Posted 20 hours ago

Not Safe For Work: Author of the viral essay 'My boyfriend, a writer, broke up with me because I am a writer'

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behind the glitter and the justice, everyone is tarnished and compromised - including even our narrator. I ran open-armed into a burning building hoping if I moved quickly enough, I’d be spared the flames. I thought the project had a lot of promise and wanted to see if there was anything I could do to push it forward. I get the impression it was supposed to be more hard hitting than it was, and it didn’t really say more than we already know. I felt personally that I’m just a little bit out of the age range for this as some of the situations in the book were fairly obviously on the way and she just didn’t seem to pick up on the cues.

But certain gendered instincts – people pleasing, playing peacemaker, considering another person’s comfort a precondition for my own – served me well.Only after the fact did it occur to me to wonder why a male executive would ever think it appropriate to give a female employee a goodbye kiss at the end of the work day, regardless of where on the face his lips landed.

Not Safe for Work explores how women are victimised, judged and silenced and forever having to balance not speaking up when, for example, they’re abused or harassed, if the person who did it to them is more powerful. Here, the former Hollywood assistant and current director of book-to-film development at a literary agency reflects on the horrifying behaviour she witnessed as a twentysomething – and how little has actually changed in the five years since the Harvey Weinstein scandal. So when you land a job in television, you're ready for anything: pulling all-nighters, leaning on your powerful mother's contacts, keeping your boss happy whatever - and whoever - the cost. I’m not sure if asking them out loud is useful, but it’s a start, and it feels more productive than silence. I thought it was important that even characters that were very in touch what what was acceptable or not fell into that trap.We also need to stop blindly applauding powerful women in Hollywood as if their success is inherently “good for women” or an illustration of the system working in a more egalitarian way. How can I separate my desire to raise awareness and increase discussion about complicity in Hollywood from my desire to be one of the voices in the conversation? I don’t know how the daughter (I keep saying daughter as she was unnamed in the book) kept her patience and was mostly able to stay polite and courteous as I think I would have cut ties very early on. So visceral is the narrator's voice that every time I opened the book it felt like sliding into uncomfortable heels.

If I thank him for his congratulations and leave it at that, am I demonstrating complicity, failing to practice what I preach? I heard sexist and racist comments and fumed silently, exchanging outraged instant messages with other assistants.Throwing items in the office, and particularly in the direction of your employees, is now off limits. She was needy, unreasonable and insistent on maintaining a strong dependency between herself and her daughter.

A novel which makes us examine our own complicity, while also weaving in threads of tenderness, drive and office-based humour which at times feels delightfully absurd . It’s a high-wire balancing act of mixed messaging – no easy feat, but I have so many years of practice. A book that leaves you pondering and gives great social commentary on the glass ceiling that very much still exists between women and equality in both the workplace and life, is always an excellent read.While I don’t want to talk too much about the detailed plot, I do want to describe the overall feel of the book. Otherwise, too many people will remain silent because they will decide it’s not worth the discomfort and emotional fallout of making a fuss about a minor comment. I told myself that someday, when I had enough power that people cared what I had to say, I would make a stand for what was right.

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