That stupid hashtag is way overused. Instagram celebrities using it for really good coffee or finding a nice parking spot or otherwise finding/getting some sort of cool swag. Puh-leeze.

You want to know what truly makes you blessed? Friends. People who love you. People who go out of their way to show you that they love you. Add that to the “coincidence” of having it happen when you might be feeling especially bad about yourself or your depression (or other mental illness) is acting up, and you’ll really, truly know what it is to be #BLESSED. So much so that I wish I could somehow embiggen that word to make it more meaningful. Or add a serious “MFer” to the end of it or something.

You may or may not have read my last post. That’s how I was feeling after the first weekend of my appearance as Ursula in The Little Mermaid. I know. Ew.

But the universe or God or just the amazing kindness of people who care about me gave those feelings a massive can of whoop-ass over this past weekend.

Friday night, I knew my mom was coming to my show and she told me that 2 of my cousins were also coming and bringing their kids, which was more than enough. So nice that they wanted to come and share this lovely show with their kids, as well as support my return to the stage after so long! They live more than an hour away, so it was a big deal and I really appreciated it!

My cousin Johanna, brother Andrew, me, and cousin Katie

As I’m getting ready for the show, I had about half my makeup on and my costume. It was time for vocal warm-ups, so I had stepped out of the dressing room, talking briefly with my fellow cast members, when we heard pounding from what used to be the stage door, but now is just a door that stays locked to the outside. I was closest to the stairs, so I started down. About halfway down, I recognize the figure in the window, but my brain won’t allow me to believe it. It’s my brother, Andrew. With his daughter, Ella. WHO HAD FLOWN IN THAT DAY FROM CALIFORNIA. For one day. They flew in only to see my show and flew back the next morning. I was BLOWN AWAY. My brother, the professional actor, flew himself and his 3 year old from California, came to a night performance of my show and then got up the next morning and they flew back. And they did it because he loves me.

After the show, I ran down in my makeup and costume so I could show Ella. And she LOVED IT. This amazing child, who’s only really met me once, ran right up to me, sat on my lap, explored my makeup and costume and wasn’t afraid at all. And she was happy! I introduced her to the actress playing Ariel, too, but Ella wasn’t having it. As I introduced her, Ella saw that she didn’t actually have red hair. She said, “I’M Ariel.” Then Deanna asked her if she was a mermaid, and she said, quite sassily, “No, *I* have legs,” as she squiggled out of my arms and ran away. SO FUNNY.

It was so cool – the next morning I got to talk with Andrew about the show and get his impressions and feedback. It made me so happy to know that not only did he like my performance, he enjoyed the show in its entirety. For someone with his theatre/acting experience to be proud of me, meant everything.

Needless to say, after that surprise and the preceding performance, followed by Saturday’s matinee, I was TIRED. It takes a lot of energy to perform Ursula well. She’s constantly “ON.” Every moment is a performance for her – whether she’s complaining to her eels (the only beings she has to talk to) or putting on a show for Ariel to get her plan in motion, every single moment is carefully plotted and performed with clinical precision. And it takes a lot of energy to do. So by the time Saturday night’s performance rolled around, I was ready to perform, but knew it was going to drain me.

The audience Saturday night was every performer’s dream. They were on fire. The were with us every step of the way, laughing at every joke, applauding for every special moment, bursting into raucous cheers at the end of every song. They fed us every bit of energy we needed to amp up our performances and give that extra 10% that took it over the top.

Then comes curtain call. I’m the second to last one to bow and I have the delicious pleasure of getting to enter from far upstage and the cast parts to let me parade downstage – very Ursula-like. As the crowd parts and I walk, the freaking audience ERUPTS. Cheers like I’ve never heard. Then I see, in the last 2 rows of the main floor, a whole bunch of white fans waving and bobbing. I KNOW those fans. Those are the fans we’ve made for the high school musicals for the past 3 years to sell with the kids’ pictures on them. I know who makes those. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? (Actually, “what the fuck” is what I mouthed as I turned around and walked to my place with my cast mates.)

Without my glasses, I can’t see who the people are. I just see white fans. And blurry faces. As the stage lights go down, I race downstairs, get help removing my wig and costume, and run downstairs to see who the heck is here?

