Sexual harassment is on the tip of everyone’s tongue nowadays, as Hollywood seems to be going through a whirlwind of allegations and charges against prominent figures in the industry. While actresses, singers, and models come forward and speak up about situations, occurrences and moments where they have felt harassed, assaulted and uncomfortable – there are everyday women who are going through the same exact struggle. However, like these very well-known women in the spotlight, they don’t know the right way to approach the situation and struggle to find the words to speak out against their attackers and harassers. Like, this one teenage girl who worked at a Chili’s restaurant in Whitehall, Pennsylvania.
When Emily Houser began working at Chili’s, she was only 16-years-old. She claims that her manager at the time took “special interest” in her and began showering her with “unwanted gifts” and also showed up at her private home – and even at her school. If any woman has ever worked in the restaurant industry, it’s a common narrative where men take particular interest in young waitresses and bartenders – it’s a narrative that many women have brushed passed for some time. I have been a personal victim of sexual harassment in the industry – and, so has every other female I know who has ever worked in it.
Houser apparently rejected her manager, Josh Davidson, on several occasions over a long period of time. Eventually, he moved onto another waitress and began to harass her instead. At that point, Houser claims she thought she “had to speak up” and reported Davidson to Chili’s headquarters – who transferred the manager to another location. Houser decided to quit her job working at Chili’s. Of course, this seems like the appropriate action to take in such circumstances, but, Houser’s co-workers didn’t feel that way.
According to Houser, before Davidson left, they threw a party called the “F*ck Emily Houser” party and posted an ice cream cake, labeled as such, on Instagram.
Houser told ATTN that the photos posted online caused her to “break into a complete panic attack.” She also was so humiliated that she contemplated self-harm and suicide, as people were making a joke out of something that was traumatic for her. Apparently, Davidson has since been fired from Chili’s altogether after headquarters got reports of said party.
Regardless of the situation, the place, the media spotlight on it – there is absolutely no reason for women to be humiliated for having the strength and bravery to speak up against those who harass them. Situations like this make it almost impossible for other women to find the courage to speak out and speak up. When women are pigeon-holed and humiliated – called a “hoe” for reporting the truth – it makes us feel as though there is no point in speaking out. What will change when the majority of society will label us as the ones who are wrong? Telling us we were asking for it? Telling us to dress differently, to act different, to carry ourselves differently?
We need to change the conversation around sexual harassment. And, we need to do it now.