Belief

Do you believe in Santa Claus?

Do you believe in aliens?

Do you believe in a God?

Do you believe we should treat others the way we want to be treated?

According to the dictionary the word belief has the two following meanings:

be·lief

bəˈlēf/

noun

  1. an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
  2. trust, faith or confidence in someone or something.

 

What does it take for you, personally, to believe in someone or something? How can one chubby, white bearded man dressed in red velvet deliver gifts to every single kid on the planet in one night? Are there other species out there aside from what we know as ourselves – Homo sapiens? Do you believe and abide by words written in a book over 2,000 years ago without actual proof that any of the contents occurred? Do you believe in “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you?”

I do believe in The Golden Rule. As a kid, my folks instilled the belief of treating others the way I wanted to be treated verbally as well as through their actions. I’ve carried the belief through childhood, adolescence, high school, college and still do.

As a victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, I have found myself at the forefront of parallel universes endlessly the past three years. Traumas that have occurred in the past, are kept very much alive in my present due to the current news cycle that seriously feels like a horribly written drama for an off-brand network. Sadly, it’s fucking real. Reality.

As I live in my present, showing up for work, performing my daily tasks, and putting one foot in front of the other, I’m constantly besieged with stories and images from the news – in print and on the television – that drag me back to the very horrible moments I don’t want to keep reliving.

My thoughts on the current shit show in politics.

As a rape survivor, I’ve become accustomed to the myriad of triggers that can send me into a tailspin. I’m used to hearing and reading about the person who holds the highest position in America, and has also been accused of sexual assault by over 15 women and still was elected to run the country. I’m used to him now. That’s par for the course these days. More specifically, what has been a punch to the gut 24/7 the last week is the nomination circus surrounding the SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

What almost sent my head into outer space were the comments made by #45 – victim blaming and shaming two of the three sexual assault accusers of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over the past week.

To say this has been an extreme trigger would be an understatement.

Why didn’t Christine Blasey Ford report it 36 years ago? Jesus tap dancing Christ.

I was a freshman in high school when my very best male friend and I spent New Year’s Eve together. About five families and all of their off spring rented hotel rooms and us kids ate pizza, swam, watched movies and hung out. The ages ranged from about third grade to us two, cool 14-year-old young adults. As roughly 10 youngsters were all in a room watching a movie, most of us fell asleep. I had on a red and black plaid button-down onesie. I sat on the bed with my best friend and another one of the kids. At some point I fell asleep. When I woke up, the room was dark, and everyone was sleeping. The front of my pajamas was unbuttoned and there was a hand that wasn’t mine inside of them.

Fourteen.

What does a 14-year-old girl do? Immediately dial 9-1-1 and report an unwelcomed hand exploring the inside of her pajamas? Scream in a room packed to the gills with friends – kids, causing a gigantic commotion when she’s really just confused and scared and crying? As soon as shock wore off, this freshman girl got up to go to the bathroom, clutching her pajamas shut. I buttoned them up and then sat on the toilet, wondering what to do. It was about 2am or so. I went to my parent’s room and knocked with no answer, so I stayed outside of their room until someone else from our large party woke the next morning and pretended nothing happened. It wasn’t until my mom noticed me avoiding phone calls from my best friend and not wanting to do things with him per usual that she poked and prodded until I spilled it. I would have never, ever said anything – and there was no underaged drinking, no smoking, no drugs, no anything that I did wrong that December 31st.

Every New Year’s Eve is a sweet reminder of this – every.single.year. This kind of shit lives within you forever.

Please stop what you are doing and think about that. Think about your kids. Your nephews. Your nieces. Kids of your friends. Children you don’t know. My incident isn’t even in the slightest bit extreme and I think about it more often than I ever should. This “why didn’t she say something 36 years ago” question can kiss my fat ass.

When President Ronald Reagan nomintated Douglas H. Ginsburg in in October of 1987, he quickly withdrew his name from consideration. Why? Because NPR “revealed that Ginsburg had used weed on a few occasions” during his student days in the 1960s. And he even *gasp* used it after graduation. If weed caused a nominee to withdraw, even though it was due to behavior at least 20 years prior, I think being accused of sexual assault from three different women might suffice for the same conclusion in 2018. Bow the fuck out Kavanaugh.

