Being GenX, I didn’t think I’d see this monumental change in my lifetime: so many brave women standing up and saying #MeToo in our own version of ‘I’m Spartacus!’
Like a French revolutionary, I’m in the front row at the guillotine, gleefully tucking into cake as each abusive male’s head metaphorically rolls from his ignorant, entitled shoulders and lands in the dirt as a mugshot.
Wienerstein (sic) and the Desecration of the Hotel Bathrobe
It’s a shame that the hotel bathrobe has been dragged into such disrepute but it’s glorious that this terry-toweling-corporate attire / disguise has been truly opened up for all to see the corpulent, corrupt brute beneath. Will HW be the latest poster child in the above gallery of rogues if/when his mug shot is released?
Of course, Wienerstein has had to make some kind of contrite platitudes so he can try and differentiate himself from other Baby Boomer Males (BBMs) who cannot or will not see the immorality and criminality of their repetitive offences against humanity. Ironically, it’s no Oscar-winning performance and reeks of a man who is saying what he has to say to mitigate his perpetration. But the problem of belief in his entitlement is ingrained. The Rolf Harris’ of the world ultimately go down into their graves bleating innocence and decrying their victims – like Max Cady in Cape Fear from1’40” into this clip:
It Started Off Feeling… A Bit Off
A few times a week I’d go to the shops with my dog and pick up things for mum. One day, the butcher asked me how old I was. I said 8. He did something with his hand on the front of his apron and his face went ‘strange’ as he said, ‘I can’t wait til you’re 18.’ I didn’t know why at the time. It felt like a criticism. He offered to give me a free chop for my dog. So I went around the back and he told me to send the dog home with the chop but I shook my head. We sat out the back, me watching the dog eat the chop and him watching me watching the dog. Another customer came into the shop so he had to go. I ran away. It wasn’t the last time he offered a free chop out back. It was the last time my dog got one. Since then, escaping men felt instinctively natural.
When I did turn 18, I was at university and a professor scoffed at my diligence, suggesting there was an easier way to get good marks. I felt weird in his office and declined going for a drink off campus. I was getting As for assignments anyway and I loved studying so I wasn’t a good target for the easy route. When he intimated my grades were falling, I talked to other women in his classes and they exchanged that knowing look, calling him ‘Professor Lay-for-an-A’. Their advice was to warn other women by putting up graffiti in every toilet cubicle on campus. It was 1982 and we had little other recourse.
By age 21, I was lucky enough to meet a benevolent BBM who unofficially mentored me. I’m paraphrasing from memory but this was the gist of something he said:
‘You’re in for a rough time of it, professionally. Men will try and get to you by showing interest in your projects some will be genuinely interested because your projects will advance their own agendas but some will exploit your professional passion and talent by pretending interest in what interests you. You gotta learn to tell the ploys and the plays from the genuine people who want to pursue mutual professional benefits.’
It turned out to be a prophecy.
Instead of authentically considering work on the desk there were those angling for how to get my arse on the desk. I was offered a seat on the casting couch enough times to develop avoidance tactics and like the stories from women coming forward about Wienerstein’s (sic) assaults – I manoeuvred to extricate myself without anyone ‘losing face’. It was a tedious process I resented because what I really wanted to do was punch them in the face.
Even though desirable pathways were closed off because I didn’t play ball[s] with an entitled BBM in a power position, I still constructed a career on my own terms – just with some limitations, restrictions and closed doors to factor into the strategy. The good thing is, I’ve been a writer since I was 3 years old and love it so writing anything appealed to me. As doors were closed because of my refusal to trade sex for advancement, I shook off the ugliness of being a GenXer dealing with BBMs and found other pathways and other doors. It still annoys me that I had to do that but I’m not interested in being a victim or playing the victim card now. By sticking to my position, sacrifices in terms of professional strategy had to be made. The 80s and 90s workplace still had strong echoes of that awful marriage inequality standard of ‘put up and shut up’. And we all saw what happened to women publicly, personally, and professionally who stood up against the patriarchy and not just in the latter half of the 20th century, but throughout history. An effective tool of suppression and oppression is making it difficult to get justice and it enforced an embedded warning that fighting for basic human rights is not worth the trouble. Fortunately, the times they are a-changin’.
Just like that Cinderella archetype, Melania Trump, swatting away the fly’s hand of her Baby Boomer husband, Prince Charmless Donald, I’ve had my share of swatting to do. Like dealing with a persistent mozzie – annoying, irritating, discomforting, disappointing, exhausting – I became adept at managing unwanted personal attention in the professional arena by swatting away an offensive hand with a lame ‘oh, you…’ while changing the subject or moving away when really, what I wanted to do again was give the offender an uppercut. I hated the process.
Conversely, Trump must be aware Melania holds quite a bit of power over his presidency. If only she’d exert it and show him for what he is. It’s likely she’s entered into some kind of NDA with her husband. There’s nothing like legally enforced obedience as a display of spousal ‘devotion’ to assert your male ’power’ at the White House, is there Mr Drumpf?
