Barbara Burns, Coal Miner
Barbara Burns on becoming one of the first female coal miners and her courageous legal battle against sexual harassment.
Debra Messing on Harassment in Hollywood | 2017 MAKERS Conference
DOLORES HUERTA: I was 25 years old. We wanted to pass this bill that would give people who were legal immigrants of the country their old age pensions. These are people whose children had gone to war, and so I went to see the assemblyman, and after I explained to him the bill that I wanted him to vote for, he threw his hotel key across the desk and said, come and see me at my hotel tonight if you want my vote. So I just stood up and walked out. I didn't even honor that with a response. I just stood up and walked out the door.
The sexual harassment was something that was prevalent. You just expected it to happen. I remember working and having to run around the desk every night. How could I get out of here without the boss trying to make a pass at me? Every single day, having to scheme, how am I going to get out of this office? And I think for younger women today, at least, we know that still happens. But now, at least women have a recourse-- somewhere that they can go to take care of a situation like this.
- Being a woman, being in construction, you'll be in a small confined space, a lot of times, like a bathroom or somewhere, and the guys will come in on you while you're in there and ask you questions, inappropriate questions, like somebody wanting a pair of your panties. That's a question that somebody asked me, and that's very uncomfortable, and you don't know, like, am I going to get out of this situation? It's been life-threatening for some women. So, I tend to use humor to change situations. So, if a guy comes up to me and he says something inappropriate, like I said, "Really, did you just say that to me? Do you like your face, or do you want to have plastic surgery?" It has to be said, "You're an idiot." I will just say it, right? So, stuff like that, it tends to work. No longer are they in control. I just took it back.
Katrina Lake on Sexual Harassment in the VC Community
BRENDA BERKMAN: At one point in my career-- this was about 10 years into my career-- I was sexually assaulted by a fire department employee. And I couldn't get any-- the fire department to do anything about this. It was actually a very devastating incident in my career, where I got extremely depressed and I thought I was going to have to quit the fire service.
But the good thing that came out of it was that, at the same time that that was going on with me, Anita Hill conf-- the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings were going on. Anita Hill had spoke out about Clarence Thomas. And Paula Coughlin had complained in the Navy about the sexual assaults and harassment that went on at Tailhook. This big convention for Navy-- Navy aviators.
So, you know, it [SIGHS]-- it really does take a village. There-- this was not something that certainly I or any other person could have done on their own.