Saturday, February 2, 2019

Harassment, Pt. 3.

I was chit-chatting with a day playing grip* when he suddenly leaned in, ran his fingers through my hair, and whispered in my ear, "You're so sexy." Then, after a moments pause, he continued on with our conversation like nothing had happened. Like he didn't just creep me out. Like he hadn't just turned my place of work in to a place where I didn't feel safe.

I felt disgusted and violated, but I didn't want to make a scene. It took another couple minutes before I could extract myself from the conversation and walk away from him.

After the next lighting set up, I found myself at crafty with our On Set Dresser. I don't remember how it came up, but I mentioned to her that a virtual stranger had just ran their fingers through my hair and relayed what he had said. She was shocked.

"On this show??"
"Yup. About ten minutes ago."
"Who was it?"
"One of the grips."
She shuddered and walked away.

Sometime later, I'm sitting by myself on set when my friend the Dolly Grip comes up to me.

"Is it true?" he asked.
"Excuse me?"
"I heard from On Set Dresser that one of the guys ran their hands through your hair and said some inappropriate things to you."
"Oh, yeah. That's true."
"Who was it?"

I wouldn't tell him.

"Listen," he said, "I'm not going to make you tell me. But I wish you would. I can make sure he doesn't come back. I won't even report it if you don't want me to. He just won't get hired back. He won't even know why. He just won't get a call again."

I looked at him for a moment. It sure sounded like a good offer. But with just one catch: "How can you guarantee that? You don't do the hiring for your department."

"I'll talk to Key Grip," he replied, so sure of himself. He had apparently thought about this. "I'll just tell him not to hire this guy again and it'll be done."

Again, I refused to tell him who it was.

He started to plead with me. "Look, I can understand why you don't want to say anything. I really do. But it won't be made a big deal. No one will know why he's not around anymore. HE won't know why he's not around anymore. No one will know but you, me, and Key Grip. Again, it's your decision. I'm not going to make you tell me. But I think you should say who it is."

Again, I shook my head.

And then he pulled out his Ace. The card that made me almost tell him.

"It's not just yourself you need to think about. If he did this to you, he'll do it others. Who else will he do this to? Who else will he touch? We can send him away and he won't do that to anyone else here. If he gets away this time, he'll think he can get away with it again."

I paused hard at that one. I thought about it. I really did. I almost caved. But again, I just looked at him and said nothing.

He was frustrated. He wanted to protect me, and others, and he couldn't do a damn thing about it. "Well," he said, "Like I said, I'm not going to make you tell me. But if you change your mind, just say the word. Just let me know. No one else will know if you don't want. He'll just go away and won't have the chance to harass you again, or anyone else here."

I nodded and thanked him and he walked away, back to work.

I would have loved to have called this gross, motherfucking Grip out, who couldn't keep his hands to himself. I would have loved to embarrass him and have everyone know just how inappropriate he is and how he treats women. I would have loved to have reported him to Production and watch his ass tossed to the curb, his name smeared around town as someone you couldn't hire.

That would've been great.

But that wouldn't have happened.

My friend the Dolly Grip may not have agreed with me, but I was thinking about protecting other women in my shoes. Just not in the same was he was.

Key Grip may have been his friend, but he's very "old fashioned" in many ways. He curates a "Boys Club" type of vibe in his own department, and has made a racial slur or two in my direction before, all in the name of joking around. The world may be becoming too "PC" for his taste, but that doesn't stop him from making sexist "jokes" or hiring only white males.

If Dolly Grip had asked Key Grip to stop hiring one of his guys, he'd ask why. And Dolly Grip would have to tell him that he harassed one of the crew members. And even if Dolly Grip didn't tell him who, Key Grip would still figure out that it was me.

Out of the few women on set, I was essentially the only one who had spoken to the Grip. Key Grip knows this. He was the one who got our conversation going, telling him how I've been giving the other guys hell before laughing and walking away when he was called back to set. It wouldn't be that hard to figure out it was me. Other than make-up/hair/wardrobe and the On Set Dresser, I was the only woman on set, and there's no reason for him to be around them, unlike me since he and I happened to be covering the same light.

And he'd end up sticking up for the Grip. He's think that I'm blowing it all out of proportion. That I must've misunderstood something. That his guys joke around all the time. "Are you sure she's not overreacting? You know how women can get. So he touched her hair and gave her a compliment? How is that so bad??

Plus, have you seen her? She's hanging around us grips all the time. And she hangs around the camera guys. She's always chilling with transpo, too. She just loves the attention. She obviously likes it when the guys drool all over her. So you can't blame a guy for looking. You can't blame the guy for getting the signals wrong when she's flirting with everyone.

See, this is why women don't belong here. This is a man's world. Women just don't get it. They're too sensitive. They can't hang with the boys and now I can't hire someone I've known for YEARS just because some girl is blowing this all out of proportion."

If I had given Dolly Grip the Grip's name, it would've taken care of my immediate problem, but it would've likely hurt in the long run. I'm a woman in a male dominated industry who has not seen much change towards gender parity compared to when she first started in this business over a decade ago. And while the Key Grip doesn't get a say in who hires me, he does get a say in who he hires and you can guarantee that women will get knocked further down his list. Which creates a virtual vortex for his already all male crew. If they spend all their time working with no women, what are the chances of them hiring one in the future when they move on to different shows?

Even if the Grip gets kicked to the curb, he'll still be a card holding member of The Boys Club. And while he'll still find work somewhere, other Club members who hear about this (because let's face it, guys do love to gossip) will question what the benefits of hiring women are if they're just going to come in like a wet blanket and take the fun out of work.

I'm a believer that you can't make change unless you have a seat at the table. And I'm not even going to get an invite to the party, let alone a seat, unless I play nice for at least a little bit. No one's going to hire me if all I do is rock their boat and take away their toys, no matter how good at my job I may be.

So I try not to rock their boat (too much) and in turn, I get hired. Again. And again. And again. Until I have a seat at that table and can be in a position to make some change. To hire more women. To hire less assholes. To show everyone that it doesn't have to be a Boys Club and that it is, in fact, better when it's not. To one day, have it so that there's enough women around that we're believed when we say someone is harassing us. To not be thought of as promiscuous or "asking for it" just because we're having a conversation with a guy.

I would have loved for the Grip to be punished for his inappropriate behavior and not face consequences myself (because I did nothing wrong) but that's not the world I live in (yet). But I hope it's the world that will exist someday. But until then, I need to pick my battles. Calling out one guy isn't the hill I want to go out on. I'm fighting a mountain here.

* It could've been any department.

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