Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Harveys

I’m getting whiplash from the continually breaking and increasingly disturbing allegations against Harvey Weinstein. And each day more women (and men) are coming forward to tell stories of their own. Stories of harassment at the hands of the powerful.

Same old song and square dance. In case it’s been a while since you heard this one, (who was the last? O’Reilly? Cosby? Ailes?), let me remind you how the old grab your partner do-si-do goes.

Grab your partner with your left hand! Powerful man sexually assaults/abuses/harasses women. Back to the Partner for a Right and Left Grand! Women are silenced by payouts, nondisclosure agreements, threats, bribes, and the harsh reality of bringing accusations against those in power. Ace of Diamonds, Jack of Spades! Excuses are made, justifications proffered, denials scattered like seed on the wind. Women are blamed for enabling the behavior. Meet your Partner and All Promenade! More women come forward. They are routinely accused of doing it for the fame/money/press. Men complain.

The dance ends. Until the music starts up again.

You see that neat do-si-do trick there? Men abuse. Women get the blame. Oh sure, we focus on the star-quality name for a hot minute or two. We all tsk-tsk and oh, isn’t that awful, but it always–always–comes back to bite women in the ass. Because by the end of it, the media, the powerful, the ignoramuses with Twitter followers (Et tu, CNN?) still put the burden on women to speak out and put a stop to this behavior.

It’s up to women! They must report it! They must stop enabling and allowing it! They must stand up to rich and powerful men (or just regular old asshole men who sign their paltry paycheck every week). They must create a culture at work which does not allow for this! They must understand not every creepy hand on a shoulder is sexual harassment!

They, they, they! Women, women, women!

Fine. You want to put the onus on women? Do it this way:

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Harvey Weinstein.

Or Ben Affleck. Or Casey Affleck for that matter. Or Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas or any of the thousands of nameless, faceless men across the world who feel the presence of a woman gives them carte blanche to grope, proposition, grab, belittle, demand, leer at–oh hell, use a damn thesaurus if you’re not sure what I’m trying to say here–women.

Once upon a time there was a seventeen year-old girl, working in an office for the summer. One day she had on a vintage green dress, the color of Sprite. Darted at the bust line, scoop necked, below the knee. She liked the way she looked in it. So did the man whose office she walked into. He liked the way she looked so much he backed her into a corner with his chair. He never got up, just sat, wheeling that chair from left to right so she couldn’t leave without brushing past him. There were suggestive comments about the lemon-lime dress. Most of them went over her head. Because she was seventeen.

First, she panicked. Is this real? Was she imagining this? Did she miss something? Then she planned. How would she get out of this? She could scramble across the desk but if she does her pretty, lemon-lime colored dress will ride up, exposing her underpants, her ass. Would he grab her? Would he put his grown-man hand, the one that looks like her Dad’s, on her skin? Too risky. If she told him to stop would he call other men over to laugh at his joke, laugh at her who’s not in on the joke? Too risky.

So she stood there. Because she was fucking seventeen and this man was an adult and should know better.

But he didn’t. Because–well, why didn’t he? No one taught him? Do you really need to be taught that crude sexual innuendo aimed at a seventeen year-old girl is wrong?

So she stood there. And she felt dirty. As if she’d done something wrong. As if she wasn’t getting the ‘joke’.

Do-si-do and around we go.

Let’s be clear. That seventeen year-old girl didn’t ask for a grown man to corner her in his office. What was she supposed to do? Who was she supposed to tell? In the end, she did what women have been doing for decades.

Nothing.

Seventeen year-old girls may be young, but they intuit the way the real world works. Which is why men mostly get away with it. Because no one is going to believe a seventeen year old girl over a grown man.

Just like no one wanted to believe a nineteen year-old Rose McGowan. Or maybe they did, but it was more important to protect the big, important man who held all the power.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Harveys.

This is not rocket science. This should not be hard. It shouldn’t take having a daughter to realize that forcing women into a corner, literally and metaphorically, is wrong. That soliciting women is wrong. That asking women to perform for you, on a casting couch, in a board room, in a work shop office that smells of metal and machinery oil, is not ok.

