YOU WORK FOR ME SO I CAN TOUCH YOU WHEN AND WHERE I WANT.
During the early seventies, there weren’t many newly- divorced women with children—like me—who needed a job. Those were the days when jobs for women were scarce and paid much-less than jobs for men.
I lasted five years at AETN--Arkansas Educational Television Network. In the beginning, my starting salary was nine thousand dollars a year and five years later-- when AETN and I parted company--my yearly salary was ten thousand, five hundred.
My boss, a former state senator, was the first Executive Director of Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN). The formerly Secretary of the Arkansas Senate, was appointed Director, a high-ranking position, by Democratic Governor and longtime political buddy, Orval Faubus. The Director actually bragged about knowing nothing about television....except how to turn his TV set-- on and off.
Middle-aged, balding, and carrying an abundance of loose, flabby fat, Lee Reeves, the politician-turned-director was the typical looking and acting—Good-Old-Boy-Democrat.
When Reeves smiled… his squinty eyes squeezed closed and he resembled a slimy night-crawler from the swamp. He was one of those men you never wanted to be with—alone, especially if you were a woman.
I endured the Station’s Director because I needed a paycheck. For five years, AETN’s repulsive bastard-boss called me to his office on an average of twice a week and—when the door closed—he'd start groping me… while grunting like a pig. He forced his hand up my skirt at the same time he was trying to kiss me with his sticky wet, slobbery lips; his snake-like tongue would thrust itself in and out of my face, demanding to get through my clenched teeth. Each wrestling session lasted only as long as it took me to unpin myself from his heavy-weighty body, grab the doorknob, and break-free. Each time I left his office, I vowed it wouldn’t happen again.
Gradually Reeves, the ultimate Bully-Boss, put more and more pressure on me to come to his office, sometimes being so brazen as to come to the studio and interrupt my taping sessions with important guests. Eventually I got wise to his seriously-sick game. I watched young secretaries go to his office and come out with messed-up hair, their sweaters half-open or unbuttoned, and with frightened looks on their faces.
One afternoon, walking down the hall to the bathroom, I saw the art teacher, Miss Polly, run from his office, lipstick smeared over her face; her artist smock turned backwards! One by one, I visited with these women; I begged them to join me in a formal complaint against the Director’s sexual harassment. Victim after female victim said “no”. The women were desperate to keep their jobs; they couldn’t speak-out for fear of being fired. They warned me not to include their names in any complaint, saying they would be forced to deny, deny, deny.
The day came when the Director walked in the TV studio where I was meeting with a group of volunteers discussing an upcoming pledge drive. Smacking those slimy lips together as he often did when up to no-good—the Director said he needed to talk with me in his office. I tried to stall, saying everyone was on a tight schedule but, using his most authoritative voice, he demanded I come with him immediately. I had no choice but follow him to his office.
As soon as his hands began grabbing my breasts and I heard: “You’re so cute and sexy, I just have to kiss you and touch you all over.”....I screamed. I slapped his fat, saggy jowls and pushed his nasty-spongy body away from me with such force—the bastard lost his balance, fell backwards across his desk, and--I kept screaming. I ran out of his office--screaming-- and found everyone in the building standing in the hall, staring at the Director’s door, wondering why some woman was screaming. The Director’s door opened behind me and everyone heard the Director yell: “You’re fired, you ungrateful bitch; you’ll never work in television again!”
Five minutes later, leaving the building with my belongings, I heard the Station Director limping and grunting behind me, trying to catch up. “If you leave right now, I’ll call the Board and tell them you quit!” I turned, looked him straight in the eye, and spoke my heart: “Every person in this building heard you fire me and they are my witnesses. Don’t worry about reporting ME to the Board. I’m going to the governor’s office right now to report YOU and YOUR SEXUAL ABUSE of every female in this building!!!”
Yes, it was the seventies. AETN was my first introduction—to Working--as a Woman--in a Man’s World.