Last night I dreamt I was a salaried magazine columnist, and at the end of the dream I was laid off and given a lousy $5K severance package. As in real life, a horrible feeling descended — so horrible that I woke up. It reminded me, naturally, that life can be unfair and even brutal at times, and how organizations never say why you’re being let go. They just announce the bad news, Up in The Air-style, and ask you to collect your things and be out by the end of the day. All you can say to yourself is “why me? What brought this on?” As always, office politics and attitudes are often to blame.
I realized late this morning that my shitty-severance-package dream may have been inspired by a very gloomy Vanity Fair article I read yesterday — a piece called “‘You Will Lose Everything’: Inside The Media’s #MeToo Blacklist.”
Written by Diana Falzone, the piece basically reports that women who’ve filed sexual harassment lawsuits aren’t getting hired because they’ve been more or less blacklisted — branded as prickly and/or troublesome and too risky to bring aboard. The subhead reads, “Former television hosts and network personalities say they are persona non grata after settling high-profile lawsuits against serial sexual harassers. Is blacklisting the next legal battleground?”
This is really, really wrong. Women who were hassled or assaulted in a job environment obviously didn’t instigate the difficulty — they just wanted it to stop, and presumably sued to make a general point or get some justified payback or to possibly make things better for other sexual harassment victims. But now they’re being doubly victimized.
“There is no official blacklist,” Falzone writes. “And yet, multiple women, all of whom have settled high-profile lawsuits against serial sexual harassers, told me they struggled to continue their careers in media after defending themselves.”
A once-prominent TV personality, “now unable to secure a talent agent or an on-camera job”: “The very same people who publicly applaud you for speaking up about bad behavior will never hire you into their own organizations because you are forever pegged as a whistleblower and a troublemaker. On your deathbed, you will probably feel that you have done the moral thing by speaking up, but in the years you are alive, you are very cognizant of the toll your decision to come forward has taken on your life and your career path.”
Scott Pinsker, a branding and marketing expert: “It would be awful if one of the unintended consequences of the ‘Me Too’ movement is that employers are now so paranoid of being sued, they’re quietly blackballing the victims who had the strength and courage to stand up for themselves. I hope that’s not the case, but common sense says otherwise.”