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Anger, Featured, Grief, Harassment

An Open Letter To Charlie Rose

November 27, 2017

I was going to skip this week to focus on getting ready for the holidays, but I can’t without writing this letter.

Dear Charlie Rose,

You let me down. There’s no easy way to say it. You let me down. You filled in a news void with solid reporting, the ability to interview without talking over your guest, participating in discussions. You were respectful to your colleagues on CBS This Morning. You didn’t yell or use invectives.  Your voice was calm and sincere. It was a lie.

I switched to CBS This Morning the day Matt Lauer got rid of Ann Curry. I found a new home every morning. I didn’t make you into a hero, but I did listen and respect your positions. I didn’t much like Charlie Rose The Week, because it was too shallow. I watched Charlie Rose on PBS.  That black room with the black table, one interviewer and usually one, maybe two, guests was an ideal setting for your interviews.  It hid a lie.

Had anyone told me you would be swept up in #MeToo, I’d have laughed and walked away. Then, you were swept up. CBS asked questions and fired you. PBS asked questions and cancelled your shows. I wept with Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell when they had to report on the mess of allegations of sexual harassment. They were even more gobsmacked than I was. After all, they worked with you every day and believed in you. I watched you every day and believed in you. I don’t any more. You let me down.

I didn’t see you as a hero, but as a decent man who respected women. You lied to me. I thought you were upstanding. You let me down. You acknowledged your bad behavior. Sort of. Yes, you acknowledged you had behaved inappropriately. “It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that.”

Okay, so far, so good, except you made your apology all about your embarrassment and insensitive behavior. You went too far: “…I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.”

That end was not an apology. It was an excuse for your behavior. It was as inappropriate as your original behavior. It demeaned the women who stepped forward. I hope you can really accept that what you did was wrong. I hope you can find ways to make amends through actions.

Yes, Charlie Rose, you let me down. You lied to me.

Sincerely,
Betsy Ashton

Featured, Harassment, Lifestyle, Women's Perspective

#MeToo

November 20, 2017

I hadn’t planned to write about the #MeToo movement. Some of my readers might think it too political for all the places this blog posts. The more I think about what is happening, the more I know I can’t remain silent.

#MeToo started with a few women speaking up about sexual harassment. Without going into details, these women stood up and talked about how some men had demeaned them, had exposed themselves. had touched them inappropriately. The list grew daily with women in entertainment, business, and politics feeling emboldened. No longer hiding in the shadows, these women stepped into the light, risked ridicule and having their reputations impugned, and stood steady under verbal assaults from too many different sources to name here.

It’s not just in the US where #MeToo has brought the issue of sexual harassment into the light. I’ve read posts from all over the English-speaking world, including India and Pakistan. Women everywhere are no longer silent.

Yes, I was the victim of sexual harassment. When I was early in my professional career, I traveled with my VP, my Managing Director, and a technical manager overseas. I was the only woman. I had no thought that anyone would say anything inappropriate, but on the first night, the VP offered to “take the edge” off my, um, “tension.” He said I’d be on the road for two weeks and would probably like a little “servicing.” Yes, servicing, like I was a cow in heat. I turned him down. He never made a second move, but I was never in the same room with him without a lot of people around.

By the standards of what is being reported today, this encounter was almost benign. And yet it wasn’t. The VP made me feel dirty, like I was coming on to him, and that I couldn’t be away from home for two weeks without needing sex.

I don’t want this post to be only about what happened to me or to these other women who have the courage to name names, places, and feelings.

I want this lesson to be the LAST time we have to talk about sexual harassment. I want this movement to make real changes in how we respect both men and women, because men are often victims of sexual harassment themselves. I want my daughters and granddaughters to know that they can speak up immediately. More, I want them not to have to speak up, because we have changed our behavior. I don’t want them to have to tell a person in power that you aren’t interested in their overtures. I don’t want them to have to tell a man to talk to the right boob because it’s getting jealous of the attention he’s paying to the left one. I don’t want them to have to look over their shoulders to be sure no one is stalking them at school/church/on the job/wherever. I want the next generations to feel as safe as they should be. I want them to wonder what all this craziness is all about, because it’s no longer an issue for them.

Are you with me? Are you ready to stand up with me and say #MeToo?

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