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Forum, Sept. 30: The Letter She Finally Sent to Him


Saturday, September 29, 2018
The Letter She Finally Sent to Him

In the mid-1980s, I landed a job at a brokerage firm. Below is a version of the letter I recently summoned the courage to send. I had been composing it in my mind for years.

Why didn’t I write it before the #MeToo movement began? I didn’t have the guts. And if I’m completely honest, I felt some shame. Even now, part of me wants to remain anonymous because I’m embarrassed. Was I flirtatious? Why me? Everyone in the office acted as though the sexually inappropriate language was funny — boys being boys. So I was complicit. Want to know why I didn’t report? I would have, at the very least, been ostracized, and likely would have lost my job. I was young. I couldn’t afford that. No woman can.

Here’s the letter I sent. Some of the identifying details have been changed. P.S.: I never received a reply.

Hello J---,

Remember me? You were my boss once. I can’t help but think of you given all the recent news regarding inappropriate sexual provocations, harassment and assault in the workplace. When you asked me in our initial interview if I had a boyfriend, it didn’t occur to me that maybe that was inappropriate or (now) illegal. Remember when you used to ask me to get under your desk? Or when you touched me inappropriately and told me it looked like I had gained a few pounds? I did nothing. In fact, I thought maybe I should go on a diet. And when your assistant manager asked me in front of everyone during a sales meeting if I would need to take my shoes off when we were having sex standing up, I felt disgust and pain. And I still did nothing. Anyway, that is all in the past now. But I am glad that today, vulnerable women are finding their voice. They are speaking out and taking action. Now do you remember me? I remember you. It appears as though you have continued to have success in your career. I wish you well.

Pam Skillman

Grantham

Hoping They’ll Do What’s Right

Jennifer Freyd, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, described the classic tactic that sexual abusers use when facing accountability: It’s called DARVO, for Deny the behavior; Attack the individual doing the confronting; and Reverse roles of Victim and Offender.

Brett Kavanaugh was silent when asked directly if he would support an FBI investigation, knowing that his comment, “I’ll do anything the committee wants” was a dodge. If he were truly innocent, I’d think he’d want to clear his name officially, rather than shouting down his opponents. His partisan outburst alone would disqualify him as an independent, nonpartisan judge.

May the line “boys will be boys” never be used again as an excuse for bullying and humiliating girls or forcing themselves on women. My only hope is that Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Jeff Flake, and other Republican senators, carry our nation’s conscience and do what’s right.

Let’s go to the second name on that list of qualified candidates.

Anne Peyton

South Strafford

A Bad Case of Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance can cause people to believe what makes the world seem consistent, whether or not evidence supports their belief. It’s fine to be skeptical of global warming, but are you telling me you don’t believe that air pollution exists?

Political convictions should not require people to change their views on sexual assault. It is possible to vote for someone and still be willing to think of him or her as a sexual offender. Some of us voted for Bill Clinton (and for Hillary, who tried to discredit Bill’s accusers). Some of us voted for Donald Trump. It’s fine to be skeptical of the motives of one woman who comes forward to derail your candidate, but it should not require you now to be convinced that all women are liars, or that anyone who is assaulted and doesn’t immediately report deserves what happened to her.

You can be sure that the numbers of assault survivors is huge, and you definitely know and love some. They are not going to be talking to you about it if you are currently blasting all women who delay reporting. You are why they delay reporting.

Susan K. Johnson

Lebanon

A Victim Rarely Forgets

Even the next day, it’s common for someone who was in a drunken stupor to not remember his behavior. A victim rarely forgets her abuser, no matter how much time has passed.

Claire Gardner

Newport

I Plan to Honor Our Veterans on Nov. 11

I am writing in response to Patricia Greene’s Forum letter (“Give Peace a Chance in Hartford on Nov. 11,” Sept. 26).

On Nov. 11, 1919, Woodrow Wilson wrote a letter to the American people explaining what he felt the originally named Armistice Day was for: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service. ...” Part of the meaning was also to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.

In 1926, Congress adopted a resolution making Nov. 11 a legal holiday, calling for the observance with appropriate ceremonies. In 1954, Congress amended the bill and changed the name to Veterans Day to reflect recognition of veterans of all conflicts, not just World War I.

So despite the letter writer’s assertion that Veterans Day is a day to “celebrate” war, that is simply not true, and saying so does a disservice to every veteran who ever fought for our country.

Veterans Day is for honoring every veteran who signed up to serve in our nation’s military. There is not a veteran I know who celebrates war. Every veteran I know would like nothing more than for our country and the world to find peace. So I think that holding a “Give Peace a Chance” demonstration on Veterans Day is very disrespectful to every veteran in our community.

On Nov. 11, 2018, as the proud spouse of a Desert Storm veteran, I plan to honor every veteran I know, including my husband, other family members, our current town manager and all members of our community who have served our country, both in times of war and peace.

Mary Kay Brown

Hartford