When I was in college one of my dearest friends was raped. She had traveled abroad with a guy she was dating. While thousands of miles from home, she decided she know longer wanted to date him. This didn’t suit him, so he raped her, repeatedly.
She flew home and moved my apartment, which I shared with another dear friend, and stayed in bed for weeks. Her former boyfriend broke something in her. He stole her trust. He gave her reason to be afraid. His violation covered her shame.
At the time, I lacked both the language and empathy to understand what she was going through.
While I had been in numerous deeply uncomfortable situations with boys and men, I, thankfully, have not been raped. I look back now on the many guys I drank excessively with, flirted with, passed out next too and I feel moved by their character. Isn’t that pathetic? I am proud of these guys for not raping me.
I never doubted my friends experiences and yet, somewhere, in the late eighties, the unconscious misogynistic woman in me thought perhaps she put herself in that position. I was conditioned to believe this. Trained by society. I am mortified to admit this. Actually sickened by my ignorance. At twenty years old, I lacked the feminist insight to understand the depth of disregard we’ve created for, in and about women.
After college, I moved home to Los Angeles and took a job with the most prestigious talent agency in Hollywood. This was the year Anita Hill stood on a mountaintop told the world she was sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas. When my colleagues and I talked about her case, we laughed about pubic hair on a can of Coke.
My conditioned self-loathing, my second-class beliefs a la vagina, were on flagrant display as I joked with my male colleagues, not fully comprehending what was happening culturally, not grasping the ferocity of Anita Hill and the disdain some men have for strong, vocal, intelligent, capable women.
Not believing I was truly worthy, my words aided the myths told about women.
I was sexual harassed repeatedly at this job. Not by my boss, who was and still is an upstanding man, but by other Agents. Agents who would slather all of over me, words, hands, advances. All unwanted, all without encouragement and, yet, I was theirs to fancy. I had no idea how to deal with these men.
Earlier that same year, I had briefly dated a man who, instead of raping me when I refused to have sex with him, literally destroyed the hotel room we were staying in. He threw furniture, smashed the TV and for the finale, punched his hand through the window, glass raining down twenty-six floors onto the Central Park South sideway.
I watched as he raged. I tried to protect him when the security guards came to our room, when I could barely open the door as the cross winds from the missing window created serious suction. I sat by his side in the emergency room as he was stitched up. Then I went back to the hotel with him, to a new clean and undamaged room. I didn’t know what else to do. I had nobody to call.
Why don’t we believe women when they say they have been assaulted and raped?
We didn’t believe the handful of women who claimed Bill Clinton assaulted them.
We didn’t believe the hotel worker who alleged NBA player Kobe Bryant raped her in his hotel room in Colorado.
We didn’t believe two women who said NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger raped them.
We shamed Mia Farrow and normalized Woody Allen after he had a relationship with their adopted daughter.
Bill Crosby is still walking the streets.
Everybody in Hollywood knew about Harvey Weinstein, no matter what they claim, and said and did nothing.
Do we really hate women this much?
And are women so deeply conditioned to hate ourselves and other women that 53% of white women gave permission for a man who (highly likely) raped a 13-year old girl, who sexually assaulted dozens of women, who admitted to grabbing our pussies without consent, to occupy the highest office in our country?
62 million Americans cast a vote for the rapist scumbag now occupying the Oval Office.
Since Harvey Weinstein has been ousted, I have learned from too many of my soul sister girlfriends, that they too were raped by male friends, raped while passed out, or fingered by their doctors, their prom dates, friends of the family.
And, last Saturday, while at my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, an old family friend, a man I have know for over thirty years, my father’s peer, couldn’t take his hands off of me. When I said hello and he tried to kiss me on the mouth, multiple times. He ran his hands up and down my body, touching my back, arms, hips and ass, multiple times. All unwanted, unwarranted and fully disgusting.
Thing is, I said nothing to him. I avoided him. I didn’t make any eye contact for the rest of the evening. I didn’t know what to do. Outspoken me had no words to tell him to stop. I was afraid of making a scene. I wasn’t even being raped and yet, I was frozen in fear.
As I write this, #MeToo is trending on Twitter. #MeToo are stories of women being raped and assaulted. #MeToo are stories women are sharing to release shame and let other women know we are not alone. #MeToo is a tag of resistance. #MeToo is our voices rising together and take down the perpetuators of these crimes.
The biggest perpetuator of all is the man bearing the title of the President of the United States of America. He has admitted to sexual assault. There are at least 15 women who allege he violated them. There are probably many others.
If Harvey Weinstein can be dethroned, so can trump.
And we are the army who can bring him down. We have the voice. We are the majority. We need to speak up and speak out.
While I don’t know all we can be doing (please do send me your suggestions) here are some ideas –
TODAY’S EASY ACTIVISM –
1. If you have the wherewithal, speak up if you have raped or sexually assaulted. If you are on twitter, use the hashtag #MeToo. Do this daily. Keep this hashtag trending so media covers it. Tag @realDonaldTrump
2. Call your Legislatures (Senators and Members of Congress) and let them know they need to hold trump accountable for sexual assault. Ask them what they will do to hold him accountable. Ask that they meet with the victims. Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, a name to remember, hired Gloria Allred to nail trump on sexual assault. Demand an investigation into the allegations made. I imagine we should have done this with Bill Clinton too.
3. Believe women, and men, who are brave enough to come forward and call rape. While there are rare instances of people do claim to be raped and it’s false, most people are telling the truth. We need to create a culture that supports victims.
4. If you haven’t yet, read Jon Krakauer’s Missoula. It will blow you wide open.
5. Educate your daughters and sons. Educate them on our unique anatomy, on our differences in sex drives, on how to give pleasure, on how to ask for what they need, on how the clitoris works. We seem to neglect this in our society. Too many women are not attended to properly. Educate them that consent is mandatory. No means NO. A woman (or man) passed out is not a glory hole. Pornography does not depict a woman’s pleasure. Make sure they understand.
We need to hold rapists accountable. There was no justice for Jane Doe in regards to Stanford rapist Brock Turner (may we never forget his name).
When people say No Justice, No Peace what they are saying is that there is compromise when lives are being taken. Justice is the only remedy. In cops killing black people — no justice, no peace. In men raping women — no justice, no peace. In trump occupying the Presidency — no justice, no peace.
Justice is removing him and his band of complicit counterparts, the majority of the GOP, from office.
While I didn’t do enough for my dearest friend the eighties, which I am so sorry about, I can certainly do something today. Speak out. Speak up. Fight back. Dethrone Trump. Save our Democracy. Save our humanity. Protect each other.
With love and gratitude -
P.S. - Seattleites - VOTE CARY MOON for Mayor. While we will ultimately have a woman mayor (wahoo!), there is only one candidate who intrinsically understands the crisis facing our city from homelessness, housing, jobs, costs, environment, traffic, black lives, diverse lives, etc. She has a solid plan. I've known Cary for years and she is wickedly smart, incredibly hard working, thoughtful, knowledgable and it reaching all corners of our city.