#UsToo: The silent story of women in the workplace


Woman holding #Metoo sign.
Photo credit: Mihai Surdu

The hashtag #MeToo on social media showcased sexual assault and harassment faced by women all over the world. Several of these incidents occurred in the workplace.

#MeToo has gone viral on Twitter with tweets by women from different walks of life coming out to bring awareness to the problems they encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Recently, Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexually harassing Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita Nyong’o, and over 50 other women.

Other figures with current sexual harassment allegations made against them by colleagues or employees include actor Kevin Spacey, former President George Bush Sr., and journalist Mark Halperin.

In an interview, Weinstein stated, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it…though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”

The occurrences have sparked a conversation and encouraged other women who have been through similar situations to open up and tell their side of the story.

Not only is this happening in the entertainment industry, but it’s also happening in everyday white collar jobs.

Even in France there have recently been protests in 11 different cities as a part of the #MeToo campaign, according to ABC News.

According to Cosmopolitan.com, out of 2,235 women polled, one in three women between the ages of 18-34 have been sexually harassed at work.

75 percent of these women claim they were harassed by male coworkers, and 38 percent were harassed by their male managers. 71 percent of the women did not report the harassment.

First-year preschool education student at Florida A&M University (FAMU), Nia Spaulding, experienced sexual harassment at her first job during her junior year of high school.

Black woman protesting sexual harrassment and assault.
Photo credit: jaminjan via Flickr

Spaulding said that she worked at a fifties-themed diner and some of the male coworkers would make sexual comments about her body.

“Once, the balloon guy was walking behind me and he had touched my butt as he was passing. He tried to make it a joke to try to make it seem like it was okay, but it wasn’t,” said Spaulding.

She also said that boys have touched or grabbed her breasts without permission. Incidents such as this one made her feel self-conscious about her body.

“Throughout high school, I never liked to wear clothes that showed any cleavage because I know how teenage boys are, and I didn’t want them to think of me a certain way.”

Lauren Thomas, a first-year pre-law student at FAMU, is also one of many women who have suffered through sexual harassment in the workplace.

“The situation started when I was 16 at my first job. There was an older guy — he was attractive, so at first the attention really didn’t bother me, until he started to grab me and pull me places when no one was looking,” Thomas said.

Thomas said that the male would clasp onto her arm aggressively, leaving bruises.

She also added that her abuser would flirt with her often and make comments about her body size. He would tell her that she should stop eating so she could slim down.

“It was always something about my body with him, it used to make me feel awful. I would tuck in my shirt, suck in my stomach and tighten my belt when he was around. I even stopped eating when I worked with him on the schedule at one point,” Thomas said.

When asked if she reported his abusive behavior, she said no.

Thomas said that she felt as if she was making too much of the situation, and when they stopped seeing each other as much she figured, “that was that.”

She also mentioned that everyone who worked with her was very close with her abuser, so she didn’t know how they would react to the situation.

Looking back on it, Thomas wishes she would have spoke up and told someone.

“The situation did kind of change me, it just opened my eyes sort of. It made me realize that everyone wasn’t to be trusted and everything isn’t a joke,” Thomas said. 

Thomas’ advice to anyone going through something similar is to, “definitely speak up. Tell someone, anyone about what’s happening. Because even if you’re fine hiding it, the next girl may not be. Every wrong action deserves a consequence.”

For anyone suffering from any kind of sexual harassment or assault, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673.