An unintentionally complicated writing assignment

It’s been a real ‘2018’ kind of week.

In this month’s issue of Skirt Magazine, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Susanne Norwitz, a wildly smart, fiercely driven, badass woman who has built her personal dream of clean skincare into a globally successful business in just a few years time. I feel so fortunate for the chance to chat with her about Maya Chia and will continue to be inspired by her mission-driven work.

Spotlighting Susanne is a perfect example of why I wanted to write for Skirt; powerhouse women like her deserve all the credit they can get (and then some). If just one female entrepreneur is inspired and motivated by Susanne’s journey, we’ve done our job. If one old man learns about her success and has the long-overdue realization that women are under-recognized for our achievements, we’ve done our job two-fold.

As a feminist, self-employed woman, I’m thrilled that our community has a platform for women’s stories. And as a writer, I’m always happy to craft these increasingly important narratives.

Here’s the kicker, though.

In this month’s issue, I was also assigned to write a profile on Mike Ray, the owner of Normandy Farms and One Broad. The magazine selects one man in the community to feature for their “Skirt Men” column each month, and Mike was picked for the Food issue.

And then last week, after the issue had already been printed and bound, Mike exposed himself at an event hosted by several talented, creative women (many of whom I know, and all of whom I highly respect). I was appalled. Disgusted. Pissed off. I still am. When I think about my byline being next to this man’s name, it brings me to tears.

I researched Mike before writing the story, reading pages of Google results to familiarize myself with his businesses. Nothing I read showed any indication of perverse or drunken antics. But as I’ve learned in the last week, his recent idiocy wasn’t an isolated incident. He’s been doing this bullshit for years.

And I think that’s part of the bigger problem here: for far too long, his behavior has been swept under the rug, laughed at, and worse -- tolerated. He’s never been publicly called out and he doesn’t have a criminal record, so most of us outside of the F&B scene had no idea.

Perhaps I was naive to not ask around more thoroughly. Skirt isn’t in the business of exposeés, so that didn’t feel necessary when the piece was assigned.

The feature is complementary; flattering, even. I’m sorry if reading it makes you feel disheartened or queasy (it certainly makes me feel both). Knowing what I know now, I never would have written about this man. His misogynist, perverted actions are in direct conflict with everything I believe in and hope to represent.

I’ll close with this:

I did everything I could to encourage a reprint without the story, but I’ve been told that expense would have threatened the magazine’s operations. Thankfully, this month’s issue is full of incredible stories about incredible women. If you decide to pick up a copy, I hope you’ll read them all (including Susanne’s Wellness Profile). And if you’d like to rip out the page with the perv, I’ve got a shredder you are welcome to borrow.

A daring adventure...