Women Friendly Workplace Campaign Speakout
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From a High School Sophmore
- Subject: From a High School Sophmore
- From: Anonymous <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 19:53:33 -0500 (EST)
I am a sophomore at a small private college preparatory high school.
Last semester, I took a leadership position in our drama department's
fall production. This position involved working closely with approximately
25 other students and two directors, faculty members at our school.
Producing this play required an incredible commitment of time for me
and the other members of the production. We often spent up to 10 hours a
day on weekends in the theater rehearsing and preparing.
During this play, I was the victim of sexual harassment from one of the
actors, a member of my class, a fellow sophomore. I had known "John"
since freshman year and, although he was not a close friend, I did consider
him to be one of my friends.
However, when I was put in a leadership position above him, I saw a drastic
change in Johnís personality. Among other things, he began to make
insulting sexist comments.
"You should either be standing in front of a stove cooking, sitting in a
rocking chair nursing a baby, or getting your husband a beer."
"Why do the actresses have extra clothes in their dressing room? In
case theyíre feeling bloated and canít fit?"
Finally, I decided to try to reason with him. I explained that I found
them degrading and insulting, and that I would appreciate it if he would stop.
He attributed this confrontation to "PMS," and began to openly attribute
any further protest to his comments or behavior to my menstrual cycle.
Although his behavior was beginning to affect my performance with the
play and in school, I did seek any sort of retaliation or justice for his
actions. I reasoned that reporting him would do more to disrupt the play
than to help me.
The harassment became physical two week before opening night. During the
last two weeks, he grabbed me several times and brushed past me whenever he
got the chance. He asked me to put my hand in his pocket (I was trying to
give him some coins). When I refused, he replied with "Oh man, I
thought Christmas was going to come early this year!" I felt humiliated and
He never did anything when other members of the cast or crew were around; he
always waited until we were alone. I did my best to stay away from him,
but wherever I went, he seemed to always be there.
I am extremely reluctant to resort to physical violence of any type, but
finally I did. On opening night before the performance, he told me a
vulgar, offensive, sexist joke. I felt that I had to stand up for
myself, so I slapped him, hard. This had an affect on his behavior
temporarily, but after the performance he had returned to his
My parents knew what had been going on, but they respected my wishes at the
time not to report what had happened.
When I told my mother that I had resorted to slapping him, she knew I
had had all I could take. The next day, on closing night, she confronted
him about his behavior and told him to stop. Since then, he has left me alone.
My mother also had a discussion with the director about what had been
going on. He was disgusted and wanted to go directly to the principal, but
my mother told him that I did not want to report what had happened to
any higher authorities. I was too embarrassed and ashamed, and my
greatest fear was that people would find out what had happened.
Before my experience, I was not aware of any kind of sexual harassment
taking place within my school. I would never have expected this
kind of behavior from John.
I hope that my story can help others to realize that sexual harassment
is a problem in our schools and that, often, no one sees it happening.
Even the people I had been working with closely for two months in the
play had no idea of what had happened to me.
It still makes me mad when I hear teachers at school, when confronted
with the question, say that they donít think sexual harassment
is a problem at our school. I wish I could use my story to help
raise awareness at my school, but I am still too humiliated and
embarrassed to tell anyone there what happened.
I hope that, by publishing this story here, I can inspire others to
help combat this kind of damaging behavior in our schools.
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