As I round the corner, I see something along the lines of this. (Not quite this organized and lined up, but these faces and fans.) Friends. Friends from more than 30 years ago. Friends I haven’t seen in 10, 20, 30 years. Friends who have FLOWN AND DRIVEN IN FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY. To gather, reunite, and support this one old friend who’s returning to the stage. Friends who love me enough (why??) to come in from NY, Michigan, Iowa, Seattle, and also from closer by. Friends who planned this gathering, bought tickets, gathered, and came. For me.

I have never been so overwhelmed in my life. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t think. I felt like I was out-of-body. I’m looking at these amazing people and I can’t function. I can’t do anything but cry & hug & stumble over words. My head hurt. I couldn’t…..I just COULDN’T. I don’t know if any of you have ever experienced an outpouring of love like this before. I kept thinking…why?? Why would they do this for me? I haven’t done anything for them. There’s nothing they’re repaying me for. How on EARTH could I have built up such a credit of love? I don’t deserve it. I can’t wrap my brain around it. IT DIDN’T MAKE SENSE.

They gathered around me, taking pictures, sharing their love and their amazing positive feedback about my performance, and I just stood there, gaping and utterly flummoxed. Because this kind of thing is what you see on TV or for someone who’s worked tirelessly for years helping children with cancer or something.

I cannot possibly, no matter how long I type, convey my absolute, overwhelming feeling of gratitude for what my friends and my brother and my cousins did to show me love this weekend. You made me feel so special, so thankful, so overwhelmed with love. You showed me that how I feel inside – no matter how strongly I might feel it – isn’t true. That I’m worthwhile, no matter how I look. That I matter. That what’s inside me has made a difference somehow.

Amy, Tammy, Tim, Dean, Tammy, Jannah, Sonia, Cha Ron, Linda, Leon, Jeff, George, Tony, Kathy. And your families. YOUR FAMILIES. Who came along somewhere they didn’t know to see someone they didn’t know do something they probably didn’t care about. Thank you. There will NEVER be words. I hope I can do something like this for you or someone else sometime. I want nothing more than for others I love to feel what I’ve felt.

Oh, and I have to tell you guys something interesting. That night, while I slept, I dreamt of you all. We were all going somewhere – like a field trip or going somewhere on a visit or something – and all of you were there. We were laughing and walking and having a great time. In the dream, I turned my head to the left, and right next to me was Tim White. Smiling and laughing with us, traveling with us where it was we were going. He was with us when you gathered at Amy’s. He was with us when you all sat in the Opera House. He was with us when you came down and met me. He was with us at the PourHouse. I believe it wholeheartedly.

Andrew – I know you’re my little brother, but your opinion and love and support of me means the world. Before, you HAD to see my shows. You didn’t have a choice, you just did. This time, you  made the choice. And I recognize the work, sacrifice, and time it took to do that. And I love you more than I can ever say.

Thank you all. You showed me what I can’t show myself much of the time. Acceptance. Love. Support. Belief. Caring. You are the ties that bind and I cannot believe that, 30 years later, y’all still care about me. But maybe I can believe it. Because I care deeply about all of you. Never let anyone tell you that high school friendships don’t last. Because they DO. If they matter.


Mashed Potatoes

 Welcome to Self-Loathing 314: Not For Amateurs

This is my problem. I know who I am. I know what I’m good at (singing, photography, edification) and what I lack (conventional attractiveness, the desired body type, nuance). I also know that I tend to lean quite heavily toward the “self-loathing” end of the spectrum and, while I’ll say thank you to people who compliment me outside of my comfort zone, I never actually believe them.

These past couple of months have presented me with a new equation with which I am having trouble coping. Wait, let me back up.

I have never been one to whom the typical attractiveness compliments have been copiously used. I’m not “beautiful.” I’m not “gorgeous.” I’m not “sexy.” I’m not “hot.” There were times, back say, 25-30 years ago, when I might have been considered those things because I had a conventionally attractive (bombshell-type) body, I was young & fit, I had great hair and was pretty attractive. Here, I’ll throw in a picture of me at my height of attractiveness. I was 22 and hot enough to appear as a stripper in “Gypsy.” I was tall, thin, muscular but not jacked. You could see my collarbone. Hell, you could have taken a drink out of my collarbone. But even at this point, when most people would have agreed that I could be described as any of the above adjectives, I wasn’t. They might say I was “striking” or “statuesque,” but never the others. So, by default, my brain because accustomed to the idea that they don’t apply to me. I’m not a beautiful woman. No, I’m not a woman who would cause one to turn to stone, but I’m not beautiful.