Why should we believe accuser Deborah Ramirez? When, according to the man at the top of the food chain:

Fast forward to the night of my rape. I admittedly had been drinking, was an admitted emotional wreck and admittedly took a sleeping pill. So that means I deserved to be raped, right? According to POTUS and some of the current media I sure the fuck did.

It’s not me. It’s you – you fucking ass clowns.

Tucker Carlson, FOX News – on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

“Sex offenders tend to commit serial sex crimes. Doesn’t she have an obligation to tell someone? To stop him from doing that if he is, in fact, a sex criminal? And I know it’s hard, but why don’t we have a right to know? If there’s a rapist on the loose, if you don’t tell anybody … you’re part of the problem, are you not?” Carlson asked radio host Ethan Bearman. “Where’s her obligation here? What about the rest of us?”

I told. My rapist, as are thousands of others that have actually been reported, remain on the loose, Tucker.

Fuck off, Carlson.

 Newt Gingrich compared Brett Kavanaugh being accused of sexual assault to the Salem witchcraft trials.

“What he’s being put through is almost like a medieval torture,” the former House speaker told host Sean Hannity.

Fuck off Newt.

You know what’s like midevil torture? Old, rich, white men (looking directly at you Charles fucking embarrassment to my home state of Iowa Grassley) dismissing allegations because – the nerve of a victim opening their mouth out of an act of civic duty. Go fuck yourselves.

The accusers have asked for the FBI to investigate their claims. The requests have thus far, been denied. Judge Kavanaugh isn’t really on trial – he is being interviewed for a lifetime job. And of this hour – 8:27 am on the day of Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony, the vote on Kavanaugh will still take place tomorrow. What a thorough investigation.

If you are a man in this country, specifically a privileged white male, why would you be scared if you’ve done nothing wrong in this category? Have I ever done stupid things as a kid? Absofuckinglutely. But I never thought about sticking my hand down the pants of a sleeping friend. Have I been so drunk I’ve done something I regretted? Hand held high. But it hasn’t ever crossed my mind to take sexual and forceful advantage of someone else who is even more or less inebriated – or not drunk at all – while being full of alcohol myself. NOT ONCE.

I can understand the worry of being falsely accused but again and unfortunately, it does happen from time to time. According to the Our Resilience Organization

Myth: A lot of victims lie about being raped or give false reports.

Fact: Only 2-8% of rapes are falsely reported, the same percentage as for other felonies.

If you ever god forbid, find yourself accused of sexual assault, you will be presumed innocent until proven guilty because your personal freedom is at stake. Most likely it won’t come up during a job interview, as is happening with Kavanaugh. He wouldn’t go to jail or do any time for these heinous actions if he did, in fact, commit them. He would lose a job. Albeit, a very fortuitous, prestigious and important job that requires public trust, but he still has a lifetime appointment as a judge, so I think he’d be OK.

Oh you poor, dude. Being asked about your actions as a young adult.

If the Senate Judiciary Committee chooses to proceed without any formal investigation into these allegations, treating them as a “he-said, she(they)-said” matter, with no key witnesses such as Mark Judge subpoenaed to testify regarding his “lack of memory” then it would be a grave disservice. Seems as if minds of some voters are already made.

The outcome if this is the way chosen to handle this approval process? Teaching the next generation of young women and men that even if you speak up and tell someone about a sexual assault, they’ll learn it’s not serious enough to be taken at word. The next generation will learn that sexual assault isn’t deemed a crime serious enough to affect their reputation, current or future life.

Yet, here we are. I am up on a sleepless night, trying to comprehend why there is even a question how to proceed with the hearings with Dr. Blasey Ford. Who, came forward with the understanding she would remain anonymous, then was outed by media, received death threats, inadvertently put her family in danger and is in hiding over an incident that she believes took place 36 years ago. I believe her.

Everyone deserves a fair say. I just want the young generation to know that if you are ever sexually abused, assaulted or raped, your voice matters. You matter. As I watch this shit show unfold, my greatest fear is the possible negative aftermath in which these two – and all other kids – will be raised.

While one man’s prestigious lifetime appointment to a job is on the line for him, lives he literally touched in the wrong way have been altered forever. I believe survivors. I believe Christine Blasey Ford. I believe Deborah Ramirez. I believe Julie Swetnick. I believe in the courage that Dr. Blasey has to appear on a worldwide stage, forced to relive a horrendous night in her life.

There’s a short list with about 20 other names on it for a SCOTUS nomination. Hopefully, another judge will be offered the lifetime appointment with no sexual assault skeletons in his or her closet. Being a lifetime appointment, with a stellar moral compass required, the situation should not be rushed.

