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TBA Online: News & Features: June 2018

The Business of Show Biz: Dear Terrified Men

Wednesday, June 6, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Rotimi Agabiaka
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by Velina Brown

Q: So, before I say anything else, I’m not supporting rapists! It’s time for all this sexual abuse of women to stop. But not everyone is a Harvey Weinstein. Sometimes it could just be a misunderstanding. It seems like you can’t even smile at a woman without getting accused of something. I am not a rapist but I’m worried. How are men supposed to function in this business anymore and not be terrified all the time that everything they’ve built could be destroyed if they just look at a woman?

Actor and career consultant Velina Brown.


 A: Okay. I have to stop you right there. Men are not losing their jobs because they smiled at someone or looked in their direction. Hyperbolic statements are not helpful. This is a time in which we all, men and women, need to focus our efforts on being completely clear to avoid any, as you say, “misunderstanding.”

The short answer is: You can smile at a woman; just don’t rape her. Furthermore, you can smile at her; just don’t put your hands on her. You can smile at her; just don’t put your hands on yourself in her presence (if you know what I mean). You can smile at her; just don’t expect and demand that she smile back. She doesn’t owe you anything. As long as this is perfectly clear there’s no need to be terrified. You’re safe.

Female attention and sexual favors need to be disentangled from the male definition of power and success. They are not perks that one simply gets to “grab” once one has achieved certain goals or amassed a certain dollar amount. They’re not part of your benefits package.

Still feeling a bit vague? I got you.

Actor Lizzie Calogero shared with me a tool that comedy writer Anne Victoria Clark created to help concerned men everywhere. Clark asks, “Are you a man confused on how to treat the women you work with? Do you feel like if you can’t say or do anything you don’t know what to say or do at all? Well stress no more! This life hack will have you treating women like people in no time.” Basically, treat all women as you would Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Please check it out. I’ll wait.

Helpful, right? With this tool you’re totally safe and so are the women around you!  However, my sisters, if we are dealing with men who haven’t found out about the handy “Rock Test” we women need to commit to being more direct about our boundaries.

I’ve seen this best modeled by a stage manager who bent over while packing up props and got swatted on the butt by a musician. I don’t think he meant any harm but he did not have that sort of relationship with her. She immediately turned to him and said, “I forgive you but don’t ever do that again.” It wasn’t a big scene. She simply in the moment let him know that she did not welcome such behavior.

Please note, there was no giggling. You know that fake laughter women sometimes do around men when we don’t like something but expect the men to somehow read our minds? Sisters, please stop doing that. Men think we like what they’re doing when we laugh. It sends an incorrect message.

Also, there was no yelling, no name calling, no tears, no drama, just an even, clear toned “ I forgive you but don’t ever do that again.” It didn’t cast a pall over the rest of the season or even the day. The message was simple, clear, calmly delivered.

He heard her. He didn’t do it again. When I mentioned the impact that the SM’s handling of the situation had had on me she said she didn’t even remember it. That’s how completely she’s dealt with it. My guess is if she hadn’t said anything or just whispered about it to others behind his back she’d probably still be angry about it.

Of course, if you’re in a situation in which you physically don’t feel safe being direct please do what you need to do to stay safe. Otherwise, women, let’s commit to clarity.

And men, commit to listening to women and stopping immediately when we inform you of our boundaries. Ideally, you never overstep boundaries because you don’t do or say anything you would not do or say to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. That way we can all function well in this business—because time’s up.

Velina Brown is an actor and career consultant. Send her your questions at


Elizabeth Finkler says...
Posted Monday, June 11, 2018
Velina, thank you again for your clear-headed, practical advice. BTW, your fellow advice goddess Miss Manners states that the proper way to approach a co-worker that you might have (ahem) feelings for is to politely ask if you might see him/her outside of the workplace. WITH the understanding that this request may be politely declined.