To Margot Adler and the Staff of All Things Considered—
Your story, “For Maids in Manhattan, Unseemly Sights on the Job” has made my own work much more difficult. I work with sexually aggressive children in Chicago, Il. The apologist tone from Margot’s piece apologizes for attitudes and behaviors that allow sexual assault to continue.
There is no “confusion of boundaries” in the behaviors described by the housekeepers. These behaviors are clearly sexual harassment. What Vivian Vasconcellos, the caller from Bronxville, described was a toxic—if not dangerous—work environment created by a patron. Kathryn Carrington’s comments about unwanted sexual advances; men dropping towels and requesting a supervisor to accompany to complete her tasks are descriptions of sexual harassment.
Renata McCarthy says she only experienced “one serious sexual harassment experience during her years of work in hotels.” Any instance of sexual harassment is a serious instance. Why was this area of her experiences left unexplored?
Margot’s final, condescending comment, “So perhaps there is a little confusion about boundaries here” can explain why Renata stated she only had one serious instance of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not a symptom of poorly understood boundaries. Sexual harassment is a crime that stems from misogynistic attitudes. This condescension goes far beyond poor taste and into the realm of rape/sexual harassment apologism.
As a member of WBEZ, I hold NPR to a higher standard of journalism. I expect NPR to give a voice to women who do back breaking work for $20/hour. I expect NPR to confront and correct the attitudes that lead to sexual harassment. By leaving these attitudes unchallenged, you have apologized for them. If I wanted to listen to someone apologize for misogyny, I’d watch Fox News.