For myself (and countless other victims), the shame, embarrassment, and the toxicity of wanting to remain strong but feeling emotions boil over from acts that happened to me as far back as a 14-year-old rear their ugly heads because of the tone deafness in this country. And folks wonder why the vast majority of victims don’t come forward. How long has it taken some of the sexual assault victims to come forward about the abuse at the hands of priests? Double standard at its fucking finest.

If you know of someone who has experienced any kind of sexual trauma in their life, reach out. It has been a shit show of a week and hopefully, we’ve come further than we were almost 30 years ago when Anita Hill testified and was ignored.

I stand with survivors.

I hope you do, too.

CBXB

CBXB!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Out

“What I know for sure, is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” – Oprah Motherfucking Winfrey

Awards season is just starting and you can bet your ass I’m parked on my leopard couch joined by four pussies and a chug. Wine is at the ready and I watch the pre-pre-pre red carpet because you know, I’m fucking cool like that. I was a little torn on watching my typical go-to network E! because one of their longtime female anchors, Catt Sadler recently left over gender pay discrimination. But as soon as I flipped to the channel, actress Debra Messing was chastising the network on the actual network while being interviewed. She fucking rocked it.

Cheers to you and the mic drop Debra Messing.

I was all dolled up in my best black lounge wear because a movement started a few weeks ago. It’s a fund offering financial support and advice to victims of sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it after coming forward.

To date, they’ve raised over $16 million from donations made all over the world. Experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace first hand and being a survivor of rape, I’m all in on shit like this. Coming forward and speaking up is one of, if not the hardest decision victims deal with during the initial stages of shock, let alone trying to figure out if you can miss work, arrange childcare for legal appointments, therapy sessions, phone calls following up with detectives, etc…

The stars attending the Golden Globes wore black in support of this movement, Time’s Up.

While watching the red carpet, stars were asked why they were wearing black, not what designer they were wearing. As I sat listening to the heartfelt and moving answers, I started getting emotional (ew, feelings). This was a different sort of emotion that I typically associate and feel due to Rapegate. I realized I was feeling recognized – as silly as that sounds. In my experience of being raped, I still carry shame, guilt and a feeling of dirtiness every second of every day. I know that every other survivor I’ve spoken to has felt the same way at some point.

I found myself bawling watching the red carpet and I’m the world’s ugliest crier.

You guys. For real.

The first time in almost two years, I was feeling proud of myself. For sharing my story and hopefully helping other people. And for whatever reason, stars who have a global platform giving fucks about people like me really hit home.

Then when the show started, jokes were made and the mood was just as fun as a typical Golden Globes show (I particularly love when an actor wins and is kinda shitfaced when giving a speech because this is the only awards ceremony with an open bar). Seth Meyers opened the show with “good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen.” I loved it.

Cut to the first commercial break and an ad for the New York Times makes me want to go and get a goddamn subscription right now. Please check out my bootlegged version below:

Thing is, ever since the Women’s March last January, the #MeToo movement and now with Time’s Up, survivors like myself have a community. Support. Whether one has chosen to speak out, reported their incident or kept completely silent. And everything just seemed to come to fruition last night.

I’ve recently been told not to make rape “my cause” or that I am “dwelling” on it by being in therapy. I even had one of the closest people in my life tell me they couldn’t stand being around me because of all of my negative “rape” talk (side note: don’t ask me how my fucking day is if you don’t want the fucking answer). This makes me question myself. And, writing and talking about being raped as well as sexually harassed in a work environment have been my greatest allies because I feel like I can help others.

It’s sad that we live in a world where women have to ask for equality, respect and meaningful change no matter their socioeconomic status. Lack of opportunity, sexual violence, overall poor treatment because of difference in skin tone, sexual preference or gender is inexcusable. Period. Movements and organizations like Time’s Up allows survivors to know that they are not alone – never, ever alone – and personally speaking, being raped and the aftermath of it, made isolation my worst best friend.

I’m only seeing wine and my fur babies right now, thanks.

Trying to keep my stirring emotions in check, Oprah Winfrey took the stage receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award and holy fuck friends. It was the pep talks of all pep talks for the world right now.

It felt like she was in my living room (which, actually she was kinda) talking to me directly. I was in a fucking puddle. She not only touched on victims of sexual assault and abuse, she spoke to racism, free press, truth-telling and generally what it takes to make it through tragedy – hope.

