* You may not know who Amy Taeuber is. If so, please read this before you read my letter below.
I want to say this up front: I think you are smart and brave and filled with an extremely healthy dose of self-respect.
We haven’t met before, yet I feel like I know you. Dare I say it, I think we’re super alike. Well, sort of.
I used to be a journalist too. And after a stint in commercial radio, before I’d even finished my journalism degree, I landed at job at the same TV station as you. Some of the people I worked with all those years ago still work there now.
I loved my job there. It was so much fun! The cammos were great, I enjoyed seeing a lot of life in our state and meeting all sorts of interesting people, as well as being able to spend lots of time out of the office.
Flying in the helicopter was always a treat (except for the times I felt like I was going to vomit. That was when we called the little helicopter the “egg beater”, and it was flown by a pilot who we all agreed was a maverick. He killed himself when he was crop dusting and his chopper hit power lines. It was bound to happen).
Sometimes we flew in a small, private fixed wing plane, with a pilot who was funny and charming and we all adored. I’ll never forget the porno magazines in the seat pockets. Forget those safety cards you get on commercial flights, we had Playboy for our reading pleasure!
I was 23 when I started working in TV. I’d like to think I was smart and brave – like you – back then, but there was one ingredient missing: the self-respect part.
My sense of self came well and truly from outside myself. I measured it mostly by how men responded to me. I thought if I looked hot and received feedback that reinforced that, I was not only doing a-ok, I was worthwhile.
There was a special section in the newsroom where a group of blokes used to sit. When I walked past, I held my shoulders back as far as they’d go, and stuck out my breasts as far as they’d go. Those guys would make all sorts of sexual comments, and I admit, I liked it.
What never occurred to me then was that that wasn’t acceptable. It was more 20 years ago, and the media was well-known for being a boys club. From what I hear from people who are still playing the game, not a lot has changed – in truth – but on the surface, it looks everyone’s cleaned up their act.
It’s too long ago for me to think of specific comments that were made about me. Extra marital affairs were the norm amongst those blokes who sat in that special section, as was drinking too much at work parties, and the shenanigans that went on afterwards. I admit, I played the game too once or twice. I was far too easy then. They didn’t deserve me. But it’s easy for me to say that now.
When I read your story in the Guardian, about you being sacked and your sister not being offered any more shifts, I said out loud, Go Girl!
Now, Amy, I want to say ‘thank you’.
Whether you realise or not, you are speaking for so many women who’ve gone before you and didn’t. Women like me who somehow thought the behaviour was ok (which of course doesn’t mean it was), and women who knew it wasn’t right but didn’t have the courage to speak up, for fear or losing their jobs by rocking the boat, and not wanting to be seen as not nice or not good. When you grow up to believe your value is based on being nice and good and a pleaser, it’s a tough call to take a stand.
Amy, thank you for speaking your truth. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for respecting yourself. Thank you for not giving up or in. Thank you for not signing a confidentiality agreement that would see you silenced.
Thank you for your strength in taking on a media renowned for putting ratings and egos before people and truth.
Thank you for standing up for what’s right.
I know it’s not an easy thing to do. You’ve no doubt already dealt with your fair share of criticism and nastiness. You’ve probably been labelled all sorts of things that aren’t true. People and industries can be like that when their arse is on the chopping block.
I do my best to speak my truth myself these days, but it never feels entirely comfortable, and sometimes, the consequences aren’t nice. Good things don’t always happen, but I have to trust that right things will.
I’m learning that my integrity, to my own truth, is what matters most.
I stand with you, Amy. Please know that so many other women who’ve worked in the media do too, as no doubt do women from all sorts of other industries too.
You give us hope.
Amy, you rock.