In support of Rosy and Tessa regarding my boss, Jeff Boxer.
I am so grateful to Rosy Nolan and Tessa Lena for speaking up about the conduct of my boss, Jeff Boxer. As the sole female employee of the Content Creators Coalition, I have experienced Jeff Boxer’s sexism, and I think that there is no better time to talk about this issue.
Since the incident involving Rosy occurred in September of 2016, I have fought for a proper investigation. To say I have failed at achieving this is an understatement, and as a result of my push for consequence, I have been bullied, discredited, attacked on both personal and professional levels, and eventually cut out of pertinent information, making it incredibly hard to perform my job.
I do not think that any man who acts in the way that Jeff Boxer has acted with women should be in a position of authority. Full stop.
I take issue with the varying classifications of predatory behaviors. Tolerance for creepy behavior is a slippery slope and that slope is greased and steepened each time a man who behaves inappropriately is given more authority in the workplace.
My story with Jeff Boxer is not one of sexual assault, but my story does serve to illustrate how men like Jeff Boxer remain in positions of power. It is important that we continue to talk about the culture of sexual predation and therefore also important that we talk about how these men are kept in a seat of authority, enabling them to protect their predatory behavior.
Shortly after I began working under Jeff Boxer in 2015, Tessa Lena quit working with c3 (I encourage anyone reading this to read her account as well as Rosy Nolan’s account). Jeff came to me directly and told me that he was being accused of sexual misconduct. I was new at the job and nervous to question what had happened. Jeff took control of Tessa’s narrative and worked to discredit her, calling her crazy. Jeff’s tone regarding Tessa was annoyance- the way that a mid-day tropical rainstorm might threaten your beach day, but not your whole vacation, an apt metaphor for Jeff’s male privilege and dominance in the organization. Despite the complaints filed by Tessa, Rosy and myself about Jeff Boxer, his ‘vacation’ remains unspoiled.
My own personal experience with Jeff’s behavior towards women started with a bad joke here and a sexually inappropriate comment there that hovered over the line without crossing it. As time went on, his behavior and comments worsened. On one occasion he told me about wanting a date with a female c3 artist, on another occasion; it was reported back to me that he tried to talk about “getting pussy” with a male c3 member.
I finally began to complain about how he spoke about women when he told me he thought that important men have hot assistants.
I was regularly on all-male conference calls and quit two of them, citing sexism as the reason. The final straw was having my work priorities dismissed only to have to listen to the men trash a female c3 artist behind her back, making fun of her mental health.
My husband and I had dinner with Jeff the night before Rosy Nolan arrived in Nashville. Jeff made a wildly inappropriate joke about how she would just have to stay with him since he had not booked her a hotel. I was furious about the situation and the joke. In parting ways, Jeff assured me that he would be giving his Airbnb to Rosy and he would be getting his own hotel out of his pocket.
My husband was leaving for a three-week tour the following morning, so I allowed myself to trust Jeff to do the right thing. I regret trusting him.
I was horrified the next morning when Rosy called me and described what had happened. I immediately called Jeff, who in turn attacked Rosy and me. He said that he wished Rosy would just “be cool” about it and that this was one reason that “men find it hard to work with women.” He claimed that Rosy was uncomfortable with the situation because she had insomnia, NOT because she had been lured to Nashville under false pretenses, lied to, and made to have only one option of sleeping next to Jeff.
Jeff would argue that there was an investigation of this incident, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Jeff and c3’s President (who was out of the country when this happened) were the only two people to author an official letter detailing the incident which was then submitted to the board. Neither Rosy nor I were ever contacted for this alleged ‘investigation,’ and I was told that I should not reach out to the board regarding the incident and that if I did, I would most likely embarrass myself for doing so. Eventually, I was even told that I should no longer be in contact with Rosy.
With such a great distrust of Jeff, I began withholding artists’ contact information from him. I stopped setting up meetings for him, and I pulled the plug on an op-ed I had been negotiating. I did not want any artists I worked with to have an association with this man. I continued working on the education program I had been building in Nashville and tried to do as much as possible without Jeff Boxer’s involvement.
I went to the President of c3 a handful more times between September of 2016 and the spring of 2017 to complain about sexism. Things reached a head when I accused Jeff of sexism on a conference call in the late spring of 2017. He kept his calm and said he wanted to speak to me alone. Once everyone else was off the call, he tore into me with the vitriolic aggression of a spurned lover. I was in shock and eventually I was able to blurt out something about my claim regarding the sexism. He screamed back at me, “your feelings have no basis in fact.”
After that call I decided to contact John McCrea, c3’s vice president, despite being told on several occasions not to do so. John encouraged me to write an official letter detailing my experiences to the board. It is important for me to note that I feel that John McCrea and Thomas Manzi have handled this situation to the best of their ability. I consider them to be my allies within the organization.
Despite John and Tommy’s involvement, once I submitted my letter, c3’s President immediately forwarded the letter to Jeff. No warning, no formal procedure, nothing.
I cannot stress how dangerous this was for me. I am the sole female employee of this organization. I was afforded absolutely no protection, while Jeff was given the advantage. Jeff, with a past pattern of dangerously misogynistic behavior and with a law degree, was given the advantage to come after me, and he did.
I immediately started hearing about Jeff’s campaign to discredit me, my work, and my claims against him. My performance reviews had been good before I wrote the letter, but after the letter Jeff was telling various board members that I was a “spoiled kid of country music royalty and that I was just interested in doing work that was fun for me.”
Over the last 15 months I have demanded that proper bylaws on sexual predation and sexist workplace behavior be written for our organization. No such bylaws have been written. In fact, Jeff told me to write them myself when I first complained about sexism.
Working for Jeff Boxer has been a slow burn of sexism and power games. His particular brand of misogyny is equal only to his lack of transparency. Absolutely none of my concerns or complaints have been handled in a way that feels comfortable to me.
I have listened to Jeff speak about women and artists he claimed to represent as if they were nothing more than objects. I watched him discredit two women’s claims, and in the end, I was no different. I am in a position of privilege and I have a safety net which affords me to speak out against my sexist boss. I shudder to think of how many women have stories like mine who could not take the chance of publicly speaking out.
To me, the worst part of my experience working for Jeff Boxer is the devastating loss of talent, time, and productivity. It is almost too painful to think of what we women could accomplish if we were not squandering our energy and resources fighting sexism, harassment, and assault.
I demand better. I demand better for Tessa and Rosy and any other woman who had been made to feel belittled, less than, and preyed upon. I demand better from the people that give these type of men their authority and power. I demand better from the organization I have worked so hard for.