover security associates walked into my office. He placed a candy bar, Sorry, with a note attached on my desk. As he turned he just said, “I don’t know what is going on between you two but I was asked to drop this off.” The note was from the regional director, who was 2 levels above this man who he manipulated into delivering a candy bar. I couldn’t tell you what it said except I know it said “love.” I picked up the candy bar and note and headed right to my bosses office. I shared the entire story with him.
I never saw that director again, I don’t know if he was fired or transferred. I felt slimy and angry. Why would anyone think that is ok to do?
I never told anyone that story until this week when the NBC Trump video was leaked. I think I actually tried to ignore that it ever happened. Almost block it out.
I am writing about it to ensure that everyone knows that this really does happen. This happens to people you know. People you care about. This doesn’t just happen to strangers who everyone believes is lying because they never said anything before.
I am writing about this now to remind us all that there are people out there with big egos and they believe they can do what they want especially to those they believe beneath them. Power is a drug to many. This is still happening to people and especially to women.
I am writing about this now to remind us that the women are the victims, nothing else.
I am writing about this so I heal another level.
Your strength shines on. Stand tall, bear witness and fight back. Assault has NO place in our society. The power of you and many other women can change our culture. There is no place for this in our culture. Parents need to teach our children to keep their hands to themselves, as children and as adults. So do our schools. I hope putting these words to paper has given you some solace and personal peace. XOXO
Thank you Wayne. There is no place for this behavior.
Thanks for sharing! It’s so important that as women we tell our stories. It’s time to show #ItsNotOkay!
I agree, Suzy. Our children need to see men (and women ) behave in appropriate ways. If this male privilege continues, there will never be a time when widespread disrespect of women ends.
Thanks for sharing such a private and important episode of your life. What an essential message. So often victims feel guilty, as if we somehow provoked this lewd and disgusting behavior. Your message is a great reminder. Thank you! Love you, Suzy!! Karen
Sent from my iPhone