“I’m especially proud and inspired by all of the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories….I want to express gratitude for women who have endured abuse and assault because they, like my mother had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. We’ve lived too long in a culture of brutally powerful men. For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

“A new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns it will be because of a lot of magnificent women and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when NOBODY ever has to say me too again.”

FUCKING PREACH WOMAN.

I mean seriously. Can I get an amen?

Watching the Golden Globes and having Oprah Winfrey give the world a rally cry reminded me of why I’m fighting my fight. Why I won’t stay silent. Why I will hold my inept detective and the Nashville Sex Crimes department accountable. Why I refuse to let anyone else feel like a walking stereotypical rape victim, as I do. Why I remain with my personal super hero therapist, Sheila. Why I don’t give any kind of fucks how uncomfortable conversations can be when I talk about my truth. Because it’s mine.

I want my Iowa twins to grow up in a world where nothing holds them back because of the color of their skin or their gender.

You break these hearts, you die.

This movement, uprising – whatever you wanna call it – is giving a voice to those who feel muted, ignored, unimportant, disregarded, not believed. And I can’t wait to join in.

Time’s up motherfuckers.

CBXB

 

ENOUGH

Did NO ONE pay attention to the lessons of body basics in kindergarten? Keep your fucking hands to yourself. PERIOD.

Sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t new. Yet every time I hear another famous name added to the growing list of sexual harassers, it triggers me in a way due to my residual PTSD from Rapegate…and my own experiences with sexual advances in the workplace.

Sexual harassment has been around as long as …well, FOREVER. There isn’t one industry that a woman doesn’t deal with this issue from men in power (and not in power). But, this morning, I had to sit down with a heavy pit in my stomach after the announcement that Matt Lauer was fired from the “Today” show effective immediately. Why? Due to “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

While the specifics haven’t been disclosed, the incident reported to the network’s HR department included enough evidence to fire an anchor that had no prior complaints and 20 year tenure with NBC news. I have watched the “Today” show as long as I can remember, welcoming Matt and co-hosts into my home, strangely feeling like we were somehow friends. Savannah Guthrie summed up her shock and confusion extremely eloquently.

Obvious shock.

“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly and I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But I do know that this reckoning, that so many organizations have been going through, is important, it’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected. We are heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for Matt — he is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he has been loved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”

It’s just that – brave women and men coming forward – telling their awful experiences endured while working in environments where it can feel impossible to share incidents of abuse or harassment. I can’t applaud the decision to severe Lauer’s employment immediately enough.

Although I loved you Matt, boy BYE.

Of course, our always professional President of the United States, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 12 women had his two cents to contribute via Twitter:

“Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”

You’re such a fucking ass clown Donald Trump.

New to the NBC network, Megyn Kelly had this to say, “I see anguish on my colleagues’ faces. But when this happens, what we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who’ve found the courage to come forward. And that is a terrifying thing to do.”

Preach Megyn.

In light of yet another revelation of a man abusing his power, I’m sharing my own story of sexual harassment in the workplace again. Because I will beat this shit like a dead horse because it’s fucking ridiculous.

As chick in the career world, I’ve been told not to wear makeup and dress down working at a construction company home office because I was too “pretty” and the construction workers wouldn’t be able to control themselves from ogling when they came into the office. I abided by the request only to be let go about six months later for not looking “professional” enough. Is that harassment? Maybe just discrimination – but still. I said nothing. I felt disrespected, of course, and I lost my job because of my looks?

I’ve heard men at more than one company bitch about having to provide maternity leave (for women who are carrying YOUR FUCKING SPAWN and need to recover) when I’ve written handbooks with maternity – and paternity – leave included.

Most recently, I encountered sexual harassment at a job where I thought I would stay until retirement. It was in the music business and I started as an office manager. While the company worked with big and small artists alike, the core of its personnel was about 10 full-time employees (two of which were female, including myself, and were also the lowest two paid peeps there…even though we both had manager in our title).

As my comrade Slappy would say….

Going into any business environment eyes wide open, I worked with a vast array of people, which is why I loved the company so much. It was the most non-politically correct place – corporately speaking – and I was a contributor in every way. Lunch banter included topics of a dude asking me about Jesus when I was wearing only a leopard bra, an instance when I was sent a dick pic and I was once told I would be “punched in the tits” from an executive if I pinched him for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. None of it bothered me because I dished it right back. It wasn’t unnatural to ask a fellow employee how their weekend was with the response, “I got laid,” to which I started responding, “me too.” Swapping dirty jokes, tales of road mayhem and being able to freely be ourselves didn’t create a hostile work environment because we all respected each other.

