When I was young and more attractive, I had my share of creeps. A half-dozen instances come immediately to mind. I’ll share a few, just for context. One time, at a work party, a coworker trapped me in an embrace and pressed his erection against me, declaring his affection for me. After a few disgusting seconds, I wriggled away. I vomited in the restroom. Then, I stayed near my male buddy the rest of the night. Later, this same man, as he was being laid off, told the executive team that I was sleeping with a coworker and he figured he had a lawsuit against the company, since I was the human resources director. I wasn’t sleeping with a coworker, but even if I was…well, you get it. I refused him, so he tried to get me fired. Fortunately, he had no power.
One time, a vice-president of the company I worked for took me to dinner and tried to kiss me in an empty elevator. I rebuked him successfully, without having to mention that perhaps he should get home to his pregnant wife instead of accosting me in the elevator.
And there was the report from my THIRTEEN-year-old daughter last school year.
“Mom, I heard a boy talking about me. It made me feel really weird.”
“What did he say about you?”
“That he ‘would so f**k the s**t out of me given half the chance’.”
I wanted to vomit.
I have others, but that’s enough. You all have your own stories. You know.
This world is full of pigs. Obviously, given the number of the #metoo posts the last few days, it is prevalent in all social and economic circles. I worked in high-tech. But it happens in academia, politics, medical fields. It’s EVERYWHERE. In the case of Hollywood—and I fully get this as a former aspiring actress, and as a writer yearning for success: power is powerful. Those who hold the power, get away with more than the rest of us. They get away with it because they surround themselves with a posse of protectors. They get away with it because they hold something we want. They get away with it because no one wants to come forward and be the only one who will say the truth.
The: old boys club. The: scared silent. The: I really need my job.
The pigs make it seem like our fault.
It’s humiliating to come forward. We know we won’t be believed. We’ll be called hysterical, or a man-hater, or a bitch. And, there’s this awful truth too. There’s a part of us that believes it is our fault.
I shouldn’t have accepted the dinner invitation from the vice president.
I shouldn’t have gone up to Harvey’s room when he invited me.
We all agree that it will never change unless we start talking. Well, we’re talking now. Those women who came forward with nothing to gain but potential Hollywood blacklisting are so brave. We cannot ignore them this time. Their bravery has the potential to change everything. Regardless, sorry Harvey, but you’re going down. And so are the pigs who protected you. Welcome to the world of the powerless.
My novel, Riversnow, is about a Hollywood actress who takes down the rich and powerful politician who raped. Her courage causes others to come forward. Then, she kicks the crap out of with a steel-toed boot Oregon style, but I digress. It’s not too hard to figure out who I based the politician on. Or, should I say, the myriad of men I based him on. Riversnow is a story of empowerment—of finding the courage to take down the devil. Strangely, a Barnes & Noble advertisement for Riversnow was the lead-in for the Harvey Weinstein stories last week.
I use my words to bring love and positivity to the world. I know some people don’t like me for it. Last time I posted on my Facebook feed that we should be kinder to one another, judge less and love more, a writer acquaintance of mine blasted me with a hate-filled message about Trump and his evil ways and how dare I diminish our problems with my vanilla message. Those weren’t his exact words, but you get the idea. He shamed me for speaking my truth—made me feel bad and embarrassed. Kind of like a bully…hmmm…but I digress.
First of all, my thoughts on kindness had nothing to do with politics. I was reflecting on a personal situation in which a woman was critical of other women for no other reason than to be, at best, petty, but more accurately, mean. As a side note, I don’t talk about politics in a public way. I just don’t and I never will. Does that mean I don’t have opinions? It does not. But I choose to use my voice to spread love, not hate. And politics, as entrenched as we all are in our opinions, has no room for love. Hate me for it if you want. I don’t care.
I use my voice to spread love. You know why? Because the world is full of hate and evil. We know it. God, how we know it. My heart’s still breaking over Las Vegas. But if we succumb to hate, love will never have a chance. Those of us who are fueled by love—we must love harder. We must spew it out like the haters do hate. We must actively love.
Most men are not pigs. Most men are good and loyal and respectful to women. I know this because of my dad, and my brothers, and the two young men I’m raising, and my best guy friend, and my first love, and the man I’m married to, and the one I used to be married to. I know this because of Emerson’s music teacher, and my favorite teacher growing up, and Bruce Springsteen’s song lyrics. These are good men. Dare I say, great men. They would no sooner use their power to harm a woman than jump off a cliff without a parachute.
For all the pigs, there are so many, many good men. Unfortunately, we never talk about them. And don’t get me wrong, we need to talk about and expose the pigs as loudly as we can. We need to support those who share their stories and hold them in our collective hearts. We need to say: we are here and we hear you.
But what about the rest? What about love?
What about the men who empower us and encourage us? What about the ones who told us when we were small that there was nothing we couldn’t do, or have, if we worked hard? What about the men who ask our opinion and really want to hear the answer? What about our coworkers who treat us as an equal, no matter how pretty we are? What about the men we’re married to who often take a back seat so we can shine? What about the fathers of our children? What about the way they look at our daughters across the dinner table and say: “You are enough. Just how you are. You don’t ever have to apologize for who you are, or who you want to be. You are smart and strong and beautiful.”
What about them?
What if we gave love as much air time as hate?
What if we started talking about the good men?
What if our stories of our good men taught the little boys who will someday be powerful men to respect and empower women? That would be good.
My dad always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. He told me I was smart and strong and beautiful. He told me I was special.
And so I am.
Share your stories. Spread love.