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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Hunting and Gathering in America

kalina_hunter_gatherer-2Over the past few days I’ve watched several Trump surrogates attempt to deflect questions from women, young girls, and reporters about the recent allegations against Donald Trump.

Mike Pence, when given a question asked by an eleven year-old girl who felt disheartened by Trump’s language, switched to a conversation about foreign policy.

Ben Carson, when pressed by a female reporter to answer whether or not he believed the allegations against Trump, started talking about the economy–and then asked if they could switch the reporter’s mic off so he could keep talking…about the economy.

There’s a reason why women keep ‘harping’ on about this stuff, you dimwits.

This is the stuff that matters to women.

This matters. Our needs and our bodies and the right to exist without stumpy fingers inserting themselves somewhere—-literally or metaphorically. That shit is important. This stuff matters.

That’s why we’re grabbing you by the (metaphorical) balls on this one and not letting it go. Despite the deflections and the denials and the redirection, it’s not going to go away. (Note: don’t try redirection on mothers who have survived multiple Target toy aisle meltdowns. We’re the masters of redirection.)

Look, obviously the economy is important. Foreign policy is important. And national security and a hundred other things. They are what I call ‘Big Game’ stuff. They are the Hunter Policies: How do we protect jobs? How do we secure our borders? Trade deals. Chest thump. Meat roasting over an open fire.

But in our insistence upon focusing solely on the Big Game stuff, we often ignore the policies which affect day-to-day  living, working, and raising kids, saying alive and unmolested: The Gatherer Policies.

How am I going to get to work when my kid is sick? Can I afford to take time off work because the American maternity leave hasn’t progressed past the stone age? What am I going to do if my birth control fails because we can’t afford another kid? How do I protect my child if he/she is gay or transgender? Do I feel safe going out for a run? How am I going to be caretaker to both my children and my parents? Is that guy at work who is brushing up against me and commenting about my breasts going to block my promotion?

Our ancestors knew that protein was critical to survival. But they also knew their newly formed tribes and communities would not survive without the day-to-day sustenance that gathering provided. Not to mention the small task of securing the survival of the species by caring for the next generation.

Yet those damn hunters. They get all the credit.

Grabbing women without consent? It’s important. But it is also a metaphor for this election. When it becomes clear that you can’t even understand WHY women are pissed about this, it becomes crystal clear that lots of men have NOT BEEN LISTENING AT ALL.

For many women, those ‘social issues’? It’s the shit that keeps us up at night. Because they seem less significant than things like foreign policy, they often get subsumed. They get buried under all the Big Game stuff. Men often don’t worry about things like bodily autonomy because it is not an issue for them. Reproductive rights are abstract rights for men. Family leave affects them, but in a financial sense. They are not the ones who are limping back to work with stitches from an episiotomy still in place.

This is the stuff that matters to many women. And for centuries our needs and wants and political desires have been largely ignored. The berries get overlooked in praise of the meat.

In recent times, sex and gender roles have blurred. More women are bringing home the big game bacon and more men are doing their share of metaphorical berry-gathering. But that doesn’t mean the Gathering policies are any less important. On the contrary.

hoodie-womens-rights-are-human-rights-d001006467062The fact that forcing yourself on someone is wrong and indicative of a larger issue should be pretty damn easy to understand. It really doesn’t get more basic than that. Thou shalt not grab pu**y. Most women just assume it is a basic guarantee, filed away under life, liberty and the pursuit of unmolested happiness.

But for a lot of people, it would seem that it is not so evident. They keep deflecting and changing the subject and trying to convince us that we’re stubbornly missing the ‘important stuff’.

Damn guys, if you can’t even understand that for women, the basic idea of existing as a human being means that no one is entitled to snatch the snatch is the important stuff?

We’ve got a long way to go.