Typical office equipment.

If anyone fucked with me (say the dick pic sender), I knew I had an army of fellow friends/brothers who had my back no matter what. Once, a new sales person let it be known that he was going to “fuck” me (oh and he was married with a wife and kids). He was immediately terminated when upper management found out after another employee overheard me telling someone. I felt valued no matter what my sex. We were all working our asses off together and I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

Decor often left on my desk.

As the company grew, we opened a new division and naturally, more folks were hired. One of them, the COO of the division and I became friends. Hell, we were all friends – with more of a small business family feel, even as we became a larger company. This COO, who I will fondly refer to as Piss Ant from here on out, was the person who fired the dude who wanted to “fuck” me. Piss Ant gave me airline miles to go home to Iowa and see my ailing Gma one summer. Piss Ant ranted and raved and sat in my office for hours on end and asked my opinions on everything from work to personal matters. Piss Ant was my friend.

Thanks for the miles and memories.

Piss Ant also loved power. And as he was granted more of it through his ability to land deals and bring in the big bucks to the company.  His tiny head grew bigger. And bigger. And bigger. AND BIGGER.

One day, he’d gotten back from a rather rough week on the road. He came to my office and said he needed a drink.

So we got him one.

The actual day.

He proceeded to get shit faced during the afternoon and unload dirty laundry from years past, present and what was to be his future. I listened. I gave advice. I also grew increasingly aware that this situation was about to take a wrong turn.

Uh….u-turn! U-TURN!

While sipping on moonshine at three in the afternoon (almost every office had some sort of alcohol in it – and it was nothing for folks to have a drink around quitting time), his stories got more personal. More sordid. More wistful. Wistful as in telling me I had a nice ass. As in telling me he married the wrong woman…he should have married me (his wife was at home pregnant). As in telling me I would never get married because I was too good for anyone. And, as you are all well aware, I’m no shrinking violet.

Fuck the shrink.

I immediately shut the shit down. I told him to stop fucking talking. That he would regret this later that night and especially the next day. I was being ‘cool’ – level headed, and as I went to get him some water, he followed me out of the office and pulled me into one of our dark rooms where designers could come and rehearse. It was pitch black and he slammed the door shut. He kept saying he wanted to kiss me. I kept telling him to back the fuck off and that he was going to have regret.

Once I manhandled him out of my way, I opened the door and went into the bathroom. When I came out, the note below was on my desk, folded neatly. As he sat in a chair in my office and giggled drunkenly, I responded the most flippant way that I knew how and told him he needed to go home.

Oh, you want to kiss me? In your fucking dreams.

And he did. And he called to apologize. And I told him that we all make mistakes. But I kept the note. Because I knew what happened wasn’t in the slightest bit OK.

Our working relationship recovered because I think as a woman, (and anyone else who has put up with this shit before) I HAD to move past the situation professionally. But personally, I was enraged. And confused. And conflicted. Piss Ant was my superior. Piss Ant was my friend, right? (Obviously wrong). What was I to do? Who was I to tell? What would be believed? Piss Ant was the company cash cow. What would this do to my career? Would this give me a tattletale reputation in the still small music industry Nashville?

WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

This is what goes through minds when sexually harassed, assaulted, abused.

I stayed silent.

Piss Ant was promoted to CEO. I was promoted to the executive team and I had no problem going toe-to-toe with him and his dictator style of micro-managing. He once called me to ask what my employees were doing. When I rebuffed with a ‘what are your employees doing’ it turned into a two-hour conversation about how he can run his division and I can run my department. He didn’t like that – but was always quick to apologize when he overstepped boundaries or knew conversations got heated for no reason due to himself.

He didn’t just bully me. He abused his power, he fucked with people for his own ego purposes and no one in the company was upset that he traveled 90% of the time. After I was promoted to his level as an executive, the work environment got extremely hostile and toxic for me. It felt like a personal witch hunt. Here was a man who used to show people a video I made while in an ‘80s cover band that showed a helluva lot of skin (you can’t see anything – trust me, my dad made sure of it) – to acting repulsed when he saw a photo of me modeling for a fellow employee’s jewelry line (who later became my direct report).