While I always WANTED to be the beautiful one (or the sexy one or the hot one or…..), I accepted that I am who I am and, honestly, I’d rather be accepted, liked, LOVED for who I am inside rather than for any subjective definition of attractiveness. Really. But down deep, like probably a lot of women, I would have been nice to be the hot one for once.

Now, believe me, I  know that to whom it matters, I am beautiful. My husband believes that and says so all the time. So I do hear it. But sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have the physicality of my 22 year old self along with the strength and power within myself that I have at 49 and be able to wield that in the world. To flirt with whomever I chose without fear of being shut down with disgust. To draw attention when I entered a room and to know what to do with that attention. To know that I was good enough to pick up any person I was out with if I chose…..and then choose not to. I wonder what that would be like. Because when I was attractive, I had no confidence and was sure no one would be interested because there was always at least one other girl who was the “hot” one and it wasn’t me. I would never flirt with anyone, really, because I was sure I had no worth. On the other hand, now, at 49 and mumble pounds overweight, I have the confidence and power within myself to flirt and trade barbs with anyone and I know the power I have as a woman and I’m not afraid of it. It’s interesting to contemplate.

Anyway. :sheesh: cut to a couple months ago when I started rehearsals for Ursula in The Little Mermaid. I am in this cast of unbelievable people. I mean, like WOAHMYGOD. Not only is every person in this show talented beyond belief, they are all attractive. Of course, 90% of them are under 30, so that helps, but they are also BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS, SEXY people who dance like Beyonce and sing like Sam Cooke & Sutton Foster. And those of us elders in the cast (4 of us) are not unattractive either. I would sit and watch these people rehearse their dances and, literally no exaggeration, my jaw is hanging open and I’m gobsmacked. Because I can’t believe what they can do and that they can look so amazing doing it.

As rehearsals continued, my interpretation of Ursula emerged. My Ursula is a combination of Tim Curry, Lafayette Reynolds, with a little bit of Patsy Stone, and a whole lot of plus-sized VAVOOM. She’s sensual, sexy, bawdy, and loves to masticate her words. And I think my interpretation surprised a lot of people. For some reason, I started hearing people call me “beautiful,” “gorgeous,” “dead sexy,” and other things like that. Which…….I don’t know what to do with. I’m not those things. Ursula might be, but I’m not. I would poo-poo it and just blame it on the Tim Curry as Dr. Furter voice.

But it kept happening. People repeated it. New people said it. Straight guys in their early 20s. Gay guys in their mid 20s. Women of all ages. They’re using these WORDS at me and I don’t know what to do. BECAUSE I’M NOT, Y’ALL. You don’t understand that I’m not. You’re not allowed to use those words at me. It’s false and if you keep it up, the earth will open up  and eat us.

I should have known. Because there’s only one thing more potent than the loving words of others.

Photographic evidence.

When I processed the pictures that our social media manager had taken at a dress rehearsal (I without makeup or my wig), I stopped short and literally felt a kick in my stomach. There it was, the proof that not only was I NOT THOSE THINGS, but that everyone had been lying to me. And I shattered because, for the first time ever in my whole life, I realized that I had allowed myself to believe their words a little bit. And now I was faced with the proof.

Yes, they’re bad pictures of me mid-song with no makeup and a wig cap on. Yes, I look awful. AWFUL. But beyond that, I saw that the vision I had of myself in this costume, in this ROLE, wasn’t true. I wasn’t dead sexy, I was like a pile of mashed potatoes in a corset. My breasts and chest gooping out of the top like a bad cafeteria meal. My arms are the size of hams. My underarms are bigger than the thighs of others. I’m HUGE. Which is great for Ursula and she rocks that body. But it shattered my perception of ME. And sometimes it really, really hurts to accept the truth about yourself, especially if you’ve allowed yourself to feel good for a little bit.

