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Speak

Recently, Brie Larson stated that “To live life as a woman is to live life on the defense.” Unfortunately, she’s not wrong. And even more unfortunately, sometimes, that extreme, layered caution isn’t enough. With the recent issues regarding Harvey Weinstein coming to light, I have some thoughts.

 

Whisper networks exist as a workaround, not a solution. If you’re a woman, you know this routine and can dance it in your sleep: “Hey, so, be careful around Bob. He’s been here forever. He’s friends with Joe. But just…don’t go anywhere alone with him, ok?” Women talk—when they do—to warn others away. Sure, you can go to HR or someone in a position of authority. You can cause a scene when someone slips his hand, uninvited, down your pants…but.

 

It’s the ‘but’ that’s troubling, because a million things matter at once: Will you be believed? Will he retaliate? Will it damage your reputation?

 

Too often, a confession about a pervert/creeper/rapist is met with something maybe worse than a deafening silence: denial. Indignation. Defense.

 

Oh, but he’s such a nice guy. I can’t believe that.

He seems so well liked.

But he’s never done anything to me.

That can’t be right. Maybe you’re misremembering.

That’s just how he is. He’s really friendly.

No, he’s just awkward. He doesn’t have good social skills.

 

Spoiler alert: creeps and assholes aren’t overtly creeps and assholes all of the time, without discretion. That’s often a factor in how long they get away with it. Asshole camouflage, if you will. So, it warrants saying: just because a man wasn’t inappropriate with you, that doesn’t mean someone else’s experience is therefore false.

 

Truthfully, most people don’t stand up and name their accusers, because of fear. That fear is easily reinforced, daily, in a multitude of ways I’m not going to get into here. But that fear is usually founded in the idea that this person, abusing his authority, will abuse it further–and obviously, to your detriment. There’s always the fear that people will, instead of believing you, point a finger at you, laying the blame not at your feet, but in your bones.

 

What were you wearing?

Were you drunk?

Are you sure you didn’t encourage him?

Maybe you flirted with him a little too much, and he got the wrong idea.

 

I could go on, ad nauseam, but I won’t. I’ll just say this: any woman who comes forward does so at great cost (emotionally, at the very least) and great risk. Anyone who meets her confession with silence or denial is part of the problem. Period. And if there’s been a cadre of douchecanoes running around behind the scenes, making sure things stay quiet? Culpable. A co-conspirator. An accessory to harm.

 

Women are tired. They’re tired of folks like James Woods, being hideously gross toward a young Amber Tamblyn. They’re tired of having to dress a certain way to hopefully avoid being harassed, even though we know that clothing has no bearing on whether or not the crime happens. But, sometimes, we tell ourselves it will lessen our chances. It will dissuade creepers from the never-ending saga of creep.

 

Back to the Weinstein story: I am deeply revolted that a gaggle of men who have benefited from their relationship with Weinstein are silent. I am also disgusted to learn that an earlier news story was quashed, apparently with the help of forever problematic, but now downright awful Matt Damon—and Russell Crowe.

 

There are good men out there. I’ve been lucky to know a bunch of them, to count them as family and friends. To be able to say, hey, Jensen Ackles is a good person. To be able to say, if I have a problem, I know so-and-so will back me up, believe me. I’m lucky that when I speak, someone always listens and makes noise. That I have a heap of girlfriends who will always listen, advise, and stand beside me. That’s not nothing. It’s everything.

 

But things have to change. Men have to step up and challenge things. Because for every Kevin Smith and George Clooney, there’s an infinity of silence and Damons. For every Emma Thompson, there’s a Donna Karan (which, bye Felicia, you peaked in the late 90s). And that’s not okay. It’s not okay for a victim’s first thought is either will someone believe me or was it my fault? We’ve been conditioned to brace for the excuses and the bullshit. We’ve been conditioned to ingest the blame like poison.

 

Just look at what Rose McGowan’s had to goddamn deal with the past week or so. She’s having to defend herself and her own experiences, because even the specter of a man’s previous power has more weight than her own words.

 

And frankly, honestly, no. That’s enough. It’s enough. It’s too much and too long. And I don’t know how to stop it, but I know that speaking about it is necessary.

 

Are we friends? Do we know each other in passing or more than that? My door is always open. Some dude creep on you? Concerned about someone who just seems this side shy of inappropriate? Bring it here. Worried that I won’t believe you, because this dude and I are friends? Don’t be.

 

I will believe you.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Robyn Hayes
    October 10, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Bingo. Just now had this discussion with my beloved husband. “Richard, do you know what a trigger warning is? Do you know how a trigger works?” Every time a creeper like Weinstein gets exposed it triggers an avalanche of memories for every woman who has been mishandled by a male. And I do not know even ONE who will honestly say no man or boy has ever done any wrong thing to her. And by the time the memory parade is over, all the hideous instances of boob grabbing, ass pinching, skirt lifting and (in my case) things much worse, by the time that show is halted I feel again, hopeless, helpless, defeated, ashamed. And it has to STOP. It simply has to stop. He agreed, but like me, he does not know how to make it stop. Women like you Ali, will help to make it stop. Thanks for writing.

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