FitzGibbon Media, a major public relations firm in Washington, D.C., that worked with a host of progressive personalities and organizations including Wikipedia, Julian Assange, the ACLU and Chelsea Manning, closed abruptly on Thursday. Several staff members alleged that Trevor FitzGibbon, the firm’s president, had committed sexual harassment and sexual assault against female staff.
When I wrote Prince Charming Wears Garters, I did so with the mental visual of Don Draper in garters, but not really with the Mad Men time frame in mind. Back in the day, I worked in several advertising agencies in Texas and pulled from my experience there, but also rumor more than truth that I was presented with.
While working in advertising, I didn’t feel personally subject to any unwanted harassment, but I would say that frequently flirting toed the line and wasn’t entirely professional. One of the agencies I worked for I ran a night shift for production and there were more than a few times while wandering the darkened halls taking a quick mental break that behind closed doors I heard moans.
Before making a move to IT, I worked in marketing for start ups and Fortune 500 companies. One interview I went on, I was “treated” to a ride in a CEO’s Porsche. At the Fortune 500 company, which I was working at around the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, I was compared to her in a lascivious way. Now, I made him regret that very sharply and at the time that turned him into the joke, but the point is, while 98% of my personal experience in the professional world has not been as an object of harassment, even when it’s not me, I see it going on.
Most of the sexism that I experience doesn’t have to do with desire, but domination. I’d argue that when it comes to sexual violence and harassment, that is also about domination. Certainly the Lewinsky comment hadn’t been meant to compliment or uplift me. So when I highlighted (granted, with extra drama) the issue in Prince Charming Wears Garters, I didn’t really expect much push back on that topic. But it did make me wonder if I was simply too far removed from the advertising/pr game to comment.
It would seem that is not so. Sadly.