I honestly think it’s easier just to view yourself negatively. That way, truth bombs don’t shock and shatter. I don’t know. Yesterday was bad. It was hard to come to terms with. But today I’m better. Because I accept it. I am a very large woman. I am nearly 50. I  am not beautiful or sexy or gorgeous or hot. I am a beyond middle-aged housewife with raw bread dough for abs. I could probably change that a little if I wanted, but very minorly due to my knee problems. It’s best if I just accept who I am and stop trying to be a different, younger, more energetic, more electric, more vibrant version. At least that’s how I feel right now.

But I least I can live through Ursula. Right?


I Don’t Give a Ripe….

I haven’t been able to talk to my kids about this. To warn them. Prepare them.

I don’t know how to appropriately address this with my 2  boys who have Asperger’s Syndrome. My older will analyze, dissect, plan, and try to figure out how to construct the mental box that this goes in. My younger who will truly panic. Who will end up thinking about this every day, worrying about when it will happen and who will probably end up talking about nothing else at school.

And Henry, who won’t and can’t understand and whose very life would depend on the teachers and associates who care for him and who would be charged with figuring out not only how to protect their disabled students, but how to convey to Henry that he has to hide and BE QUIET. For the same reason that I know we’ll never survive a zombie outbreak, his class wouldn’t survive a school shooting. Because he CAN’T be quiet. And the more you ask him, the more he’ll talk. And sing. And draw attention to the fact that people are in there. And why should paraprofessionals, who aren’t paid nearly enough for the work they DO in our special needs classrooms, also be expected to figure out how to keep a room full of autistic and otherwise disabled children hunkered down for 2 hours, keeping themselves and their charges safe. 

I’ve been convincing myself that “it won’t happen here.” That our community is somehow immune to this insane, terrifying bullshit that is spreading like a horror movie virus. I know deep down that we’re not. That at any time, our bucolic town could be next. That I could be running to Henry’s school or Steven’s school or even William’s school, blind with panic, desperate to see if my kid somehow survived.

And I feel impotent. Utterly. Because I have no power. I can’t stand against the NRA and the cartoon villain politicians who, time and time and time and time and time again choose their well-lined pockets over actual lives. Who, every single fucking day, offer meaningless thoughts and prayers while cashing checks from the murder weapon makers and then turn their backs while we bury our children. I can’t fight them. My anger and rage and disbelief and terror cannot make a dent compared to soulless monsters who have chosen money over children’s lives.

I no longer give a ripe shit about your 2nd amendment rights. About what you or the NRA think you should be able to buy at your local gun show held at the same county fairgrounds where your community’s children would enjoy the fair’s carnival rides and funnel cakes if they hadn’t been slaughtered by an AR-15 bought there last year. If you, at this late date, cannot support reasonable gun restrictions, detailed background checks, and the idea that NO ONE NEEDS WEAPONS LIKE THIS, then there aren’t enough insulting, offensive swear words for me to throw at you. Yes, mental illness is part of the problem (and don’t get me started on how it then makes all the sense to cut mental health care from any GOP BILL and remove restrictions that prevent the mentally ill from buying guns), but the most mentally ill person can’t slaughter this number of people with a knife. So sit down and stop talking so the rest of us can save our children’s lives.

Because I promise this. If you don’t? We mothers are going to come for you. And there will be a RECKONING.


Self-Betrayal & My #MeToo Perspective

What do you do when you have a story, but it’s not like everyone else’s? When you relate, but differently and in a way that might not be seen as “valid?” When the circumstances of your life have created an unusual narrative inside of you that you don’t feel like you can share, but you have to because it’s causing you emotional turmoil?

If you’re me, you let it fester and rot for a bit and then you blog.


Because, yes, I have at least one story of sexual assault. (Like EVERY OTHER WOMAN, if you believe the posts. And I do.) But I also have this other. This weirdly nebulous, not specific, not anything I can grab onto and hold up to show you that lives inside me. And it’s really angry right now. Really, really furious. Because it wants to be recognized, but it doesn’t know how. Even within the safety and sisterhood of #metoo, it just…..well…ISN’T. It isn’t the same. It isn’t like everybody else. But it HURTS. And I don’t know why.

Okay, let me back up. I’ll give you a little background.

