About four years ago, I was at a party with a guy I had been on a few dates with. Nothing serious—we had kissed maybe three times. Everyone was drinking and having a good time, but I stayed sober. The guy I was with was drinking, but he wasn’t drunk.
A couple hours in, when the party was really beginning to fill in, he pulled me inside to talk. “Let’s go to *****’s room,” he said in my ear. I followed.
I would say “Like an idiot, I followed,” but how would that make me an idiot? Having the nerve to trust someone I was dating, someone I had known for a few months and considered a close friend—that didn’t make me an idiot.
I followed him into the room and he started to kiss me. His hands were wandering and I was starting to feel uncomfortable—like I said, we’d barely been on a few dates and I didn’t feel at all ready to go any further with him. I pulled back and said to him, “You know I’m not going to have sex with you, right?”
A dark, frustrated look suddenly cast over his face. “Are you serious?” He grabbed his crotch with an open palm. “What am I supposed to do with this?” I was so taken aback that he actually had the balls (no pun intended) to blame me for his erection and insinuate that it was now my responsibility to do something about it that I didn’t even respond. He pushed me down on the bed and I froze. After a few moments of clumsy attempts at feeling me up had gone by, I pushed him off and left. I never told anyone, and I’ve never spoke to him since.
I’ve spent years somewhat angry at myself for not telling anyone. I’m a feminist. I’m strongly against sexual harassment and I’m overcome with anger every time I hear something about a man taking advantage of a woman, and yet I felt ashamed. I felt like somehow it must have been my fault. Why did I follow him? Was I giving off the wrong signal? Was my skirt too short? All the stereotypical bullshit that runs through a female’s head when she is in an unnerving situation with a perverted asshole.
That’s why it’s easy for me to believe that the 27 (as of today) women who were harassed by Harvey Weinstein have been keeping quiet since the 90’s. Women don’t talk about these things. Women blame themselves. And what’s worse: everyone else blames us, too.
I was talking about the Weinstein accusations with a friend the other day and he said something that really pissed me off: “Yeah, that’s Hollywood. What do you expect?”
Yes, it took place in Hollywood and there are a lot of stereotypes that start with the “casting couch” and only go downhill from there. However, there is absolutely NO WAY that the simple fact that this is something that happened in Hollywood to a bunch of actresses and models, should make this okay.
When is it not going to be okay for men to sexually harass women? No, seriously, when is it ACTUALLY not going to be okay? Because there are laws in place, workplace contracts, seminars, protests, brochures—basically every form of anti-sexual harassment language you can think of. You cannot begin a new job/university/class without being briefed on sexual harassment. Yet, it hasn’t gone away at all. These accusations are as recent as a couple years ago, and I’m sure there are more to come forward that haven’t yet.
So why don’t women report? Because “that’s Hollywood.” Because we feel threatened. Because we feel like no one will believe us. Because there’s money involved and we just aren’t in a financial position to turn that down. Because we’re afraid we’ll lose our entire careers—and in many cases, we will.
I don’t even know what to say about this, because what can be done? What will ever actually change? We have done so much as a society to preach anti-sexual harassment, and yet it’s barely made a dent in the reality of it.
***On a somewhat (but not really) unrelated note, why is Harvey Weinstein always stripping naked and demanding massages? Does he know NO smoother ways to approach women? And how many times did he chase women around his office IN THE NUDE? To get naked and be turned down is one thing, but how do you get to the moment where you’re like, “Hmm. She’s saying no but that can’t be right. I should probably run after her with my dick dangling between my hairy old man legs.” LIKE ?????????