Ryan Cherwinski got more than he bargained for at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s pizzeria in Savannah, Georgia last week! And I have to say, it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy. As he was leaving the restaurant, he decided to ‘cop a feel’ and grab the derrière that was attached to and owned by waitress Emelia Holden. Bad move, bucko. Look what happened …
As you can see, she didn’t even think twice about it …
“I was like nope, that’s not going to happen. It felt a lot longer than it was, but then watching it I realized how quickly I reacted to it. I’m 115 pounds. … I didn’t know I could do that.”
Holden asked a co-worker to call the police. After speaking to Holden and watching the surveillance footage, the Savannah Police Department arrested Cherwinski, took him into custody and charged him with sexual battery.
“I was really satisfied when he was arrested. It not only felt like justice for me but justice for the other women who have had that happen.”
Now, I am not condoning violence here, okay? Some are probably thinking, “But Filosofa, we thought you were against violence?” I am, however, in this case, I think it was fully justified. Personally, I do not like being touched by a stranger and would likely have acted similarly. Women were not, contrary to what some like Donald Trump believe, put on this earth to be a plaything for the male race. With one possible exception, no man I know would dream of making unsolicited physical advances toward a woman. But, recent studies have shown that women who work in low-wage restaurant jobs are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment.
Jocelyn Frye, who researches women’s economic security at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington, found this year that workers in food services and retail filed more than three times as many claims as employees in higher-paying fields of finance and insurance. Frye also found nearly three quarters of those filing sexual harassment complaints also reported retaliation.
A 2014 report from the Restaurant Opportunities center also found two-thirds of female restaurant workers were sexually harassed by restaurant management, by their co-workers and by customers. A third of women reported that unwanted touching was routine.
This is simply wrong. The #MeToo movement went viral last October and has continued to grow beyond its origins in Hollywood to the fields of science, religion, medicine, sports, academia and politics. It is time to bring it to the retail & food service industries. Ms. Holden was brave, and likely very fortunate that the restaurant’s security camera was in the right place at the right time and recorded the incident, otherwise it would have been a matter of “her word against his”, and Mr. Cherwinski initially tried to claim that his hand accidentally brushed her as he walked by her. The video shows otherwise. If there had been no video? I’m willing to bet that Cherwinski would have reported the incident to restaurant management and Ms. Holden would have lost her job, while Cherwinski would have been given coupons for a free meal or two. The tendency seems to believe the man over the woman.
The #MeToo movement has heightened our awareness. I don’t think most of us realized how wide spread the problem of sexual abuse was until last year. I certainly didn’t, and I am constantly amazed, befuddled and disgusted by the people who thought they had a right to take advantage of a woman just because they could. Because the woman relied on them for a job, in many cases. This is a crime against women, and there should be no doubt of that. BUT … when the president of the country has proudly admitted to sexually abusing women, and has not been held accountable either in the courts or in the court of popular opinion, it sends the message to some that it must be okay. Even evangelical Christians, when asked how they reconcile his behaviour with their own values, rationalize that “God has forgiven him”.
There are others in our federal government who, rather than set a positive example, have chosen to ignore social norms and denigrate women: former Judge Roy Moore who ran for U.S. Senate last year, was credibly accused of pedophilia; Blake Farenthold, former representative from Texas; Trent Franks, former representative from Arizona; Al Franken, former senator from Minnesota; John Conyers, former representative from Michigan. And the list goes on and on. These are men who make the laws, men we all trust to ensure equality, and they cannot even keep wee willy winkie put away! ENOUGH!!!
For far too long, women have been afraid to come forth, afraid to tell, afraid not to succumb to men’s sexual aggression. I applaud the move taken by Ms. Holden and hope it serves as an example for women everywhere that we do not have to put up with this!