I’ve been telling myself over the last few days that I need to write a blog. As the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment/assault/rape scandal appears to rock Los Angeles, as well as (perhaps) the rest of the United States, and woman after woman steps forward to share her own experiences with harassment/assault/rape, my silence frustrates me. But, at the same time, I feel like I’m exhausted just thinking about prior experiences. I don’t need to see all my female friends step forward with their “me, too” moment. And I’m sick of the men who are aghast at just how many of us there are.
Because here’s the thing — you don’t actually care. Many of you are the actual abusers. And women are so used to it that we don’t even think to share these incidents with our male friends and colleagues because we know that most men fall into two camps: the ones who abuse and the ones who ignore the abuse. The third camp is so small that it is hardly visible. Because, really, you didn’t know? And because even though you haven’t been inappropriate yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. Experience has taught us that you are far more likely to be inappropriate than to be consistently appropriate.
It is worth mentioning that many of the people who have harassed/assaulted me have been “good guys.” It’s inexplicable to me that anyone in Hollywood thought Harvey was a good guy (I mean, really? If I heard stories, are you telling me you — Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Meryl Streep — didn’t hear anything?), but many of the men who have made me uncomfortable appear, on the surface, to be good guys. And this is why women either don’t trust or don’t report.
I told one of my friends that a guy we both knew had sexually assaulted me. His response? He wanted to hear both sides of the story because he figured there had to be an explanation.
Another guy — an upstanding family man with a pretty wife and three kids — did a favor for me, making a quick photoshop adjustment to a file while I was on the road and away from my computer. What did he want in return? A photo of my breasts. Guess what? I gave it to him. Because I needed the file adjusted. And because I’m used to this.
Another guy — a nice, solid, upstanding man — did another couple favors for me. What did he want in return? Some photos of my breasts and some explicit videos of me. Guess what? I gave it to him. Because I needed his help.
Another guy — married, smart, successful — wanted to do a photoshoot with me. After the shoot, he made his move. When I resisted, pointing out to him that he was married, his response: “we won’t tell her.” This time I did not comply, because I was suitably horrified. He tried a few more times before I got away. Guess what? I never got the photos.
Another guy — a music producer — approached me, wanting to write some songs together. Things started out well, until it became clear that he mainly wanted to sleep with me. I would not sleep with him. The songs were never completed.
If these stories shock you, it’s only because you haven’t listened to us. It’s because you haven’t been paying attention. It’s because you’ve laughed at the jokes and the boob pics and the catcalling without thinking about how it makes us feel. It’s because you interrupted us when we were trying to tell you something without even realizing you were talking over us. It’s because we stopped trying to tell you because you wouldn’t listen. Or because your first reaction was that there must be two sides to every story because my side couldn’t possibly be right. It’s because you have asked me to use my body to pleasure you without asking yourself if I was getting pleasure, too.
These stories no longer shock me, and if they shock you, I wish I lived with you on your private island or in your hermetically sealed universe. When these situations do not occur, I am pleasantly surprised. And I’m lucky — I intimidate men, or so I’ve been told since I was about sixteen. In these kinds of situations, that can work to my advantage. But as you can see, it does not render me immune. I don’t know a single woman who is.
Now that you’ve gotten over your shock, why don’t you try listening next time?