#Metoo. Sexual harassment, unwanted advances, inappropriate comments, the list goes on. It doesn’t just happen in Hollywood, it happens in every industry–in companies large and small, and not always in a hush-hush manner.
A very high-powered C-suite executive at a company we once worked with behaved inappropriately with me. Every time he attended the meetings to see new product lines, he would make comments about how beautiful/sexy I was. He did not do this behind closed doors, but rather in front of his own employees–and in front of mine (all this in spite of being a married man).
While his comments were clearly misplaced, I chose to never let them affect the businessperson, leader, or woman I consider myself to be. His ridiculous banter only served to give me a clear roadmap as to how to sell more to the company this man represented. Every time he came to a meeting, I was dressed in my womanly best–by that, I mean clothes I liked, which made me feel beautiful and highlighted the things I find attractive about myself.
I knew what he was about and I had no qualms about using his unwanted overtures against him in the most productive way possible: by goading him into spending more of his company’s money each time he came to see us. And every time, my women account reps would roll their eyes and get irritated with the way he had behaved–until, finally, a woman who had witnessed his meaningless advances wondered aloud, after he left, how I could stand it.
I gave her this piece of advice: When you get a man dumb enough to base his purchasing decisions on his nether regions, rather than on higher reason and true merit, I find getting up in arms about it is a total waste of time. His ridiculous repartee does not reduce me in any way, because I take it as a reflection of his own reduced intelligence. It signals that his wallet is located in his pants as well, and I exact retribution for each and every lewd comment he makes. I make him pay the price for his poor judgement. I take his money. I take it over and over again. And I laugh all the way to the bank–knowing that he is the one making a fool of himself, causing others not to take him seriously, to titter behind his back, and to view him as a liability.
While there is clearly a firm line between making comments about women and actually physically assaulting them, I have found that as a woman, I have been best served by refusing to be victimized by the kind of men who make comments like those we’ve heard coming from the mouths of everyone from Trump to Weinstein, and more importantly people we have likely all come into contact with at one point or another in our careers as women, like the man-boy I mentioned above. And refusing to be victimized in my mind, means one thing, and one thing only: beat these worthless specimens where it matters–not in putting off their verbal advances, but in surreptitiously controlling them with their own behavior.
The guy that I mentioned above, despite his executive title, was merely a hired gun at his company. I own mine. He no longer holds his position–but 13 years later I am still in charge at mine. He and his foul mouth have faded from the spotlight, right back into the shadows of the gutter where they belong.