Said employee’s jewelry site was linked briefly (like 30 minutes) to our company Facebook when she was featured as the weekly team member. When Piss Ant clicked the link and found the above picture (that had been posted 10 months prior), he called and I immediately removed the link. You cannot tell it is me. My name is not mentioned. The company name is not mentioned but I completely understood why it needed to be unlinked. Problem solved, right?

Not so much. Three weeks later, I’m sitting in an office with Piss Ant, the president of the company, and an ultra conservative business consultant who knew (knows) nothing about the music industry and this photo is again brought to my attention. Piss Ant said an employee’s wife complained. When he told me who, I went to discuss the situation with him and he had no clue what I was fucking talking about. It was Piss Ant who had the “issue”.

One week later, the employee I had ‘modeled’ for – a member of my team – was terminated without my knowledge because they were ‘eliminating’ the position. A fucking social media position. Uh huh.

One month later, my position (which consisted of human resources, all administration, marketing, branding, production of new website, public relations, merchandising, company culture, company events, outside events, all things internal and external communication wise) was ‘eliminated’ and I was told by Piss Ant that I could now report to a new hire with 30 years of experience. The hired person was 29 years of age (who no longer is with the company – surprise – and has posted on their consulting website that they created everything I did at my tenure with the company. Classy fucking people, I tell ya). If I didn’t accept the new position offered to me (the social media position they eliminated just a month before), it would be considered a resignation on my behalf.

I was told that after almost four years with the company (who still had a former executive on a six month severance, which included healthcare and phone coverage) that they owed me nothing. As the conversation among us four executives got heated, we decided to take the night.

Well, you can imagine how that sat with me.

I was totally fine with it.

I came in the next day, knowing what was going to happen. I wasn’t going to be put into a corner, lay down and take it up the proverbial ass. When I brought the situation of sexual harassment with the note to a fellow executive, I was told to keep quiet, or I would receive no severance. The president had taken pictures of a box of wine I kept by my trashcan under my desk – again no secret that drinking took place at the office, as every single manager had either a mini fridge or a full bar in plain sight. I was told their lawyer was powerful, to take my severance, and they would send an email out to the company saying they eliminated my position and we would part ways (the email sent said I left of my own accord – again FUCK OFF).

Did you guys know I like to drink? Fucking secret’s out.

After I signed termination paperwork, tears were shed by Piss Ant as he walked me out the office front door and he said he didn’t agree with the way things went down. He didn’t agree with my leaving. He didn’t agree with the hire that was made in my place (FUCK OFF. He went to lunch with the replacement, gave the replacement the budget I had created, handed my department over, etfuckingcetera). He said he wanted to help me find another job. He said he would call. AS HE BAWLED.

I have yet to hear from him.

I can only hope that no one ever treats his daughter the way he treated me. The way he treats women. The way he treats other humans in general. But I sure as shit hope karma gets him.

Karma’s coming for you Piss Ant.

Sexual harassment isn’t new. Hostile work environments aren’t new. Men (and even women) abusing their status of power isn’t new. It’s also not going away anytime soon. But for me, this is about standing the fuck up for yourself. This is about standing up for those who can’t – or don’t – or feel unable (as I did). This is about awareness. This is about placing responsibility where it belongs. On the harassers. The predators. The abusers of power.

It’s not me. It’s YOU.

My takeaway from my horrible work experience(s), the career ruiner (what if I told? what would it do to my career in the music industry? would I be judged?), my anger (I still carry) is this –  it elevated me and gave me the gusto to tell when I was raped a month later.

I will never be silent. Ever again.

I will shout forever.

For you.

For me.

For them.

ME FUCKING TOO.

CBXB

Me Fucking Too

This shit isn’t new.

Sexual harassment has been around as long as …well, FOREVER. There isn’t one industry that a woman doesn’t deal with this issue from men in power (and not in power).

I mean, hello.

As chick in the career world, I’ve been told not to wear makeup and dress down working at a construction company home office because I was too “pretty” and the construction workers wouldn’t be able to control themselves from ogling when they came into the office. I abided by the request only to be let go about six months later for not looking “professional” enough. Is that harassment? Maybe just discrimination – but still. I said nothing. I felt disrespected, of course, and I lost my job because of my looks?

I’ve heard men at more than one company bitch about having to provide maternity leave (for women who are carrying YOUR FUCKING SPAWN and need to recover) when I’ve written handbooks with maternity – and paternity – leave included.