There was no “defining moment” or “traumatic incident” that I can remember. Of any kind. Of course, I have to take into account this very weird and uncomfortable fact that I don’t remember. Much. There are large chunks of my life – everything before middle school, except flashes of events & things I did – where there is just nothing. I can tell you facts – where I lived, how long I lived there, what I was for Halloween (because: pictures), the layout of my house, along with random stuff here and there. But there is no reliable memory of what life was like and what happened day to day from that time. Things clear up a bit in middle school and even more in high school, but there are still gaps. I mean, literally. People I’m still friends with will remind me of something that happened or something I did and I have NOTHING. I even doubt that they’re remembering it correctly because I don’t remember anything about it. But they insist I was there and can tell me what I did. So take all that into account as I try to explain. Because it’s not like I can trace any of this back to “well, this happened and after that I was different.”

I’ve seen this quote posted in the past couple of days that really sparked my subconscious to start messing with me.

“Relenting doesn’t equal consenting.”

“Right on!” I thought. And as time went on, my brain started processing that and my life and how I’ve gone through my experiences with this kind of stuff. Because I’ve been a serial relenter.

Not in any kind of “well, this is happening to me, so I’m going to not fight and just wait for it to be over.” But in a much more insidious, creepy way. See, I cannot remember a time where I didn’t feel this sense of ‘obligation.’ Of ‘owing.’

God, how do I explain this? It’s really difficult.

It’s as if I’ve always felt that my body didn’t belong to me and therefore I didn’t have the right to body autonomy. If someone wanted to touch me or grab me or kiss me or comment about me or have sex with me or whatever. I had no right to say no, really. That I should be glad and flattered that someone would even want to, and therefore, I “owed” it to them. You want 14 year old me to touch you in a back lot when we’re out at night with friends, even though we’re not dating or anything. I guess I have to. You want to be someone who graduated 3 years before me, but I’ve never said 2 words to, come up to me in a bar when I’m dancing and ask me inappropriate questions and tell me to kiss you? Who am I to say no? You want to cover an entire page of my yearbook with the words, “EASY” and “UGLY” and claim it’s just a joke and I shouldn’t be upset? Okay, you’re right. Besides, I probably am.

I have never felt like I have the right to say no. So I relent. If you’ve taken me out and think you should get to park and make out now because we saw a movie together? I will figure out a way through that that doesn’t include the word “no.” I can’t even remember the number of times a guy I knew, but wasn’t involved with in any way, would demand a kiss and I just did it. I am obliged for existing.

Maybe it’s because I always felt so unlovable and unattractive that I just wanted recognition or acknowledgment? That my payment for existing in the world as such a useless shell was to give people what they asked for. I know it isn’t because I enjoyed it. I wasn’t finding any pleasure in any of these “relentings.” I didn’t know any other way to be. I didn’t value myself (still don’t, to a large extent) and therefore didn’t ask for anything in return. And, because I never said no, never resisted, never had enough self-acceptance to realize that I was being used, I can’t blame anyone but myself.

And that HURTS. I feel, in way, like my own pimp. I never protected myself, never demanded more respect or kindness from people. And so they didn’t give it to me.

So how does one deal with this in the wake of people acknowledging and speaking out against sexual harassment & abuse. I mean, it qualifies, but I did it to myself. No wonder my subconscious is so rageful right now. I betrayed MYSELF. And I have no reason why. I wish I could at least point back to something and say, “well, this happened, so it explains why I was like this.” But….nothing. I just began and went through my life with no autonomy and no boundaries and no self-respect. So I’m grieving, I think. I’m hurting. I’m angry. Maybe this is why I eventually gained so much weight. If I can’t trust myself to ward off unwanted advances, then at least I can make sure that there are no more of them. And it’s worked.

However, there is one thing I want to say. Yes, a lot of men took advantage of whatever this is in my wiring for their own benefit. They didn’t know that’s what they were doing, but they did it. But I can’t really blame them, because I never said no. However, I want to raise a glass to the men who DIDN’T. Who were either raised right or had enough sense to never even try to push themselves on someone without the ability to resist. Most of those men also had the barrier of my being drunk to deter them, because they knew enough to not move forward on a drunken girl who couldn’t really consent. And they could have moved in and “gotten some.” But they didn’t. And I thank them for being better to me than I was to myself. I honor you and thank you for caring about me – or even if you were just caring enough about yourself to avoid a questionable situation. It doesn’t matter to me. Because in the end, that’s one less self-hating memory I have to deal with.


You Knew. Do Something.

