#MeToo has been something I have dreamed about my whole life. I am so happy this moment has finally arrived where women feel safe to come forward and not only share, but stop predators in their tracks. I am a woman in the entertainment industry and I feel extremely grateful that I have not gone through such horror as the stories I’ve read in the NYT, Post and Vanity Fair. I have been lucky enough to have been mentored by the most kind and supporting men who truly believe in my work. That being said, I of course have experienced sexism and harassment in music and working in the restaurant industry. The more we speak out about harassment and assault, the less it will happen. Lack of consequences is what kept perpetuating this brutal behaviour towards women. It’s time for that to end.
My experience in music comes not from the business, but pleasure. I play drums recreationally and played with bands casually for a while. Anytime (I’m not kidding, like 95% of the time) I told a man I played drums, it was if on cue they would say, “wow you’re a drummer? That’s hot.” Umm… thanks? One guy I worked with said his band was looking for a drummer and I told him I played and instead of asking me how long I’ve played or what kind of music, he replied with, “that’s hot. Would you play in your bra?” I stared at him and said, “if you guys play only wearing a sock”. That ended the conversation with an awkward laugh as he quickly walked away. Yep. I’ve been bullied in bands, I’ve been asked many times if I would play in a bra (in which I give the same response. It’s foul proof to shut it down) and I was even written an extremely inappropriate e-mail by an old band member basically asking me to sleep with him. Do I really need to remind men (especially older men) that I am a part of the band that plays an instrument? I’m not a groupie, I am on your team. If you wouldn’t say these things to a male bandmate, then don’t say it to me.
I have worked in the restaurant industry since I was 18 so… long enough, let’s just say that. It baffles me how often the industry is catered to men. Fun fact, did you know that women also eat and drink at bars? I’m not sure who started this fad, but it started around 2006 and got wildly out of control, especially in corporate restaurants. There recently has been a fight against restaurant owners forcing female employees to wear high heels during their shifts. My old roommate was a cocktail waitress at – well, let’s just call it, Shirtless Moes and she was forced to wear heels for her 8 hour shift. Her feet were covered in cuts and blisters and she could barely walk by the end of her shift. I’ve worked at a bar who tried to switch the uniform to a tiny shirt and skirt. The servers were all women who unanimously refused, so we lucked out of that change. Most employees though, not so lucky. Just as a customer, you can see the sexism in restaurants. Men staff wearing comfortable T-shirts, pants and work shoes while the females are wearing low-cut tiny t-shirts with tight pants or small skirt. Trust me, it’s not by choice. Restaurants catering to men makes no economical sense. Why isolate 51% of your customers and ruin their appetite? It’s hard to enjoy your food when you feel so bad and angry for your server. I know uniforms aren’t predatory behaviour, but it’s important to paint a picture of what women have to deal with in order to have a decent paying job. Now add perverted bosses, co-workers and customers into the mix and you have the restaurant industries signature cocktail!
The argument for women to avoid these places of work is wrong, the argument is to allow the employees to complain without fear of losing their jobs or have their shifts drastically cut. A bar I worked at, the manager left work to go to a strip club and one of the servers confronted him about it and he fired her on the spot. He turned to me and said, “if you say one word to me, you’re fired too.” Sadly, this is way too common. Men in position of power in restaurants such as bar owners or managers use the same tactics as Harvey Weinstein, minus the hotel room. It’s disgusting and it happens all.the.time.
Even worse, customers also behave terribly towards women. Yep, trying to get me to hug them, they go for the high-five but hold my hand and grope me, lord help me if I say no to a date… they take a few more shots of whiskey and bother me some more. Alcohol really brings out the worst in people, and all I see is the worst.
When I started writing this blog I thought, “do we really need ANOTHER blog about this?” As you can see, yes we do. Every industry has a terrible reputation that needs to be re-written. Women need protection in the work place, in every industry. The more stories that are being told, the more likely something will be done. Someone will identify with at least one of these stories and that is saying something. Women hope that just maybe if men read these, it will bring some self awareness to having them change, or maybe, finally, believe us and support us. Two sad guy sitting in a restaurant I worked at asked me, “what are we doing wrong?” They clearly struck out that night. I said, “have you thought of talking to women like your fellow man instead of a conquest?” Sadly, they hadn’t thought of that. Men, you are better than this. Women, you deserve better. Demand more. Make change.