Sunday, 17 January 2016

Rosie Tits





Today I learned that I will finally have breast reduction surgery. I am both terrified and elated. No more blisters from the underwire. No more side boob sticking out as I try in vain to stuff my size 44H boobs into a 42DDD. No more shopping at Ottawa Tent and Awning for a bra that costs more than a bottle of George Clooney tequila.

Today, I start an occasional series on my journey through my surgery, and the reasons why. I want people to know that breast reduction surgery is not just cosmetic surgery. It is life and soul saving surgery that no woman to my knowledge has ever regretted -- except Kanye West's mom, but she shouldn't have also booked three other procedures to save time.

This is serious business, four hours on the operating table; it's not for narcissists and it's not for sissies.

Here is the first post I ever wrote, back in 2014, around the time of the Jian Ghomeshi sexual harassment debacle at CBC It's about how my big boobs played a huge part in ruining my career.



Rosie Tits.
That was my nickname at my first job as a reporter.
One of the photographers gave me that nickname nearly 40 years ago, about a month after I started writing for my hometown paper.
I was 19 years old. 
When he called me that, he did so in front of the newsroom. Everybody had a good chuckle over that one. He also gave my colleague a nickname. He called her Darlene Happy Crack.
I didn't know what to do. I couldn't go to the principal's office, or go up to a teacher.
There were other women in the newsroom, but I didn't know them, and I didn't feel comfortable discussing the dilemma with the managing editor who was an old man.
So I did what all good girls do: I smiled and laughed along with the boys.
I did a lot of laughing over the next few years.
I was very naïve back then and didn't know how to handle this kind of degradation. I'm sure my face was red, I can't remember.
Rosie Tits, just kept echoing in my ears.

It was the first time, but certainly not the last time. I was subjected to verbal abuse as a Carleton journalism student by my radio professor who had a reputation for being a total asshole, a prick of the first order.
He'd been to the show, to CBC radio and television.
He was grooming us for the real world.
So it's not like we weren't warned.
We were taught journalism ethics and the law, but those lectures didn't include the ethical treatment of women in the newsroom. I had to read Norah Ephron and Ms. magazine if I wanted to learn that.
Our journalism profs didn't offer us any strategies to deal with the misogyny that was ripe in the cesspool we call Canadian journalism. Over the years, you sort of had to figure out how to roll with it, join in the joke long enough to make the assholes go away.
Don't get me wrong. I certainly wasn't physically abused by the bosses.
I'd know how to deal with that. I had a pretty good left hook.
But the psychological scars, they last forever. They can creep up on you, know.
Triggers, they're called.
They're happening to a lot of women these days, thanks to you know who.
Degradation, exploitation, call it what you want.
It just makes a person feel worthless, like a loser.
I had always hoped that women my daughter's age could be spared this kind of ugliness, 40 years later. Apparently, creeps are still allowed to slither around, and suffer no consequences.
And that is so disappointing.

But you know what hurts the worst?
When women do it.
During my first year working for an Ottawa paper, a female editorial assistant with whom I'd reluctantly agreed to room, used to come into the paper and regale the guys with tales of my sexual exploits. She would lean in and tell the bored deskers in detail how I looked while in the shower even though I'd never allowed her in the bathroom.
According to this women, whom I regarded as a friend, I was a tart of the first order.
So much for my professional reputation. I was finished professionally, at least in my own mind.

I was never raped but I was certainly sexually assaulted more than once.
That was a given. A fondle here, a tweak there, especially after a few drinks.
But you don't stay in the news business very long if you can't deal with pervos.
You learn quickly, as a young ambitious woman, that you are little more than fresh meat.
If you're smart, you develop your own coping mechanisms.
Here are a few I learned.
Always have an exit strategy.
Never believe anything they say especially when trading favors over job prospects.
And never, ever, let them take you to a second location.
Like a hotel room. Or a place in the deep recesses of the news factory.
Regardless.
Bruises heal.
But for me, the personal insults, the degradation of me as a human being, the discounting of my talents because of the overly soft bedframe God gave me, well those things hurt the most.

Why didn't I report the fondlers?
Maybe because, for the most part, those guys actually ran the newsroom. The other guys, well, they were complicit, sniggering, passing rumors on the computer system's Rumor Mill.
Talking is a career ender.
There weren't any HR people to talk to.
Nobody would have supported me, this I know.
Thanks to my little friend, I am certain that the higher ups would have told me I deserved it.
It was just better to smile, turn tail and get on with the job.

It didn't take long before I left journalism, at the tender age of 25.
I was getting passed over for promotions. I was put back on nights when I objected.
So I did what lots of the ladies did back then; I decided to get married and have babies, believe it or not.
I wasn't made for the cut and thrust of the news business.
At least if you're a freelancer, you get paid based on what you do, not what you look like.
And the good news is, since leaving journalism, I've only worked for women.
Never had another problem with harassment.
Some of them have had ugly personalities and have been strident.
But at least nobody has ever called me Rosie Tits again.



2 comments:

  1. Long time reader here, congrats, I had one 6 years ago and have never felt better. Hope you have a better doctor than I had though (I'm also in Ottawa): if you have Rockwell, contact me for details....

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  2. That's a wonderful bit of reflection. Makes me sad. As you know, I was part of "the life" for a long time, and I did witness men being disrespectful assholes to women. While I honestly feel I did not participate in this, I nonetheless did not do much if anything to stop them. I feel very sorry, shamed even, about that now. So, good luck with your operation, I hope it goes as easy as possible for you, and brings all the benefits for which you hope. - P

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