I’d love to say I was surprised. I wish I was shocked. I want to believe the best in people all the time, sometimes to my own detriment. So when the news about Harvey Weinstein came out, I wish I could say that I never would have suspected. But that would be a lie.

No, I don’t know him. No, I never met him or had any dealings of any kind with him. But I remember the first time I saw his face. It was on an Oscars telecast years ago. Probably in the last 90s or early 2000s. I couldn’t figure out why the cameras kept cutting to this creepy looking, unshaven guy. Like he was important, but he sure didn’t look like he was. I found out later that he was Harvey Weinstein and he was possibly the most important man in Hollywood. And I knew at that moment that this guy was a predator who had a well & often used casting couch in his office and had no problems with trading choice film roles for “something in return.”

But I didn’t know just how disgusting, creepy, duplicitous, foul, and just plain nasty he is. We’ve all heard stories about the Hollywood Casting Couch and how so many powerful men have built actresses’ careers by expecting a little “something” in return. “Do this for me and I’ll put you in my film.” We’ve all heard it both from actresses’ mouths and as tawdry legend over the almost 100 years of Hollywood. There are those who would play along to get ahead and those who wouldn’t and whatever decision that particular person decided to make is THEIR business. But what Harvey played at is a different level of repulsive.

Subterfuge as a way of getting women in a position where they are fearful not just for their careers (which is bad enough), but for their safety. Of being assaulted, manipulated, physically harmed in some way. Of being raped. And, now we know, of having every single person who came in contact with her – from the hotel staff to his assistants to anyone who saw her in his company during the entire evening – believing that she was “Weinsteined.” Lured to a secluded location where she probably willingly gave it up in order to advance her career. BECAUSE EVERYONE KNEW WHAT HE DID. So she can’t even claim that she didn’t do anything, because everyone everywhere knew what he did, how he did it, and what that meant for the girl. So now she knows that everybody is talking about her in terms of “another in a long list of girls Harvey has ‘had’.”

Now, the woodwork is vibrating with the movement of different celebrities coming out of it – claiming they, too, were assaulted, claiming they had no idea and how horrifying and if they’d known, they’d have done thus & so. Before I say what I’m going to say, I’ll preface it with this: I don’t know anyone in Hollywood. I know no one in the system and certainly have no connections or knowledge of famous people and what they have or haven’t done.

But I honestly don’t believe for a second that so many of these recognizable celebrities didn’t know. Not for a second. I think that every single one of them either knew, had heard about it, had heard rumors or jokes about it, or knew someone who had gone through it. Something like that does NOT become a joke at the Oscars without everyone knowing. This many celebrities coming out and saying that it either happened to them or it almost happened to them did not go unnoticed by their friends & acquaintances. You don’t wear Marchesa to that many award shows without being under some obligation to her husband. YOU KNEW. YOU SUSPECTED. YOU HEARD THE RUMORS. And you said nothing.

And this is what makes me sick. So many very powerful, very famous female celebrities knew about this. And they did nothing to stop him. They said nothing to bring attention to it. They let their SISTERS drown. I’m sure there was the occasional warning or pointed conversation about “maybe you shouldn’t go meet him in his room because that might end badly……”, but none of them came forward and demanded a spotlight be shone on it. So woman after woman after woman, ad nauseum, suffered.

I don’t expect the women who experienced it – as they were experiencing it – to say anything. They were young and raw and inexperienced and hoping for a career boost. They weren’t expecting a naked old fat dude to prance out of his bedroom and demand a massage. They weren’t expecting to be broadsided like that. They weren’t expecting to be raped. So for them to speak up after the fact….well, we all know how well that goes for the woman. (See Affleck, CaseyAllen, WoodyCosby, Bill, Polanski, Roman, Schwarzenegger, Arnold)

And the men. :sigh: The Hollywood men who DEFINITELY, ABSOLUTELY KNEW. LIKE HIS BROTHER, BOB. The Brad Pitts, the George Clooneys, the Denzel Washingtons, the Matt Damons, the Tom Cruises, the Will Smiths, those men in the top tier most powerful positions as actors. They. Knew. And they did nothing – except tell Harvey to keep his mitts off their women. Where were they for their sisters in the movie arts? They couldn’t defend themselves against the most powerful man in Hollywood, but none of you did anything to help them. And, honestly, do you think that if George Clooney, Brad Pitt, et al, came forward to tell what Harvey was doing that THEY WOULDN’T BE BELIEVED?? Christ, all y’all had to say was that he was doing these horrible things and you weren’t going to stand for it and everyone would have believed you. But you didn’t. You wouldn’t have lost your careers – you’re Brad Pitt & George Clooney. Step up.

