I truly enjoyed being pregnant, and I know not all women do. There was something so freeing about taking up more space in the world that I loved. I felt powerful, feminine, and special—as if the world takes care of you for the 9-month period that you are growing this child inside of you. I felt way less concerned with how I looked at every moment, and perhaps for the first time in my life, truly felt beautiful and proud to be a woman.
I’m not one of those women who has wanted to be a mother her whole life. Not even close. I have always been incredibly career-focused and determined to be a filmmaker, which is what I’ve always dreamed of being. But by the time I turned 30 I felt like I had accomplished some things I was proud of, saved up a little bit of money, and could feel my husband inching more towards fatherhood. I looked at him and knew if nothing else, I had to see him become a Dad and I felt in my gut he would always be there for me, for us.
We were in our blissful bubble of early pregnancy when we had an interaction with our neighbor that I’ll never forget. We were days away from finding out the gender of our impending child and we loved talking about what to name him or her, and what he or she would be like. We were secretly hoping for a girl.
Our neighbor approached us in front of our building one sunny afternoon and asked, “So do you know if it’s a boy or girl yet?” to which we politely replied, “Not yet.” Without skipping a beat, he piped up to say: “You know what? It’s fine. If you have a girl, you just have to accept that someday, someone’s going to fuck your daughter.”
I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. My husband, equally shocked as I was, said something about how we would show her “Wonder Woman” and we scurried away to process what had just happened. I think what bothered me the most about his sentence was the idea that this is something that would happen to her, she wouldn’t have any choice in the matter.
It wasn’t that “Your daughter is going to have sex someday,” which as a parent is a lot to swallow, anyway. It was that someone was going to do this to her and she has no agency in this scenario. It was such a short sentence, and yet said so much about gender roles and the way we view our girls.
I was frustrated with myself that I didn’t speak up in the moment with some intelligent and well-researched facts and statistics. I pondered what could possibly be the male equivalent to this sentiment. Would it be: “Well if it’s a boy, let’s just hope he’s not a murderer!”
Shortly after that encounter, we found out we were, in fact, having a girl. I cried, and my husband cried harder. We were thrilled. I have dedicated my career to making films that empower women and girls (“The Empowerment Project” & “Losing Sight of Shore”), so this made so much sense to me for my life’s path. It was time for the ultimate empowerment—raising a daughter.
But something interesting happened when we found this out. For me, a lot of my inner demons started to bubble up to the surface. Moments I hadn’t stood up for myself, moments I felt less than or insignificant, and I wondered if I had the strength to bring a girl into this world and show her the way.
Right around this time is when several stories of sexual harassment started to circulate. As #MeToo dominated our news feeds I was forced to drum up experiences I had had working in the television industry where I had certainly been sexually harassed. Why didn’t I speak up? Why was this the price I had to pay to be a woman in the workplace? Did other women feel the same way I did? And finally, can I do something about this before my daughter ever has to face this?
With this tiny being growing inside of me and getting bigger by the day, I decided it was time to take action. I did research, I rented equipment, and I started filming a documentary about the sexual harassment crisis in our workplaces entitled “NEVERTHELESS”. I was eight months pregnant, conducting interviews, filming at marches, and asking the questions I felt I needed to ask before she arrived. If you can believe it, I started filming on October 4th, 2017, and the Weinstein story broke on October 5th.
I always had a passion for shining a light on stories that make the world a better and more equal place for women, but knowing I am responsible for a daughter now (she’s almost four months old), I have never been more determined. We all have the power to make the workplace more equal and comfortable for everyone to exist in.
I’m using my talents the best way I know how, which is to make a film that examines the issue from all different sides and come away with actionable tools to move forward with. I want to spark dialogues all over the world about harassment, power, and equality. I’ll always be grateful to my daughter for the push I didn’t know I needed.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
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