Women Share ‘Me Too’ Stories at Queens Public Hearing

HOST INTRO: Recently, a wave of sexual harassment allegations has filled headlines nationwide. The New York Commission on Human Rights gathered in Long Island City last week to hear from everyday women about their Me Too moments. Kelsie Blazier reports.

 

BLAZIER 1: High-powered men from producers to senators have been accused of unwanted touching, lewd comments and straight up assault. They are now facing public scrutiny for their actions. But according to Washington D.C. Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, we have only scratched the surface when it comes to addressing inappropriate behavior in the workplace. (:15)

 

HOLMES 1: The only reason we are discussing this issue is because women have come  forward to do something that is very risky to indicate that they were harassed. (:08)

 

BLAZIER 2: Holmes Norton flew into New York City from Washington D.C. Wednesday evening, to speak at the New York Commission for Human Rights public hearing about sexual harassment in the workplace. (:11)

 

BLAZIER 3: The goal of the hearing was to bring attention to victims of harassment who don’t make headlines — everyday employees. The commission took testimony from the hearing and plans to write recommendations for employers on ways they can better address harassment in the workplace.

 

BLAZIER 4: Nearly 30 women – including carpenters, store clerks and models –  testified at Wednesday’s hearing. Lauren Switzer is one of them (:04)

 

SWITZER 1: I don’t know all the legal jargon, but what I do know is my experience and I do know how to tell the truth (:06)

 

BLAZIER 5: Switzer has been working in the modeling industry for 12-years. She describes herself as assertive and says she tries to be safe when going to castings. But she says that doesn’t stop bad behavior on set. (:10)

 

SWITZER 2: I was on set, it was a job. it started – he greeted me by looking me up and down saying “wow, she wasn’t wrong about you.” :08)

 

BLAZIER 6: She says the photographer’s behavior only got worse. (:2)

 

SWITZER 3: Every time he took a photo that he liked he would moan in a sexual way (:04)

 

BLAZIER 7: Switzer says this behavior is so common in the modeling industry, most agents have shrugged off her complaints.

 

SWITZER 4: Everybody glamorizes modeling but in actuality it is a hard job. And when people of power abuse that and think we’re there for fun, it gets dangerous (:11)

 

BLAZIER 8: And the younger you are when it happens, the harder it can be to push back. Caridad Castro was a child working at a chain grocery store when her superior began harassing her.  (:12)

 

CASTRO 1: He was 32 and I was 13. He would kind approach me and you know, corner me and basically try to come onto me.(:09)

 

BLAZIER 9: As a young teenager, Castro didn’t know how to say no.

 

CASTRO 2: And eventually you know, I did let him kiss me because it was my first job and I didn’t want to lose it (:09)

 

BLAZIER 10: Unlike Castro, other women didn’t fear losing their jobs if they said no — they just thought of harassment as business as usual. Longtime journalist Lynn Povich says in the newsrooms of the 1970s, a man kissing you or putting his hand on your knee – that was normal.

 

POVICH 1: Did you deal with it because you were afraid you’d get fired? No. You just dealt with it because it was baked into the sexualized culture of the time.  (:09)

 

BLAZIER 11: Many are calling the outpouring of harassment and assault allegations a watershed moment for women’s rights. But Povich, author of The Good Girls Revolt, was part of a lawsuit that changed the landscape for working women 40 years ago.

 

BLAZIER 12: She was part of a group who sued Newsweek in the 70s for gender discrimination – and won. The Newsweek lawsuit prompted women at TIME Inc, NBC, Sports Illustrated and the AP to also sue their employers. (:16)

 

POVICH 2: I mean we were sort of astounded by the ripple effect because we hadn’t actually thought beyond our own situation. We did what we did because we wanted to make it better for women at Newsweek. (:10)

 

BLAZIER 13: Ultimately their suit over fair pay and promotions made life better for a lot of other women as well. Just as many women opening up about harassment today hope their stories will improve life for future generations.  

 

Kelsie Blazier, Columbia Radio News. (:08)

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