Wherever you are.
Whatever you’re doing.
Just know, that this one is for you.
I wanted to write this story for you because even though it is unremarkable and unoriginal, it happened to me and I don’t want it to happen to you, or maybe it already has and I don’t want you to feel alone.
I am tired of this story, but perhaps, just once more I will do my part and tell you about it.
My name is Tina Huang and I study at the University of Sydney.
A few months ago I went to interview for a paralegal / personal assistant job with a man named Charles Waterstreet. And during that interview, he showed me photos of naked women and a video of someone receiving a handjob.
He talked about attending sex parties, having many girlfriends and enjoying threesomes.
He stated he only hires women under 25 who are “pretty young things.”
He described me somehow as both a “boat person” and a “tiger mother.”
This is the part of the story where you think I would have realised that something was wrong, but I didn’t.
I had seen his show on Netflix.
Read his articles in the newspaper.
Seen the paintings of him that they hang in the galleries.
So, I went back.
At my first shift we reviewed a case where he crudely insisted there existed a “presumption of consent,” and I answered emails for him about missed payments for sex toys, and organised dates with women.
I quit shortly after and I’m glad I did, but I know he is still out there today hiring others.
Everyone keeps asking me why I’m writing this story, and to be honest I’m not sure. But I feel like if I waited until I was, then maybe this story would never get told.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this; I don’t know if I’ve done a good job telling this story, but I wanted to do it anyways. However imperfectly, I wanted to communicate a sense of what is possible in calling out men like this.
They think they are liberating us – by giving us work and good pay – but we are liberated only to be oppressed in other ways.
I hope people will remember me not as someone who called out just one man, but as a person who tried – despite her own shortcomings and powerlessness – to speak to a bigger problem and to do the right thing; in short, that which has always been what is most moving about the work of women in this country.
I don’t want to ruin this man’s life or have this story take over my own. I just want, as McKenzie Wark once wrote to Kathy Acker, “for a slice out of time to be singular together.” I want to tell you that I am alone and scared, but that for a slice out of time, I hope we can be alone together.
I hope, for a slice out of time, we can be brave together.
As Hannah Gadsby said at the end of her show Nanette, “this is my story, please take care of it.”
This is my story, please take care of it.
ED’S NOTE: Charles Waterstreet denies the accusations of sexual harassment levelled at him. You can read a statement from his lawyers at the bottom of this story here.
* Tina Huang is a gender studies and law student at the University of Sydney. She would like to credit artist Harland Miller for the introduction of this piece.
HOUSE AD – NEW MATILDA HAS LAUNCHED A MAJOR FUNDRAISER TO ENABLE OUR ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT DIRECTED AGAINST WOMEN. PLEASE CONSIDER CHIPPING IN A FEW DOLLARS BY CLICKING HERE.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault or harassment support is available by calling 1800 424 017 and speaking to a qualified trauma counsellor at the NSW Rape Crisis Centre.