I see all these brave women standing up and sharing their stories in the wake of the Weinstein drama. The comedy scene that I am apart of is OVERFLOWING with women speaking out. It’s tragic and beautiful and heartbreaking. I, myself, have told close friends my stories but I hesitate to share them publicly. My heart races thinking of posting this. What if my family reads this? What if there are reproductions to my speaking out? What if I am banned from a comedy club for causing trouble? What if I am bombarded with the normal onslaught of questions any woman faces when she finds her voice (why didn’t you say anything before? Are you sure you remember correctly? What were you wearing? Why were you drinking? etc… )?
Last night, I was having drinks with my coworkers and this topic came up. I casually mentioned how I had debated accepting a drink from one of the other men of the group, because it is obvious that he has a crush on me and I didn’t want to do anything that he would consider a green light for his interest. I was shocked to see the confusion on these men’s faces. They had never even considered that. They were amazed that it was something I actively access when interacting with men. I realized then that these guys, good guys who I respect and trust, still do not grasp how deep this problem runs. They have no context for understanding. They walk through the world with a different experience. If I only tell these stories to the women in my life, then the men, these potential allies, will never truly understand the problem. If we can’t understand it, we can’t fix it.
With that being said, here are a few of my stories:
- When I was 16, I was drugged at a party by a man 9 years older than me. That is how I ‘lost’ my virginity. It was taken from me. Afterwards, he told his friends that I just ‘laid there’ and was “boring” in bed.
- When I was 19, a boy who was my friend raped me in a tent at a house party. I told him no, he forcefully removed my pants. I was stunned, because I thought this person was my friend.
- When I was 24, I went to the house of a guy I knew from the comedy scene. We kissed a little bit and then I said I just wanted to sleep, I was tired. I woke up to him going down on me. It hurt. He bruised me. For days I couldn’t wear jeans because I would feel his mark.
- I took voice over classes, and the instructor would put his hand on my thigh in the sound booth, telling me how good a job I was doing and how it turned him on. He tried kissing me in a bar at the class party. I reported it to the man in charge of the booking the classes, he sympathized. Then the instructor was booked for 3 more classes.
- On my 25th birthday, I had to call the cops on my then boyfriend because he was drunk and violent. He started throwing things around the house and screaming and yelling about how he loved me. My roommate and I hid in her room. The cops went to the wrong apartment. It took 3 hours to get rid of him.
- A coworker gave me the silent treatment after I told him it was inappropriate to touch me in the office. Some how, it was my fault. HIs actions, of kissing my forehead, and playing with my hair, and pulling me in for hugs, were making me uncomfortable. They were unwanted. But I was the bad guy for making HIM feel awkward about his behavior. He told another coworker that if I didn’t want that attention I “shouldn’t be wearing the outfits that I do”.
- I went to a wedding with a friend. He proceeded to get more and more intense over the course of the wedding. I felt hunted. He pinned me in a hallway and tried to kiss me. When I stepped back, I hit my head into a wall. This did not seem to phase him. In the room, he repeatedly tried to get me to have sex with him. I told him “I do not want to have sex with you”. He woke me up at 4 am asking if I wanted to watch him masturbate. The drive home he repeatedly apologized for the fact that we did not have sex the night before. So, in effect, apologized to me that he was not able to negotiate my ‘no’ into a ‘fine’.
- I was walking down the street and a man said hello to me. When I passed him without saying anything, he followed me for half a block, calling me a bitch, and a whore, and ugly anyways.
- My boss told me I was too bubbly in meetings and it was hard to take me seriously. After the next meeting, which I didn’t smile during, he told me I seemed to have an attitude problem.
- This morning, my Uber driver told me that I looked skinner than my photo. Not that he was implying i’m fat now…
To me, this is part of being a woman. Constantly being under threat. Constantly assessing what is safe and what is not. Doing quick calculations of how to deescalate a situation when I suddenly learn that the man who I am alone with, the man who I thought was my friend, is anything but that. How do I get out safe? How do I get out with the least horrifying version of the story? This happens FREQUENTLY. These are just a FEW examples, the worst examples, of the god damn BULLSHIT women deal with daily. And even with the above, I still consider myself one of the “lucky ones”. How fucked up is that?