It’s not as though Harvey is the first perpetrator we’ve heard about

How do you imagine it would feel to have this creep come at you, demanding sex in exchange for job security? (Photo by NY Daily News)

 

Harvey Weinstein is nothing more than a symptom.

People are shocked, shocked, I tell you, that he got away with harassing and attacking women for so long, but I don’t think I know a woman in any job that hasn’t been harassed, assaulted or discriminated against because she won’t put out, because some man feels as though he is entitled to sexual gratification because the women (or girls) he is pursuing seem attractive to him.

Too many men have this same sense of entitlement and they use their positions of power to pressure women into submitting.

Here are just a few from my past:

  • I was molested from the time I was 3 until I was 11.
  • I discovered a manager where I worked was turning the heat down so he could look at the erect nipples of women who worked for him. Nothing happened to him, but I was threatened with firing for reporting it.
  • A colleague kept pressuring me to sleep with him, so I went to the publisher, whose response was to chuckle and say, “Oh, that’s Bob.” There would have been no repercussions except I went back and asked for his home phone number. Thinking he had made another conquest, Bob gave me the phone number. I stood up and announced very loudly that if he ever spoke another non-work-related word to me, I would call his wife. I gave the number to every other woman in the office. Bob backed off, but I lost my job shortly afterward.
  • I used to do stand-up comedy and a club owner cornered me in the back room promising me a “prime spot on the bill” if I gave him a blow job then and there. I told him he could fuck himself. I remember that there was a coffee pot next to him and I briefly considered getting him to take out his penis so I could pour scalding coffee on it.
  • When I was in sales, a customer cornered me and groped at me. I managed to escape and my boss, God bless him, went into the customer’s place of business and promised to educate him with a baseball bat if he ever touched one of the boss’s female sales reps again.

These are just a few incidents, and only those related to sexual harassment. I won’t even go into issues of pay and opportunity here.

So, why didn’t I tell anyone I was being molested? Because I went to a church that taught me I was dirty because I was a daughter of Eve and therefore guilty of Original Sin, which, by the way, is seduction.

In the religious tradition of my childhood, women are evil and must be controlled. Rape is always our fault because we are always guilty of seduction, even when we’re children.

I didn’t tell anyone because I knew in my little heart that I was the guilty one. I knew I’d get in trouble if I said anything and then everyone would know I wasn’t a good girl. I was in my 30s before I ever uttered a word.

My perpetrator died in his bed, respected and adored by a community of people who thought he just was good with kids.

Talk to any woman who has worked and she likely has a story — probably multiple stories — of being pressured to have sex with a man who thinks it’s his right to use his power to satisfy his pecker.

When we’re raped, we’re asked why we were where we were or why we wore what we wore.

“Why were you with him?”

“We were on a date.”

Why were you dressed the way you were?”

“I was on a date.”

“But those heels, they just beg for it.”

“I was on a date.”

“And why did you have a drink with him?”

“We were on a date.”

“And you got in the car with him. Why?”

“I was on a date.”

“You let him walk you to your door?”

“I was on a date.”

See, if we say yes to a date, apparently, we’re saying he can take what he wants in exchange. So it follows that if we say yes to a job, apparently, we’re saying yes to sex.

When the young Kennedy cousin was accused of rape in the 1980s, people blamed the victim because she took off her pantyhose. My question to these people was: “If you’re going to walk barefoot on the beach, are you going to wear your socks or take them off?” and “When did taking off your socks to walk barefoot on the beach become an invitation?”

When Anita Hill challenged the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, people rushed to his defense and accused her of trying to take him down out of some sort of jealousy. Why would any woman risk everything to come forward like that?

These were 30 years ago and we haven’t even come close to eliminating the problem, to believing women when they try to report harassment or assault.

It’s time to believe the women. Hell, I’d be thrilled if people saw the truth in the bragging of powerful men. Talking about grabbing pussy is not “locker room talk,” it is the confession of a crime.

In fact, after SCROTUS was “elected,” I ran a group called, “I Believe the Women,” and the stories of the women who attended were pretty much the stories we’re hearing this week about Harvey Weinstein.

Ask any woman who has had a job for any length of time and you’re likely to hear some stories like the ones I have related here.

A woman attorney friend of mine was invited to a meeting at a club where all the the waitresses were nearly naked. She was the only woman at the meeting. Imagine how that felt.

Another woman I know was raped by her grandfather, who was a minister, and then passed around for the other church leaders to enjoy. She was told it was her fault and she should ask God for forgiveness.

Another friend — a girl in the church of my youth — had an affair with the pastor when she was 16. That’s not old enough to consent when the person demanding sex is in such a position of power.

On college campuses, as many as one in two female students is raped, and the perpetrators usually get away with it.

And then we have powerful politicians who are against both birth control AND abortion, but who pressure their mistresses to have an abortion when they get pregnant.

Is it true of all men? No. But it is true of enough men so that just about every woman I know has a story.

Harvey Weinstein is not an aberration, he is just like Roger Ailes, Bill Clinton and way too many other men who have a sense that they are entitled to sex with any woman they want.

It is long past time to shut this shit down. Restore Title IX, protect women on campus and in the workplace.

Punish the offenders.

Believe the women.

 

 

 

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