I’m tired of this happening
This is not something I’m excited to share, but it’s been on my mind for a while now and I feel like I should get it off my chest.
Working in the social media world puts you in contact with all kinds of people, and while most of the time they are professional and positive experiences, I have plenty of experience in trying to be exploited by business partners. I recently was in talks to be partnered with a brand, which was seemingly innocent. I had seen other streamers work with this person, so I felt as though it must be trustworthy and dependable. So I accepted his offer and we began to work together, during which he personally communicated with one of my assistants and I over text messages about the business and how we could work together to improve output, etc. We were on friendly terms, and I was constructive our business arrangement.
However, after several months of working with him with no issues, he sent a message telling me he would be in my city (he lived on the other side of the country), and a very forward request asking me to meet them “for dinner” in person during a regular conversation about work. I was instantly uncomfortable, and unsure of how to respond to his request to meet up in person one on one. Given the post-pandemic world we live in, I’m very hesitant to meet up with people in public, and as a woman, putting myself in a situation with a man I only know through business transactions over the phone for a private meeting is not something I am eager to do. I continued the conversation about business, not initially responding to his dinner offer, and his tone immediately became aggressive, threatening to end the deal when they thought that I had declined his invitation. This obviously completely surprised me, and I couldn’t help but feel like this professional relationship had been damaged because of this person's potential interest in getting the chance to meet up with me in such a private setting. I know that he works with other girls, and I have never heard anything about the brand or the individual in question making private dinner invites or having a reaction like this, so I was unsure of what to initially say. But just because this didn’t happen to other women doesn’t mean it can’t happen again, which is what led to me sharing this today.
I do not know if the individual meant any real harm in his dinner invitation, which is why I was unsure about talking about this in the first place. It could have been a perfectly reasonable offer, one he would have given to a male influencer in my position, without any kind of ulterior motive. But his reaction to me not immediately accepting is what made me want to share this experience. He didn’t brush it off, didn’t let it go when I didn’t immediately respond, he called me unprofessional and threatened to end the partnership entirely, because I didn’t give him a yes or no to his sudden dinner invite in the middle of a business conversation. I have been in so many situations like this before, and I’m sure that other girls in this profession are met with these situations all the time, where you expect to be treated appropriately in the context of a business deal, partnership, etc, and instead are met with suggestive “offers” or interactions that completely shatter any concept of professionalism, expectations thrust onto women in the industry that no one would expect of a male influencers. It honestly disgusts me that I am expected to put myself in potentially dangerous situations just because of the way people online (even business partners) perceive me.
I just wanted to bring awareness to the fact that this kind of thing happens to women in the workforce all the time, not just influencers but models, entrepreneurs, labor force workers, or just women in general. I have worked hard to get to where I am, and I don’t want special treatment, but I want to be treated like an equal to those I work with. It is unacceptable for women to have to be trained on how to politely decline a request that makes them uncomfortable, or worse, force themselves to accept, just to continue to maintain brand relations and partnerships. I hope that by speaking about how this kind of thing continues to happen in the workforce today, that we can hold ourselves and the people around us to a higher standard of professionalism when working with women, and create a safer environment for women to continue to succeed in a professional work environment.