If one woman told the truth about her life, the whole world would break open–Muriel Rukyser
This, in some ways, was a good weekend in spite or perhaps because of the relentless rain. I worked at an event hosted by my favorite tea room (Belladonna in Sandwich, IL. ) We who vended gathered in the community room in the basement. Met some fun people. Made connections for future shows. And came home with money, a neat trick at events with art and crystals and other fine things.
And we had respite from the wider world, most welcome after the events of last week. Again, a sexual predator with more power than anyone should have abuses it. In this case, a movie mogul who preyed on rising stars.
Harassment, abuse, and assault happen in the entertainment industry. In the corporate world. In families. In any walk of life. To women and girls of all ages, and yes, it happens to men, as well.
I used #metoo as my Facebook status over the weekend. Both because it happened to me, too, and support for friends who also survived harassment, assault, and abuse. The stories continue pouring out, stories that need to be heard after being kept under wraps for a lifetime. I felt really cold as I read them. I don’t know if my skin will ever stop crawling.
In my own experience, there are two incidents I do not wish to discuss with the general public, at least not at this point in time. But I will tell you this:
- On the first day of sophomore year of high school, a boy walked up behind me and tickled my buttocks. Twice. He stood there laughing at me. I was able to get his name from another classmate and reported him to the assistant principal. He did leave me alone after that.
- While I walked home from school, I was followed by a man who waved at me and pointed at his passenger’s seat. He materialized every few blocks until I was safely in the door of my house.
- My father was a stark raving misogynist who frequently ended his hateful diatribes about women with “Can’t you take a joke?” or when informed of a boy harassing me or hitting me at school would tell me, “Oh, he likes you. That’s why he did that.”
- In college, I walked back to my dorm from the library along the road ringing the academic mall. I was followed by a car with a passenger who hung out of the window shouting “Yo, Adrienne, will you marry me?” I ignored him, distracted by calculating the best way to safety down the wooded slope along the road. Finally, with a shout of “Bitch!” they drove off.
- When I first moved to Chicago, I worked at a mom-and-pop costume and personalized jewelry store. As I set up the display one morning just before opening, a semi-romantic song played over the canned music system. A man somewhere in his forties with the classic touch of grey at his temples and wearing a well-cut suit came up and asked me to dance. Stunned, I stared at him for a moment, then said “no.” He asked repeatedly. I refused repeatedly. He made some comment about me not wearing my dancing shoes and wandered off to his next attempted conquest. The incident came up in conversation with one of the other sales associates. I described him. “Oh, yeah. He’s the head of security.” Insert eye roll emoticon.
I think the world cracked open a bit wider this last weekend.
I hope the light gets in to the crack and exposes the power trips, the desire to humiliate, the continuing issues with boys not being taught about consent, and how we still live in an incredibly unequal society.
I hope that the wave of feminism that started in the ’60s regains energy and leads the way forward.
I hope that we can create a society where everyone feels safe.
And I hope you know that if anything like this happened to you, #IBelieveYou.