I’ve been watching the news, reading the stories online, and listening to the voices of women relaying their experiences on the radio. Every time another victim speaks, I feel guilt for not speaking out years ago. Today, thanks to those women, I found my voice. For those who have been paying attention to all of the celebrity stories of sexual misconduct and harassment, let me tell you – it also happens here.
When I first started my career in media, I was pushed and pinned up against the back of a control room wall. The popular radio host pressed his body against mine. He held my arms back. He looked directly in my eyes and said: “If you want to go further in radio, you have to play the game.” This was done to me by a very well-known, popular, and powerful media personality here in Newfoundland. I was scared, alone, and I didn’t know what to do. I had just finished an overnight shift, and nobody else was in the radio station with me except for him. I managed to get away from him when another employee entered the building. I was shaken, but continued to work there, trying as best I could to avoid him. I even attempted to bring my concerns to the Harassment Committee at the radio station, only to find that the committee was made up of all males, including my harasser. I felt too intimidated to pursue it.
But, I shouldn’t have been surprised, as the job itself involved a certain level of sexual harassment on a regular basis. One of our required duties was to promote the radio station in the downtown bar scene – handing out promotional materials, smiling pretty, and socializing with our listeners. At such outings, we were often met with cat-calling, ass-slapping, sexual propositions, and groping from the people we met. However, when I would complain, I was told that while I was wearing the jacket displaying the call letters and logo for all to see, then I was representing the station. They failed to address my concerns.
Although this happened to me almost 30 years ago, sadly, sexism still runs rampant in the media. I hope that this will encourage others who have similar experiences to come forward.
Kathy Rowe, 51