Most recently, I encountered sexual harassment at a job where I thought I would stay until retirement. It was in the music business and I started as an office manager. While the company worked with big and small artists alike, the core of its personnel was about 10 full-time employees (two of which were female, including myself, and were also the lowest two paid peeps there…even though we both had manager in our title).

As my comrade Slappy would say….

Going into any business environment eyes wide open, I worked with a vast array of people, which is why I loved the company so much. It was the most non-politically correct place – corporately speaking – and I was a contributor in every way. Lunch banter included topics of a dude asking me about Jesus when I was wearing only a leopard bra, an instance when I was sent a dick pic and I was once told I would be “punched in the tits” from an executive if I pinched him for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. None of it bothered me because I dished it right back. It wasn’t unnatural to ask a fellow employee how their weekend was with the response, “I got laid,” to which I started responding, “me too.” Swapping dirty jokes, tales of road mayhem and being able to freely be ourselves didn’t create a hostile work environment because we all respected each other.

Typical office equipment.

If anyone fucked with me (say the dick pic sender), I knew I had an army of fellow friends/brothers who had my back no matter what. Once, a new sales person let it be known that he was going to “fuck” me (oh and he was married with a wife and kids). He was immediately terminated when upper management found out after another employee overheard me telling someone. I felt valued no matter what my sex. We were all working our asses off together and I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

Decor often left on my desk.

As the company grew, we opened a new division and naturally, more folks were hired. One of them, the COO of the division and I became friends. Hell, we were all friends – with more of a small business family feel, even as we became a larger company. This COO, who I will fondly refer to as Piss Ant from here on out, was the person who fired the dude who wanted to “fuck” me. Piss Ant gave me airline miles to go home to Iowa and see my ailing Gma one summer. Piss Ant ranted and raved and sat in my office for hours on end and asked my opinions on everything from work to personal matters. Piss Ant was my friend.

Thanks for the miles and memories.

Piss Ant also loved power. And as he was granted more of it through his ability to land deals and bring in the big bucks to the company.  His tiny head grew bigger. And bigger. And bigger. AND BIGGER.

One day, he’d gotten back from a rather rough week on the road. He came to my office and said he needed a drink.

So we got him one.

The actual day.

He proceeded to get shit faced during the afternoon and unload dirty laundry from years past, present and what was to be his future. I listened. I gave advice. I also grew increasingly aware that this situation was about to take a wrong turn.

Uh….u-turn! U-TURN!

While sipping on moonshine at three in the afternoon (almost every office had some sort of alcohol in it – and it was nothing for folks to have a drink around quitting time), his stories got more personal. More sordid. More wistful. Wistful as in telling me I had a nice ass. As in telling me he married the wrong woman…he should have married me (his wife was at home pregnant). As in telling me I would never get married because I was too good for anyone. And, as you are all well aware, I’m no shrinking violet.

Fuck the shrink.

I immediately shut the shit down. I told him to stop fucking talking. That he would regret this later that night and especially the next day. I was being ‘cool’ – level headed, and as I went to get him some water, he followed me out of the office and pulled me into one of our dark rooms where designers could come and rehearse. It was pitch black and he slammed the door shut. He kept saying he wanted to kiss me. I kept telling him to back the fuck off and that he was going to have regret.

Once I manhandled him out of my way, I opened the door and went into the bathroom. When I came out, the note below was on my desk, folded neatly. As he sat in a chair in my office and giggled drunkenly, I responded the most flippant way that I knew how and told him he needed to go home.

Oh, you want to kiss me? In your fucking dreams.

And he did. And he called to apologize. And I told him that we all make mistakes. But I kept the note. Because I knew what happened wasn’t in the slightest bit OK.

Our working relationship recovered because I think as a woman, (and anyone else who has put up with this shit before) I HAD to move past the situation professionally. But personally, I was enraged. And confused. And conflicted. Piss Ant was my superior. Piss Ant was my friend, right? (Obviously wrong). What was I to do? Who was I to tell? What would be believed? Piss Ant was the company cash cow. What would this do to my career? Would this give me a tattletale reputation in the still small music industry Nashville?

WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

This is what goes through minds when sexually harassed, assaulted, abused.

I stayed silent.

