One More Harvey Weinstein Mother F$%^ker and I’m Gonna Lose My Sh#$%^t!
By Melanie Ulle
Every day I read another barrage of articles about one more piece of human garbage groping, threatening, exposing himself to a woman in the workplace. It is exhausting and numbing. Is it too much to ask dudes to just stop sexually harassing women?
Truly, is it so preposterous to agree to not touch a woman’s private areas, or say or do anything that would make her feel emotionally or physically threatened or ashamed? This does not seem like an imposition on men’s productivity or efficacy in the workplace. It seems like real life and choosing to follow the social norms we were raised to accept and follow.
I was at a professional conference the other day and several female fundraisers and I were speaking about the decades of sexual advances we have endured, shooed away, or silently tolerated throughout our careers. We came to realize it was the same powerful and wealthy Denver men who made us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.
Not all men do it. No shit. We know that. But too many men are comfortable sexualizing and preying on women, thereby robbing women of their power.
I know the difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment. I have experienced them both. A few times. When I was 22 years old, I was sexually assaulted by a serial sex offender on the street as I walked home from a bar. I was one of his four victims that summer. It made me feel unbelievable shame. My own beloved grandmother asked me, “what were you doing out so late at night?” as though assault was just something that happens when you stay up too late parading around town. My attacker went to prison for nearly twenty years; now he is out and I pray he isn’t back to stalking women on the street.
It feels like it happened to someone else because it was so long ago and I am a different person. But there are moments when I recognize I am still deeply broken. Last summer when I was in a karate class, the sensei with whom I was grappling tried to show me how to escape when pinned under a larger person. To illustrate, he pinned another woman and asked me to try it; I immediately started to weep. I told him I couldn’t do it. I was in a class with kids all around me and at forty years old I cried like a baby and couldn’t stop. That nasty shame again.
I worked in politics for a very long time and one night many, many years ago the security detail for a member of Congress came to my door in the middle of the night and tried to force his way into my hotel room. Luckily, he was so drunk I easily pushed him out.
The next day when I saw him, I actually felt guilty as though I had done something wrong. I can’t count the number of times I have blamed myself for how men have behaved towards me. It’s that ugly old shame time and time again. Too many of us have too many of these stories.
For too long men have considered access to women’s bodies and women’s sexuality their right. To the extent that when this perceived right is challenged, men believe their power is being taken away. Dudes, you NEVER had that power. That is a gross error. To every dude who is feeling particularly vulnerable right now, to every dude who feels this whole Harvey Weinstein “nonsense” is one big overreaction, and to every dude who is confused about what is and is not appropriate when it comes to interacting with women--you feel that way for a reason. And we are watching you. We know who the Weinsteins are--we see you, we talk about you, your reputations proceed you and we use your names. I say it again: we are watching you.
As the mother of two young girls, I have taken enough of this bullshit in my 41 years for both my kids’ lifetimes and I hope their response to any such predators is a swift, hard kick in the balls. Better yet, I hope dudes will evolve past thinking Weinstein behavior is okay.
There is a domino effect playing out in the media right now as we watch all the Weinsteins fall, one by one. What if we were just a little bit louder and a little more honest? How many more would fall?