Everything about Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy for the Democratic Presidential candidate makes me furious, but one minute throughout last night’s dispute, in particular, actually set me off. In action to Elizabeth Warren’s story of pregnancy discrimination, the former Brand-new York City mayor stated: “If she was a instructor in New York City she never would have had that issue. We treated our teachers the right way, and the unions will tell you precisely that.”
Actually, Michael Bloomberg, when I was a New York City instructor, you didn’t reward me “the right way.”
By now, #MyBloombergStory is notorious: Ten years ago, as New York City mayor, Bloomberg publicly called for my elimination from my job as a public school teacher after I’d been outed as a previous sex employee. Though I’d been explaining my personal journey in op-eds demanding that sex employees’ rights be acknowledged — like the one I’d released on the Huffington Post, “Thoughts From a Previous Craigslist Call Lady”— I wasn’t asking to be turned into tabloid fodder, nor was I in any way asking for the loss of my mentor profession.
And yet that’s precisely what occurred: A press reporter from the New York Post linked my byline to another story I’d published some months earlier, in which I disclosed my new occupation. In response to the Post‘s salacious cover story: “Bronx Instructor Confesses: I’m an Ex-Hooker,” Bloomberg tugged me from the class and called for the city to take legal action against me, as if my very presence was a crime.
While a good quantity of individuals were offended by the truth that a previous sex worker had actually become a “well-liked” elementary school instructor, others — consisting of Bloomberg, it seems — appeared equally angered by my choice to speak out. One New York Daily News heading, for example, read “Bronx art instructor Melissa Petro blabs about exploits as stripper, hooker at open-mic occasions.” The Post called me an “Idiot Prosti-Teacher” and captioned another photo, “Attention slut.” Independently, even buddies asked me what I was thinking.
Not only do some people not comprehend why a female would want to talk about something we ought to feel ashamed of, but it appears Michael Bloomberg doesn’t believe that people ought to have the right to. As a powerful billionaire, he put himself in the position of managing what his previous companies’ share by engaging them to sign nondisclosure arrangements, even as he admits making sexually suggestive remarks, saying, “that’s the method I grew up.” He feels entitled to have a past, to say sorry for decisions he’s made and relocation on, even to the greatest workplace in the country. Yet for others, he thinks their past ought to be something that not just haunts them, but avoids them from moving forward with their lives.
To be sure — when we are on the receiving end of such denigration— there are good reasons besides nondisclosure contracts to keep our stories to ourselves. According to research on concealable stigmatized identities — think sex workers, drug users, people who’ve had abortions, as well as victims of rape, sexual harassment, and abuse — dealing with stigma and discrimination can have a exceptionally negative impact on our health.
Negative disclosure responses, like what I suffered through, can be terrible, however the very same research study finds that favorable experiences with disclosure can have the opposite result. Not only do favorable, helpful, and accepting responses assistance us fix up ourselves with the stigmatized identity, however by speaking up, we learn we’re not alone. In sharing our stories, we experience some restitution by reconnecting to our community, it is a vital step in recovery. And often, however seldom, we win something of a victory, especially when powerful individuals ally themselves together with us even in the face of excellent chances (or, in this case, deep pockets).
Enter Elizabeth Warren, who has showed up to the last two democratic debates fighting mad. “This is individual for me,” Warren began last night in action to Bloomberg’s dismissive claim that her project platform to safeguard women was a simple “sideshow.”
Warren went on to inform her own story of pregnancy discrimination, then condemned Bloomberg with his own words: “At least my boss didn’t tell me to kill it,” making recommendation to something Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one staff member when he discovered that she was pregnant. (Bloomberg has denied the accusation under oath and entered a personal settlement with the woman.) It was a effective second act to her skillful takedown at last Wednesday’s debates. Standing up for the women she describes as “muzzled,” Warren forced Bloombert to modify his company’s policy on NDAs, as well as lift the nondisclosure arrangements of 3 women. But as Warren put it last night, that’s not enough: “If he states there is absolutely nothing to conceal here, then sign a blanket release and let those ladies speak out so that they can inform their stories the method I can inform my story.”
Watching Bloomberg rise in the polls these past weeks has actually made my heart sink, and so seeing Warren eviscerate the white male billionaire on national television as soon as and then again, has been well, genuinely delightful. In my mind, Warren ranks alongside Stormy Daniels and Monica Lewinsky, 2 females who were shamed for their sexuality that went on to become outspoken supporters. These ladies refuse to ask forgiveness or diminish from their experiences. Rather, they hold up a mirror and make clear that the embarassment guys cast on females is their own, not ours.
Today, as a consequence of informing my story and in spite of the way I was treated, I am entirely comfy with who I am. In addition to being a freelance writer, partner and mother of 2, I will always be a former sex worker. Rather of sensation at chances with that identity, I’m at peace. I’m an sincere individual, and no one can disparage my character. Can Mayor Bloomberg state the same?