When I worked in a local inner city emergency room, I specifically recall our male physican residents occasionally stepping out from a patient’s room and calling out, “I need a chaperone for a pelvic exam!” This would clear the nurses station pretty quickly as we all would suddenly recall we just forgot one more thing we had to do at that exact moment. Chaperoning a male doctor for a pelvic exam was a mixed bag. We knew it was a part of “the rules” but it was still rather awkward. For many women, pelvic exams may trigger anxiety and trauma if they are a rape survivior. For others, it’s a fear of being judged by the exam attendees if they are found to have an STD or some other issue “down there”, or because their bodies don’t look like the supermodel’s on TV. I became a registered nurse at 21 and I admit to not having the maturity to appreciate my role not just as a provider but an advocate. Shortly, thereafter, I checked that and found myself being the first nurse the doctors would grab to chaperone a pelvic exam because I had stopped running from them. Once I viewed this role as a non-judgmental, supporter and protector of women, I no longer saw this basic medical examination as something to avoid. It was an opportunity to step up on behalf of women who needed me at the time.
Today, I’m glad women all over America are starting to speak their truth about sexual harassament, assault and rape against the Harvey Weinsteins, Bill O’Reilly’s and James Tobacks… I’m also glad to see men speak out about about similar experiences. Sexual predators thrive when others cloak for them and keep their dirty little secrets hidden. Continue to take away their power, keep shining the light, make it harder for them to victimize others.
Most women don’t have to meet a shadow man at a hotel room after hours over drinks for a job? Why should any woman have to be subject to this just to pursue her dreams? Most people are in business to make money. When organizations like The Weinstein Company start losing millions of dollars over these sexual harassment/assault allegations, I’m convinced they will find a way to protect their interests going forward by putting some real rules in place, such as: a strong sexual harassment policy and training of senior staff, consenual agreements for workplace romances, a zero tolerance policy for sexually inappropriate language, office parties which are more family oriented, a swift response to sexual harassment complaints as well as a rule outlining no retaliation. I’m not naive enough to think rules will stop or even slow down a sexual predator. These folks tend to think rules don’t apply to them. They prefer to operate unchecked and unquestioned. Their inability to follow rules will make them hard to overlook and easier to get rid of but rules must be in place in order to gauge this.
Is it time to rethink the parameters of these informal networking & relationship building with Hollywood superiors and potential mentors? Does it enable sexual predators? What will it take to move past “casting couch” culture?