How #metoo happened to me
(above: Harvey Weinstein auditions a young actress)
A lot of women have been speaking publicly about sexual harassment, and this got me to thinking that it’s only really being talked about because Harvey Weinstein is such a public figure. Most of the men who harass women aren’t famous. They’re your fathers, and brothers and, yes, even sons.
This is surely going to come as a major shock to any decent man who doesn’t engage in this behavior himself, but sexual harassment is such a common issue to young women that many of us celebrate the day we officially become too old to be considered sexually attractive because for the first time in our lives, we’re actually free of random comments, kissy noises, “accidental” ass grabs and other things men do when their wives and mothers aren’t looking. I know it’s my favorite part of being “over the hill.”
I’m going to tell my own #metoo stories, in reverse chronological order. The first involved my first major editorial job, one I wasn’t qualified for other than that I had a passion for the subject matter — and apparently, the editor who hired me had a passion for me. I was 22 to 23, and over the course of the time I worked for him, the guy never did stop propositioning me. When I demurred explaining that I didn’t do married men, he then got his wife to proposition me on his behalf, explaining that she wouldn’t mind a bit.
I was relatively lucky. Aside from the verbal barrage, I was never touched inappropriately, and my work at the magazine earned me several promotions, which were never offered to me as trades for sexual favors (since that stayed firmly off the table). Why did I put up with years of suggestive and lewd comments (like him telling me he had watched so much porno that he could tell what a woman’s breasts looked like when she was fully clothed)? Simple: I was young and cute and it opened a professional door for me that probably wouldn’t have opened if the editor hadn’t been trying to get in my pants. I put up with it in exchange for professional advancement. And much as I hate to say it, I’d probably do it again.
Now let’s move on to the more egregious cases. When I was a freshman at NYU, I went out to a deli for a sandwich and on the way a man passing me on the street just casually reached out, grabbed my tit, and walked away. I was shocked and humiliated. That’s exactly what he had wanted, I’m sure.
This is in addition to the constant catcall narration that accompanies any young, pretty women walking down an urban street. Again, this is something that happens to every woman, no matter what she is wearing and no matter what time of day it is. In my case, because I grew up in the city, that catcall harassment started when I was 13 or 14. Right around the time I got boobs.
Welcome to womanhood, eh?