Cheryl Allison - Director
If you're looking to make a change from the ground up...start at the grassroots
My grandmother was born in 1919 the year women were given the right to vote. She recently passed away at 99 years old and she is my shero. What she lived through, what she has seen in her lifetime, the inventions in technology, WWII, the Great Depression, is hard for me to imagine and relate to. In November of 2017, in the midst of women sharing their #metoo stories of sexual harassment and assault, I found myself talking to my grandmother. Although 46 years of life experience separated us, there was one thing we shared...navigating the waters of sexual harassment. My grandmother told me stories of being a young widow at 29 and suddenly being responsible for providing for her two young children. She told me of taking a job as a secretary at a bank. Working long hours and weekends but she didn't complain. She didn't just want to keep her job, she needed to keep her job. Then she told me of a female co-worker who casually warned her not to be in a conference room with a certain patron of the bank. She told her to stay clear of him. To avoid him. Keep her distance. It was 1948 and the "whisper network" among women was strong yet silent.
Shortly after my conversation with my grandmother, an article appeared in a Dallas theatre news website revealing pervasive sexual harassment and assault claims against a well known local director. It also revealed there had been a "whisper network" among theatre women about him as it was widely known of his sexual harassment and assault. I found myself struggling with this rapid boil that was rising to the surface inside me. It's been 70 years since my grandmother began working at the bank and since then a lot has changed. She was twice widowed, she had 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. She lived out her days in a senior care facility playing bingo. So much of her life had changed except for the "whisper network." Hearing her story was a reminder to me that women navigating treacherous waters has been going on since biblical times. A result of living in a patriarchal society.
Although an important national reckoning is happening and much needed, if we can't begin to change the dynamics and behavior in our own communities, families, churches, schools, social circles, local government and state legislature, if we can't stop whispering, will a reconditioning ever occur? In an attempt to focus my anger into constructive fury, I called on my local community of Dallas, TX to speak up, to listen, to engage in conversation. They stepped up to the call. One community, many voices. It is my hope that audiences will not only watch this film but they will truly listen...and join the conversation.