Teach your sons it is not someone else’s daughter’s fault. Or her responsibility. Teach them the lemon-lime color of a pretty, vintage dress makes no difference. Do not make excuses and justifications for the Harveys, the Clarences, the Bills. Because every time you do-si-do around the truth, you make it easier for the next guy to get away with it.

There are a lot of Harveys out there. Weinstein is not a one-off. His is just the biggest name..today. Most of them have no damn clue what they are doing is wrong. They lash out because they feel confined by political correctness.

Sure, because it’s political correctness telling your grown-ass, should-know-better self it’s not ok to corner a seventeen year-old. Or promise an actress a career-making role if she gives you a blow job. Or to talk about porn with your law clerk, or dazzle your White House intern with your power.

This is not about ‘how it used to be’. This is not about political correctness or not being able to ‘say anything anymore’. This is about power: who holds it and who doesn’t.

There are thousands of thousands of women with stories about their own Harveys.

Don’t let your sons grow up to be Harveys. And don’t let your daughters grow up to think they’re responsible for them.

I don’t remember that asshole’s name. But I can tell you the exact hue of that Sprite colored dress. And how I never wanted to wear it again.

 

 

All quotes from 21 Harrowing Stories of Sexual Harassment

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8 thoughts on “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Harveys

  1. bethlynette October 13, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    So sorry that happened to you. I agree with you about talking to our sons– I have a fifteen-year old and we’ve had several conversations already– but I think it goes beyond just talking. I think as moms one of the most important things we can do to raise our sons to respect women is to insist that their fathers respect us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dina Honour October 13, 2017 / 4:14 pm

      It sucks that it happened, that it happens, and that it needs to be written in the first place. But it does, and it does, and it does. We are changing. I hope. But two step forward, one step back. Do-si-do and around we go. Again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kate October 13, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    Sorry about your experience as a seventeen year old.
    I think teaching one’s son not to be a Harvey Weinstein partly involves looking at powerful men who are misogynists and rapists and talking about it. Say, I’m not going to buy the jersey of the NFL players who did XYZ to women. We aren’t going to listen to misogynistic music.
    Don’t confuse your children by making one misogynist a hero and the other a pariah. Skip the Woody Allen movies.
    We can vote with our dollars and our feet. I’m seriously considering getting rid of cable I am so disgusted with with the entertainment industry.
    I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools. One of the things that made me the most sick about the clergy sex abuse is that priests that I considered to be good men most likely knew about the abusers and did nothing. Surely many many people affiliated with Harvey Weinstein knew what he was doing and still chose to do business with him or be his friends.
    I think in the back of my head that Casey Affleck had some sort of scandal associated with him…but he still won an Academy Award anyway. What kind of people would give an award to a piece of human trash like that.
    We can hold accountable women in power when they don’t act in our best interest. For example a former university president in the town where I live was involved in obstructing a rape investigation. She also gave a minimal penalty to a figure in the University athletic department who did nothing when a female athlete complained about sexual harrassment by a coach. Was she held accountable in any meaningful way..not really. And since she has left her accomplishments have been celebrated,

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Melanie McNeil October 14, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    As a teen, I had many confusing experiences with men who should have known better. Frankly, I still find them confusing, except for the part about they should have known better. It’s a category of memory I choose not to think about a lot. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul Grizenko October 26, 2017 / 4:29 am

    Let’s NOT put that responsibility on the mothers. It belongs first and foremost at the husband’s/father’s/Dad’s door. And it starts with treating the woman he has married (or has partnered with) with respect and courtesy and support. But it has to start with respect. From that respect flows the example that the children (both male and female) will see, internalize and emulate.

    Unfortunately for you, that asshole learned the wrong lessons growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dina Honour October 26, 2017 / 8:08 pm

      You’re 100% right, it’s up to Dads (and Moms) to do this. But you know, the song only mentions Mamas ;-)–(that’s about as lighthearted as I get these days). But you’re absolutely right. On all accounts.

      Like

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