#Metoo, “is it affecting you negatively?” and the ick factor.

I started this blog to promote and discuss my doula business, but before all things prenatal took over my life I worked for many years as a dresser in the Theatre. My former colleagues are reeling over the revelations about Albert Schultz but a common thread is this: no one is surprised. I worked for Soulpepper many times during my career, and while I was not personally subjected to Mr. Schultz’ advances I have no doubt in my mind that the four women accusing him are telling the truth.  One of the first Soulpepper shows I worked on was directed by him, and I remember the discomfort I felt witnessing what I can only call his overtly sexually aggressive directing style. I was shocked by his liberal use of the ‘c-word’.  I heard all the gossip, and I felt the atmosphere in the air. When the revelations about Harvey Weinstein came out, and everyone was shocked/not shocked, like everyone else I thought ‘how could such stuff go on for so long, under everyone’s nose, without anyone doing anything?’ But I do understand. The atmosphere is set by the boss. And young people coming in think, “I guess this is how it’s supposed to be or he wouldn’t be the boss” and we suck it up to keep working.

I’d like to think if I’d walked in on something more obvious, more sinister than just ‘locker room talk’ , something that looked like assault – I’d like to think I would have said something, stepped up, helped out. But it’s more likely that I would have just backed out of the room and mumbled ‘sorry’ and felt awful. Trish, Kristin, Hannah and Diana – if I let you down, if I was there and chose not to see what was happening to you, I’m so sorry. I believe you. I’m here for you now.

I worked on a show once at another theatre, it was set in Africa and the costumes didn’t leave much to the imagination. The wing space was limited, and there was a point in the show when I and most of the cast -the handsome, fit, half naked cast- were squashed close together waiting for a scene change. Every single show I was subjected to some kind of suggestive comment, joke, grope, pat, lewd facial expression – you name it. When I mentioned it to my supervisor she asked ‘Is it affecting you negatively?” And the truth is, I was single, they were hot, it was kind of fun and no, it was not affecting me negatively. But it could have. It was inappropriate, and it should have been shut down.

Maybe the only thing that separates flirting from harassment is the ‘ick factor’.  And in retrospect it was totally icky.  I know what it’s like to brace yourself for what you know is coming, what you can’t avoid, and what shouldn’t be part of your job.

This shit has to stop.

 

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