Guest Post: ML Nystrom, #MeToo & Ready For It

Guest Post: ML Nystrom, #MeToo & Ready For It

The #MeToo movement started in 2006 and became viral in 2017 when several female celebrities made it into a hashtag on Twitter as they came forward with their stories.  Since then, women of all ages in all social arenas have come forward to stand up for themselves and share their experiences with harassment and sexism.  This is what I had in mind when I searched for Melanie’s story in Ready For It.

My first experience with #MeToo is not one of harassment I would say, but one of sexism.  I was in high school in the early ‘80s.  My life revolved around music and playing in the band.  I lived, ate, and breathed music.  Academics were secondary, and yes, it showed often in my grades.  The position I craved the most was being chosen as the drum major.  I fell in love with the idea of being in front of that massive ensemble conducting all its sound and power.  So much so that I auditioned for the spot three times, sophomore, junior, and senior years.  Each time, someone else was selected for the position.  My last year, a boy who tried out on a whim was chosen.  That decision killed me.  I already had plans to go to school to become a music educator and the news that I lost the drum major job, yet again, blew my mind.  I vividly remember the day I entered the band director’s office and asked him why.  His first sentence is one I could have lived with.  He said he needed his best players and best marchers on the field.  I was okay hearing that.  It made sense, but he didn’t stop there.  His second sentence affected me so much that I decided music education wasn’t something I wanted to pursue.  He said, and this is a direct quote, “Besides, I’ll never chose a female to be a drum major.”

What did this mean?  It meant that no matter what, I would never be chosen for anything.  Not the Governor’s summer program, not the John Phillip Sousa award, not the drum major position, nothing with any significance in the high school band world.  My director was an outstanding teacher in a lot of ways, but my impression of him is forever tarnished by that single sentence.

I’m not alone.

Melanie is my nod to the ##MeToo movement.  Her story is more extreme than mine, but follows the same pattern of having to fight for recognition. She has her own struggle to overcome the demons of sexism and harassment.  Ones that take years to heal from that have isolated her into a private world of pain.  Many women share her tale.  Owen is the man who helps her through it as a good man should.  He has his own problems to handle; ones he has dealt with for a lifetime that have also set him apart from others.  Melanie is the person who accepts him as he is.

Writing romance is wonderful, as there is always a happy ending.  Not so in real life, but happy endings are still possible.  Despite my experience, I entered the heavily male dominated field of band instrument repair.  Thirty years later, I’m still here and am highly regarded by both men and women in the industry as a top technician.  It is my hope this book will help someone find their own inspiration for overcoming whatever obstacles are in the way.

You’re not alone.  Peace be with you.

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