RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The #MeToo campaign has taken hold of social media feeds from California to Kentucky, which happens to be where MORNING EDITION producer Ashley Westerman is from. And Ashley noticed something this past week on her own social media feeds. She's in the studio now with me. Hi, Ashley.
ASHLEY WESTERMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.
R. MARTIN: So, Ashley, you're from this really small, conservative town in western Kentucky. You saw your friends weighing in on the #MeToo campaign. That was a big deal. Explain why.
WESTERMAN: It's a big deal because people just don't jump onto social media campaign bandwagons like that.
R. MARTIN: That's not what they do there.
WESTERMAN: This is the first time that I've noticed an issue campaign like this trickle down on Facebook in my home community.
R. MARTIN: Wow. So you decided to reach out to some of these women that you saw posting about this on Facebook. What did they tell you?
WESTERMAN: Yes, I did. One woman I spoke with is Julie Martin. And she spoke to me on Skype. And she is someone I've known pretty much my whole life. She grew up in the county. She's always lived and worked in the area. Her first job out of high school was a - she worked at a grocery store. And then she was a stay-at-home mom. And then she worked at a community medical center. And then she's worked at high school these last 14 years.
R. MARTIN: So what did she tell you? Why did she feel compelled to join the #MeToo campaign?
WESTERMAN: Julie said she did it because she's been harassed in the workplace. And it mostly happened when she was younger.
JULIE MARTIN: They would refer to you as sugar [expletive] or honey bun and sweetheart and darling. And I'm not your sweetheart. And I'm not your darling, you know (laughter)? I had one grab my behind. And after I jumped him and explained sternly that that was not acceptable, I never had that problem with him again. But you always have the verbal harassment - that some guys just feel they have that privilege.
R. MARTIN: So what did she do about it?
WESTERMAN: Nothing. She actually never reported any of it.
J. MARTIN: I've always been one of those that was taught that you deal with problems yourself. You don't shove them on someone else. When he grabbed me on the butt, I didn't go to my supervisor. And to this day, I still regret not going to my supervisor and saying, hey, we have a problem.
WESTERMAN: She regrets it. And you know what? Julie has three daughters and four granddaughters. And she says if they told her that they were being harassed at work, she would tell them to tell someone.
R. MARTIN: What has changed now? I mean, why does Julie think that now is a better environment, a better climate for women to come forward?
WESTERMAN: Julie just thinks that women are more empowered because of social media.
J. MARTIN: It doesn't really matter whether you're in a small community or a larger city. That's something that has just always been not talked about. And so many people have faced that. And maybe they felt that they were the only ones. And then when they started seeing me too, me too, me too, they're like, hey, wait a minute. Me too. And it's nothing to be ashamed of.
R. MARTIN: A message that's resonating, no doubt, with a lot of women, a lot of people. That was Julie Martin. She was talking to our own MORNING EDITION producer Ashley Westerman. Ashley, thanks so much for reaching out to Julie and for then sharing her story with us.
WESTERMAN: Thank you for having me, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.