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Houston Breakthrough 1977-02
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Houston Breakthrough 1977-02 - Page 2. February 1977. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 1, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4451/show/4431.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1977). Houston Breakthrough 1977-02 - Page 2. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4451/show/4431

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1977-02 - Page 2, February 1977, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 1, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4451/show/4431.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1977-02
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1977
Description Vol. 2 No. 2
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 21 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 2
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_525b.jpg
Transcript Women charge sexual abuse City reprimands supervisor By Karen Barrett Women victimized by sexual harassment in employment, like wives battered in their homes, have only recently begun to speak out and to seek help. They suffer abuses ranging all the way from offensive sexual remarks to actual physical assault. The perpetrators are men, usually men in management positions. Women who encounter this harassment are often embarrassed, afraid to resist and reluctant to report the situation for fear of losing their jobs or of not being believed. They may blame themselves or fear that others will blame them for somehow provoking or inviting sexual advances. A woman may come to feel helpless, damned if she does and damned if she doesn't. Refusing a boss's sexual advances, or lodging complains about them, may cause him to fire her, to write a negative evaluation for her personnel record or to pass her up for promotion (perhaps in favor of a more cooperative co-worker). He may resort to minor irritations — he can exercise his prerogative to assign her extra chores, limit her vacations or treat her discourteously. She can look for another job. But that is not always easy to find and, to a prospective employer, a record of frequent job changes could suggest instability About a month later, in mid- September, a new temporary typist (whom I shall call Jeanette Hawthorne, as she does not want her real name used in this story) complained that "the boss had started talking fresh to her." She said that she came to work at 8:45 in the mornings, earlier than anyone else, and that Tom Neely had started coming in early too and was usually sitting at her desk when she walked in. She old Kennerson that he made obscene suggestions and tried to irab her (by the arm). She said ^he was frightened of him and asked not to be left alone with him anymore. This time, Kennerson told the voman to start keeping a daily •>cord of these incidents so that hey'd stay fresh in her mind if 'hey needed to be reported at some later date. She promised to iry and prevent Hawthorne having to be alone with him. Kennerson herself had not >een molested; Neely had asked icr out once before she started working in his office and she had refused She theorized that he left her alone because she seemed less intimidated by him han the younger women did some of the temporary typists were still in their teens) and because he was intimidated by her fiance. She was well aware of his conversational habits, however: He would take a perfectly innocent conversation and suddenly say something terrible. Ldbook magazine recently pubhshed a «ues«,on,^>*,»U£ I RedbooK magaz.n* "«»"*■£™j"^ had experienced some 9,000 women responded. 88 /<> ot tnem nan e»i« form of sexual harassment on the job. Repr.nts of the "«"'* wh'ch summarizes their findings are available from: Wrt^S-IJJ. Redbook Magazine, 230 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10017 [send 35 cents in coin and a stamped, bus.ness-s.ze, self- I addressed envelope]. Many women resign themselves to such situations. But some are demanding an end to the oppression. A typical case occurred in the City of Houston Community Development Program last fall: Audrey Kennerson had been office manager for the program's Third Ward Neighborhood Service Center for only one week when a temporary clerical employee appealed to her for help. The young woman told her that Tom Neely, service coordinator and supervisor of employees at the center, had on several occasions called her into his office, as though to dictate a letter, and then asked her crudely intimate questions about her sex life with her husband. On one occasion, she asserted, he had come up behind her when she was working late alone in the office and tried to force himself upon her" and had called her "a damn cheap bitch" when she resisted and burst into tears. Looking back, Kennerson says: / just didn 't know what to tell her. I'd only been there a week; I wasn't positive whether to believe her. I was at a total loss how to advise her; then she quit a week later. Like one time we were talking about dieting — that was the only time anyone besides Tom talked about each other's anatomy — and / said something about vitamins, so he handed me this book on vitamins and then he said, 'Take this vitamin here. It's real good if your pussy itches." I tell you, my jaw dropped. Emily Preacher, a clerk typist who had been on two months' maternity leave, returned to the office on the 20th of September. She told Audrey Kennerson that Neely had been behaving in this abusive manner ever since she had started work there almost a year before. He was a friend of her husband's and had never made sexual advances to her, but he'd made vulgar remarks about her pregnancy and she had grown tired of hearing Neely constantly address and describe the women he worked with as "goddam bitches." Hawthorne's complaints multiplied. On several occasions, he had playfully grabbed her. She did not think it was funny, but was seriously frightened and requested a transfer. r^>. J In her diary, Hawthorne noted such remarks as Your titties are too small and You can't handle my dick because you're too young. Her account is one of direct verbal assaults rather than mere off-color jokes or impersonal discussions of sexual topics in her presence: One morning, Audrey had her radio on and he said, "That's good fucking music; just listen to that beat and bump." Then he started saying how a man could always screw another woman better than his wife and then he asks me, "Let's take a walk to one of those motels down Dowling Street." When he said that, I was shocked. I said, "What's the matter with you?" and got up and walked off. They interviewed everyone in the office, starting with Tom Neely. He denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. He admitted to participating in casual discussions of sex while in the office, but maintained that the women in the office joined in freely and frequently initiated such discussions. One woman, Jackie Petteway, an administrative aide at the Third Ward center, strongly defended Neely, testified to his character, denied witnessing sexual advances on his part to anyone and corroborated his story of frequent, amiable, sexually oriented conversations in the office. Another woman, Mary Wright, a housing counselor at the center, was reported by the ligation was that Tom Neely had on occasion conducted himself in other than a professional manner ...he is guilty of using vulgar language and engaging in improper conversations in an office setting. We found no provable: evidence of sexual misconduct: They recommended a formal reprimand, coupled with injunctions to refrain from using vulgar language or retaliating against those employees who had complained. Such a letter was sent to Neely and a copy was placed in his personal file at City Hall. Meanwhile, Kennerson had consulted the City Women's Advocate, Dr. Nikki Van Hightower, who conducted her own investigation. Van Hightower and Ramiro Romo, from Affirmative 'No one should have to work under these conditions just because we are women." On October 8, Kennerson addressed a written complaint to Ann Hill, the Affirmative Action Specialist for the Community Development Division. In it, she demanded no specific action, but referring to the situation which she had already discussed with Hill, she wrote: No one should have to work under these conditions just because we are women ...I feel that he should act like a supervisor and "respect" his staff. In return we will do the same for him. At Hill's request, she enclosed affidavits from Emily Preacher and Jeanette Hawthorne. An investigation ensued, conducted by Ann Hill, Bill Gutierrez, Hans Petersen, Robert Bec- nel and John Castillo, all officials in Community Development. investigators merely as having heard Neely participate in off- color conversations. The investigators threw out most of Hawthorne's testimony because most of the incidents she described, especially those involving physical molestation, had not been witnessed by anyone else. Those men, Becnel and Petersen, they acted like they thought I was lying, says Hawthorne, recalling her interrogation. They claimed in their report that the accusing women's allegations seemed to differ slightly on points of time and location, that Kennerson had not corroborated a grabbing incident which Hawthorne claimed Kennerson had witnessed. The official conclusion of the Community Development inves- Action, talked with all the women employed at the center at that time and to two others who no longer worked there (one of these was the temporary clerk who had complained to Kennerson in August. Romo interviewed Neely. The allegations and denials were substantially the same in this investigation, except that Van Hightower found more women to question. She noted that six out of seven women had cited some degree of sexual impropriety on Neely's part. Two of them (Hawthorne and the woman who had quit after only a week at the center) made written statements concerning physical sexual threats. continued on page 16 Houston Breakthrough • February 1977 • Page 1