Oct. 23, 2021

WHY WOMEN ENDURE SEXUAL ABUSE FROM THEIR BOSSES.

 From my book: THE BEAUTY QUEEN, "Let No Deed Go Unpublished."

"After my divorce, my first job was with Arkansas Educational Television. I commuted from Little Rock to Conway--fifty miles-roundtrip--five days a week.  It’s amazing what a single mother will endure to support her-self and two daughters.

 Most Women who had no choice but work, grabbed anything they could find and--- held on tight.  Remember, this was Arkansas in the early seventies. Jobs for women paid very little and offered few-- if any---benefits. I endured Director Lee Reaves, my boss, for almost five years because I was one of those women who had to work. 

 I endured a nasty, repulsive, bastard-boss who called me to his office at least twice a week. The minute the door closed, my boss would begin groping me as he grunted like a pig.   He forced his hand up my skirt while he tried to kiss me with his sticky wet, slobbery lips.  His snake-like tongue jutted in and out of my face, trying to force its way through my clenched teeth.  Each wrestling session lasted only as long as it took me to un-pin myself from his heavy-weighty body, grab the doorknob, and run.  Each time, I vowed it would not happen-- again.

 Over time, he put more and more pressure on me to come to his office, being so brazen as to, sometimes, come to the studio and interrupt my taping sessions with important guests.  Gradually, I got wise to his nasty game.   I watched young secretaries go to his office and come out with their hair messy, their sweaters half-open or unbuttoned. 

One afternoon, walking down the hall to the bathroom, I saw the art teacher—Ms. Polly-- run from his office, her lipstick smeared over her face and her artist smock turned backwards!  One by one, I visited with these women and begged them to join me in a legal complaint against the Director’s sexual harassment.  Every woman said no.  They were desperate to keep their jobs; they couldn’t speak-out because they were afraid 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 Director Reaves walked in the TV studio where a group of volunteers and I were discussing an upcoming pledge drive. Smacking those slimy lips together as he often did when he was up to no-good-- the Director From Hell 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 that very-minute.   

As soon as his hands started grabbing my breasts and I heard his same-old disgusting words:  “You’re so cute and sexy, I just have to kiss you and touch you all over”-- I began screaming.  I slapped his fat, saggy jowls and pushed his nasty-spongy body away from me with such force--- the bastard lost his balance and 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 closed door, wondering why some woman was-- screaming.

 I heard the Director’s door open behind me--and heard him yell: “You’re fired, you ungrateful bitch; you’ll never work in television again!”Five minutes later, as I was leaving the building with my belongings, I could hear Lee Reaves making his usual snorting and grunting sounds as he limped along behind me. “If you leave right now, I’ll call the Board and tell them you quit!”

 I turned and looked the pathetic excuse for a human--straight in the eye--and shouted: “Everyone in the building heard you fire me and they are my witnesses.  Don’t worry about reporting ME to the Board, you sex-crazed pervert.  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 and the Lee Reaves experience was my introduction to the not-so-pleasant-working world of single mothers. 

Sally Miller