Piss Ant was promoted to CEO. I was promoted to the executive team and I had no problem going toe-to-toe with him and his dictator style of micro-managing. He once called me to ask what my employees were doing. When I rebuffed with a ‘what are your employees doing’ it turned into a two hour conversation about how he can run his division and I can run my department. He didn’t like that – but was always quick to apologize when he overstepped boundaries or knew conversations got heated for no reason due to himself.

He didn’t just bully me. He abused his power, he fucked with people for his own ego purposes and no one in the company was upset that he traveled 90% of the time. After I was promoted to his level as an executive, the work environment got extremely hostile and toxic for me. It felt like a personal witch hunt. Here was a man who used to show people a video I made while in an ‘80s cover band that showed a helluva lot of skin (you can’t see anything – trust me, my dad made sure of it) – to acting repulsed when he saw a photo of me modeling for a fellow employee’s jewelry line (who later became my direct report).

Said employee’s jewelry site was linked briefly (like 30 minutes) to our company Facebook when she was featured as the weekly team member. When Piss Ant clicked the link and found the above picture (that had been posted 10 months prior), he called and I immediately removed the link. You cannot tell it is me. My name is not mentioned. The company name is not mentioned but I completely understood why it needed to be unlinked. Problem solved, right?

Not so much. Three weeks later, I’m sitting in an office with Piss Ant, the president of the company, and an ultra conservative business consultant who knew (knows) nothing about the music industry and this photo is again brought to my attention. Piss Ant said an employee’s wife complained. When he told me who, I went to discuss the situation with him and he had no clue what I was fucking talking about. It was Piss Ant who had the “issue”.

One week later, the employee I had ‘modeled’ for – a member of my team – was terminated without my knowledge because they were ‘eliminating’ the position. A fucking social media position. Uh huh.

One month later, my position (which consisted of human resources, all administration, marketing, branding, production of new website, public relations, merchandising, company culture, company events, outside events, all things internal and external communication wise) was ‘eliminated’ and I was told by Piss Ant that I could now report to a new hire with 30 years of experience. The hired person was 29 years of age (who no longer is with the company – surprise – and has posted on their consulting website that they created everything I did at my tenure with the company. Classy fucking people, I tell ya). If I didn’t accept the new position offered to me (the social media position they eliminated just a month before), it would be considered a resignation on my behalf.

I was told that after almost four years with the company (who still had a former executive on a six month severance, which included healthcare and phone coverage) that they owed me nothing. As the conversation among us four executives got heated, we decided to take the night.

Well, you can imagine how that sat with me.

I was totally fine with it.

I came in the next day, knowing what was going to happen. I wasn’t going to be put into a corner, lay down and take it up the proverbial ass. When I brought the situation of sexual harassment with the note to a fellow executive, I was told to keep quiet, or I would receive no severance. The president had taken pictures of a box of wine I kept by my trashcan under my desk – again no secret that drinking took place at the office, as every single manager had either a mini fridge or a full bar in plain sight. I was told their lawyer was powerful, to take my severance, and they would send an email out to the company saying they eliminated my position and we would part ways (the email sent said I left of my own accord – again FUCK OFF).

Did you guys know I like to drink? Fucking secret’s out.

After I signed termination paperwork, tears were shed by Piss Ant as he walked me out the office front door and he said he didn’t agree with the way things went down. He didn’t agree with my leaving. He didn’t agree with the hire that was made in my place (FUCK OFF. He went to lunch with the replacement, gave the replacement the budget I had created, handed my department over, etfuckingcetera). He said he wanted to help me find another job. He said he would call. AS HE BAWLED.

I have yet to hear from him.

I can only hope that no one ever treats his daughter the way he treated me. The way he treats women. The way he treats other humans in general. But I sure as shit hope karma gets him.

Karma’s coming for you Piss Ant.

Sexual harassment isn’t new. Hostile work environments aren’t new. Men (and even women) abusing their status of power isn’t new. It’s also not going away anytime soon. But for me, this is about standing the fuck up for yourself. This is about standing up for those who can’t – or don’t – or feel unable (as I did). This is about awareness. This is about placing responsibility where it belongs. On the harassers. The predators. The abusers of power.

It’s not me. It’s YOU.

My takeaway from my horrible work experience(s), the career ruiner (what if I told? what would it do to my career in the music industry? would I be judged?), my anger (I still carry) is this –  it elevated me and gave me the gusto to tell when I was raped a month later.

I will never be silent. Ever again.

I will shout forever.

For you.

For me.

For them.

ME FUCKING TOO.

CBXB