Reporting sexual harassment in the workplace, especially in entertainment and politics where power rules, has reached a feverish pitch in the last few weeks. I sent my story to www.wesaidenough.com where they are very concerned about confidentiality. I have some problems with this as I think naming names is a very good thing. I also have problems with women who say, 30 years later, that they were forced to do things to and for men to advance their careers. For example, the actress who said she was forced to perform oral sex on a film producer. To my way of thinking, this is a very proactive endeavor, and I truly feel she could have taken a huge bite out of the problem and really made some news, right there and then.
My tale is as old as time. I quit college and married way too young to get away from a bad home situation and within a short time, divorced and headed back to college in Philadelphia, this time on my own dime. I found out about Congressional internships in Washington D.C. and was on the next Amtrak. I was hired by the Congressional Clearinghouse on Women’s Rights. Here’s how the Congressional Record explains what it was:
The Congressional Clearinghouse on Women’s Rights began operation in June 1975. Established by Representative Charlie Rose (D-NC), the Clearinghouse provides an information service about women’s rights to participating members of Congress. The Clearinghouse publishes a weekly newsletter which they hope will deal broadly with the issues involved in equality and rights for women. A bibliography of articles (news and research), books, editorials and Congressional Record inserts, a compendium of legislation affecting women, guest editorials, and information on pertinent federal regulations of concern to women, are included. In the future, they are planning to expand the scope of the newsletter and are interested in knowing about pertinent research, etc, that anthropologists might be involved in. Members who would like to contribute information and/or source materials to the Clearinghouse or wish to find out more about it should write Carol Forbes, Director & Legal Counsel, Congressional Clearinghouse on Women’s Rights, 722 House Annex Bldg, Washington, DC 20515, Supporters hope that as the Clearinghouse becomes better known among members of Congress, it will have a significant effect on the Hill. It already has played a role in defeating attempts to disapprove Title IX.
In fact, Carol was having a high-powered affair with Charlie who was funding the Clearinghouse in a nearby House annex building, and was anything but the fabulous feminist she purported to be.
Within a short time, I was offered a full-time job with a nice salary and the opportunity to attend American University Law School. I was quite proud of my accomplishments as a legislative aid and obliviously naive.
The day AFTER I accepted the job Charlie called me over to his office in the Longworth House Office Building. He said, “Chris, I’ve been good to you, haven’t I? Now it’s time you start being good to me, ya hear.”
Duh. So there and then I told Charlie he’d better go ‘f himself because I certainly wasn’t going to. Ever. He was not happy about that response.
Later that evening I attended a cocktail party — parties, mixers and networking events occurred just about every evening with the Congressional crowd. Charlie was there and saw me walk in the door. He leaned over to his buddy Doug Frost, who was the pervy Congressman Wayne Hay’s staff director a/k/a henchman, and minutes later Doug came over to me and pulled down the front zipper to my black velvet jumpsuit. I remember seeing the bow on my underwear pants as I guess everyone else did.
I zipped up and left the party; the next day I loaded up my car and headed back home.
Charlie even called me at my parent’s home to give it one more shot. My father told me he didn’t know I knew the kind of vocabulary I retorted on the phone.
And I’ve succeeded just fine without appeasement.
I am a filmmaker, writer and lawyer. I work with my husband of 37 years and he’s a lovely man and my best friend.
My caveat to all young women who are being asked to compromise their integrity — don’t ever do it.