Recently, I read about an incident in Pennsylvania that left a unnerving effect on me.
Sixteen-year old Emily Houser began working at a local Chili’s restaurant in Pennsylvania when a new manager was also hired named Josh Davidson. Davidson began to make unwanted advances toward Houser on the job and even went out of his way to show up to her house and force her to go on dates.
This continued for two years until Davidson made a public announcement during Houser’s 18th birthday party that he wanted Houser as his official girlfriend. She turned him down, but he continued to show up to her door with both physically and emotionally abusive behavior toward her the more she protested his advances.
Eventually after two years,he backed off. But his attention went to another young girl who worked at the restaurant, so Houser took action.
She reported Davidson to the Chili’s headquarters and put in her two week’s notice. Instead of being fired, Davidson was relocated to Montgomery, Pennsylvania.
This past Sunday, several of their co-workers threw Davidson a “Fuck Emily Houser”party to support him. Davidson posted a photo on Instagram of a cake that read “Fuck Emily Houser,” along with comments that read #teamjosh, and a caption that said, “Have your cake and eat it too hoe.”
Houser read those comments and went back to the headquarters to ask about the privacy of her reporting Davidson. They simply responded, “Please don’t assume who told everyone about this case.”
Reading about this case makes me sick to my stomach. Davidson is a reason why we as women need to continue to fight for their rights in the work industry. There is the issue of victim-blaming that goes into this case.
Instead of firing Davidson, the company transferred him as if Houser was the problem. Just because the harassing stops for Houser doesn’t mean it will stop for other women working in the restaurant he was moved to.
There is also the slut-shaming party that occurred, which disgusted me even more. The fact that multiple women and men thought it was OK to use derogatory language like “hoe” and “slut” toward a young woman for reporting her manager for sexual assault is mind-boggling to me. Looking through the comment section was far worse. While many women and men praised Houser for coming forward, others turned to victim-blaming. Interestingly, there were a lot of women who said the same thing had happened to them, but they were too scared to say something.
One male commenter even said “Why didn’t she come forward from the start?” It’s questions like these that prove we need to spread awareness and create an environment where people feel comfortable bringing their assault to light.
That commenter has no idea what it’s like to go through something like this. He has no idea what it’s like to have that instance occur in a work setting.
April marks Sexual Assault Awareness month. We see sexual assault depicted in media and television, but there’s still a level of ignorance when it comes to sexual assault. Instead of believing Houser, co-workers jumped to Davidson’s defense. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because he was the manager. Maybe it was because he was well-liked. But none of those factors matter when Houser said no to multiple advances. Let’s start opening our minds and stop silencing those who reach out for help.
Email at Kavita Singh at email@example.com