So, I’m disgusted. I’m disgusted by the fake “OMG, I had no idea, this is awful” crap. I’m disgusted by people not being willing to step up and use their celebrity privilege to protect each other. I’m disgusted by the pervasive, toxic masculinity that convinces itself and those around it that this behavior is acceptable. I’m SO disgusted by the response of so many men & women of “why did they wait so long to say something.” (And, no, I’m not even going to dignify that ignorant bullshit with a response) And I’m beyond disgusted by the men who respond to this and shit like it with their caveman mentality of “shut up, you bitch, you deserve that because you’re a woman.” I think the correlation between the rise of that ignorant, misogynistic assmunchery and the troglodyte running our country is impenetrable.

Something else that grabbed me, of course, is the number of women coming forward with their own stories of assault, harassment, unwanted attention, and other encounters like this. This is something men don’t and can’t understand. And since they can’t understand it, often they insist it doesn’t exist. But it does. It doesn’t matter if you’re pretty or hot or sexy or dressed in a white doctor’s coat or a construction hat or a garbage collector’s jumpsuit. It happens to everyone.

It’s amazing what thinking about this does to me. See, I honestly cannot recall a single incident where I was harassed or assaulted either in the workplace or just in general. There were incidents in college at parties or while drinking, but not the kind of thing I’m hearing other women talk about – an eye doctor pretends to drop a contact down her blouse and has to “get it,” while copping a feel at the same time. Getting your ass smacked at work. Having creepy or unsettling comments made at you by professionals or others in the workplace. That kind of thing. I honestly cannot think of a single incident. But you want to know what’s truly fucked up about that? My first thought wasn’t, “Well, good! I’m glad I was surrounded by men who weren’t the kind to do that kind of thing.” No. My first thought?

“What was wrong with me that no one ever did that?”

You see, THIS SHIT is such an ingrained part of our world that I assumed that since it hadn’t happened to me, I’M THE ONE WHO’S LACKING. That I should have had it happen to me, since it happens to almost every woman everywhere. I must be too ugly even to be harassed. I didn’t go to a positive place, but a self-deprecating one. We women have come to believe that it SHOULD and WILL happen to us. That having it NOT happen to us is so far from the norm, it’s grossly abnormal. I mean, I know why we women have accepted it for so long. (And if you don’t, scroll up and see my references above) It can be unbelievably daunting to step out and speak up against the treatment we learn to accept as the price we pay for having a vagina – or even looking like we might. But why do the men in the world allow it? Why don’t they speak out? Why don’t powerful men and powerful women call it out when they see it more, bringing it to the spotlight and MAKING everyone look at it. Yes, it’s ugly and greasy and covered in festering sores – but hiding it from view isn’t going to change a damn thing. Telling women to “make sure you take a man with you when to go to that meeting” might protect her for that moment, but it doesn’t change anything and it puts the impetus of what happens on HER, not the perp.

If you’re a man reading this, do me a favor. Talk to the women in your life – your mother, your sister, your wife or girlfriend, your grandmother. Ask them about this and if it’s ever happened to them. THEN LISTEN. Don’t talk at them or over them. LISTEN TO THEIR STORY. Very often, older women will shrug it off as what they had to endure at that time. Doesn’t mean it didn’t affect them. I think you’ll be very surprised by the number of women in your life who have THIS in their table of contents.

And if you have sons. TEACH. My God, teach them. Teach them that women are not possessions to be acquired, nor property to be taken. Teach them that no matter how powerful they are, they have the responsibility to act like a human being. That no one – EVER – owes them access to their body. And that asking for it in return for a favor is DISGUSTING. Teach them to watch and listen for this kind of shit happening around them. Teach them to risk themselves to step in to protect another person from something like this. Teach them to LISTEN to what other people’s experiences are and to accept that, even though it isn’t THEIR experience, it’s still valid. And most of all, teach them that kindness, self-control, and respect for others are of the utmost importance. Please. We need far more men like that in the world.