The Personal #MeToo Stories from Our Own Viva Glam Team Members
As more and more #MeToo stories come out, it has become clear that almost every woman has been affected by assault or harassment in some way. This problem has moved far past the entertainment industry and presented itself in every walk of life. The “MeToo” hashtag has revealed a true problem in our society that we need to see, understand, and work to change. Perhaps this hashtag can help our population to evolve and begin treating women in a truly equal and respectful way. Our own Viva Glam Magazine team members are no exception to the #MeToo movement. See below the stories from some of the women of Viva Glam:
Coming from Europe, I’ve always been more open to sexuality than the average American. However, I’ve lived in America for 20 years, and in that time I’ve always felt that I’ve been objectified. It’s never felt right.
My first major encounter with harassment was during my first year as an immigrant in this country when I worked for a house cleaning service. One of the houses that I cleaned on a weekly basis belonged to a successful couple. While I don’t know much about the wife, the husband worked for Boeing.
The energy in this house always seemed slightly off, and I realized why one Saturday as I was cleaning there. The wife left, but the husband remained at home. While I was cleaning the kitchen cabinets, I turned around to find the man I was working for lying on his side on the couch facing me. He was completely naked with his leg up!
He said, “I hope I’m not making you feel uncomfortable.” I quickly turned back and focused on cleaning the cabinets, even though they didn’t need to be wiped down anymore. I was quickly trying to think what to say or do. The truth was, I was in his house and I needed to make the $30, so I tried to keep it cool.
I responded with, “You’re in your house. You can do whatever you want.” Since he didn’t get the response he expected, he came over to me and squatted down next to me. Not even a foot apart from my face, he asked me to go into the jacuzzi with him. I was mortified as I wasn’t sure what was coming next.
Fortunately, it ended right there. Besides feeling awkward and super uncomfortable, I was able to finish my job, take the check, and leave the house pretending that it wasn’t a big deal just so I didn’t lose that job.
I booked one of my first lead roles in a feature film. The director said he picked me because of my “beauty.” Whatever the case, I was on set one day standing next to him in the video village looking at the monitor. All of a sudden, I felt a hand come across my bottom, and then he squeezed it with force. In a nutshell, he squeezed my butt so hard it was painful. I was so shocked. I looked over at him aghast. He simply smiled at me with a wide grin. I looked behind me. Everyone else had also seen him do this! And they were looking at me in utter shock.
I didn’t know what to do, so I walked away. The AD, Leander, ran up to me outside and said, “I’m so sorry. We can’t believe it, and we all saw it too. I don’t know what to say other than I’m shocked, and I apologize.” I think he really didn’t know what to say either. I also believe he was afraid I would call SAG and file a complaint.
I think what horrified me almost as much as the director squeezing me was the look on his face. He looked as if he was saying, “I can do this, and what are you going to do about it?” It was all about power. He was right; I was so young, I didn’t do anything. And I think predators know to use the element of surprise and shock on their victims.
That was one of my first experiences with harassment. Since then, there’s been too many times to count. Most women I’ve met, from all walks of life, have been harassed. From the man who makes crude comments on the street to someone groping them, or worse.
Many men don’t realize that their actions are even considered harassment. If a woman is not interested and shows this by either ignoring a man or simply by saying, “No,” the only correct response is to leave her alone.
We need better laws and greater punishments. We should no longer hide harassment due to shame or fear of backlash. If you are harassed, YOU didn’t do anything. It has nothing to do with the dress you wore that day. Or the way you look. It is not because you are “too sexy”, “too flirty” or “too pretty” or “wore too much makeup.” Full responsibility lies with the harasser. Even the most famous porn star in the world still has a right not to be harassed by men.
I’ve learned to stand up for myself and to be confrontational if needed. And I hope the next generation of actresses and models learn this quickly because while roles are never guaranteed, harassment is.
When I first moved to Los Angeles from Richmond, VA, my commercial acting agent connected me with a headshot photographer. He was also her husband. They insisted that I shoot with him, and for those who don’t know, that isn’t something agencies can legally do. But I was new and happy to have an agent, so I shot with him.
For one of the shoot looks, he wanted me to do a “high fashion” look with no bra and with my shirt unbuttoned. I was okay with this so long as it didn’t show too much skin. Because of that, I was moving cautiously. He noticed. He came over, told me to lighten up, opened up my shirt fully before I could react, and said, “There. I’ve seen them. Now you can get over it and move around more.” I was horrified.
Later in conversation, he would randomly comment about how nice my breasts were. I don’t think I’ve ever been more mortified. I’m glad to report that I didn’t work with him again, and I am no longer with that agency.
It has become clear that women from all walks of life have been affected by harassment and assault. We can only hope that our society recognizes this #MeToo hashtag phenomena as cry for help and takes action against the now-obvious problems in our society.