A desire to live a life beyond poverty is a driving force behind the enduring Cinderella Complex. Sleeping between silk sheets feels nice but rolling over into a fat turd must take some of the sheen off. Changing the sheets doesn’t solve the problem. Removing the turd does.
Married Ones are the Worst
I am truly repulsed by and mocking of the gutless married males. If you can’t keep marriage vows of monogamy or ‘forever’ – don’t make them in the first place. Grow up. Make or change vows that reflect what you are capable of offering another person. Live an authentic life with authentic relationships that show actual mutual respect instead of faking it.
Memo to the Married Male Abuser in the Workplace
You may not believe in ghosts but your past will come back to haunt you. I have high hopes.
I hope your wife divorces you, your children despise you and you end up in a prison hearing the din of doors slamming shut – just as you closed them to talented hopefuls, destroying dreams and self-esteem by preying on them. My compassion and sense of social justice are at odds here. I’d normally feel benevolence towards feeble old men who lose everything and are likely to die in jail. But as I tuck into the cake those married men thought they could have-and-eat-too and the guillotine falls, taking another offensive creep out of society, I’m loving the schadenfreude-flavoured icing and thinking ‘what a beautiful day’.
Liberty, Equality, Sorority
I used to believe in the elegance of ‘a discreet woman has neither eyes nor ears’ but in reality, it’s a tool of oppression – the conspiracy of silence that allows criminally inclined males to get away with felonious behaviour of which the destruction of self-esteem and dreams is a mere portion of the damage done.
The Future is Good
The good news is: this pestilence is dying out – going the way of the Dodo. The BBMs are getting old and falling off the perch. I’d like to think their archaic value system would die with them but they bred and had sons.
The Future is Bad
I’s not all good news. Imagine what Millennial and GenY males will be like in key positions of power after being raised on internet porn and how that impacts the way they view other human beings.
One young man confided in me that he secretly viewed 4 hours of porn a day from age 11 to 17 then had his first encounter with a flesh-and-blood female only to be afflicted with ED. He took himself off for secret counselling and learned how thousands of hours of porn had re-wired his brain. It took 3 years to orgasm with a real woman in a ‘normalized’ hetero fashion. The last time we spoke, he said he continues to watch porn most days and is still fixated on a specific hair colour girlfriends must have and how they must behave sexually in order for him to perform. And don’t get me started on the awful constrained prison of ‘performed performance’ young women feel pressured to learn and execute in order to gain approval and acceptance as a lover. I know this does not apply to everyone but the stats on porn consumption suggest his case would not be an isolated one.
Witnessing Great Change
I feel sorry for the future and grateful for the present. To think something I longed for and did not believe could happen, is happening in my lifetime, is profound – that a groundswell of change I wished for as a young professional might make life different now for young, talented people looking up to a professional hierarchy for guidance and a helping hand – not a pair of wandering hands and threats of destroying dreams.
This is a great time in history to see another wall dismantled – that of rigorously enforced and socially sanctioned gender-based oppression.
The Guardian piece Society for Dismantling Patriarchy echoes the Valerie Solanas tome I read at uni in the early 80s and never forgot, the SCUM Manifesto. It poses a very clear case of how and why the wicked problems of the world exist and she establishes a clear line of responsibility.
A Century of another Gender in Power
It’d be great to have 3 generations or a century of women in 90% of power positions across all industries, worldwide, just to see how we could do things better.
One century – that’s all I want – to implement some real changes. One century is nothing compared to the thousands of years men have dominated most power positions. Of course there will be a sector of males who see equality with the rest of us as oppression of them. It’s not about taking away privilege – it’s about growing up from being tantrumic toddlers and learning to share your ‘toys’ IE the power base. It’s learning about bad attitudes and behaviour by locating your moral compass and living according to a charter of human rights.
What I would give to see a century of female occupation… to give another gender a go at affecting global change, maybe even peace.
But let’s stay in the present. We’re in a Spartacus moment for all male and female victims of these men and the system of abuse they uphold and indulge. May the voice of the wronged echo into the future and affect real change starting now, not just warlock-hunts. Resist the urge to demonize those who have not, may not or cannot speak up about their own personal cases of abuse. Not all of us get freed from a prison as fierce as this on the same day. Be kind and respectful to one another. There’s still a long way to go. Don’t break ranks by judging others and creating rifts when a united front is just beginning. Support people in taking the time they need to join the cause.
I feel a deeply gratifying mixed bag of emotion. It’s a time to laugh, a time to cry with relief and a time to find constructive ways of managing the pent-up rage of putting up and shutting up for so long.
Instead of cloaked grim reapers carrying scythes at Halloween this year, we’ll see portly creeps in bathrobes carrying little wieners going door to door demanding a shower, a massage and a female audience to watch. [shudder]
Advice to Young Hopefuls
Do tell people you trust what happens to you when it happens.
Do go to the hospital for tests and physical evidence collection.
Do formalize events by seeing a counsellor and logging the dates and times of sessions as well as those of the offense or offenses.
Do use Legal Aid or have a first ‘free’ consultation with a lawyer so you have documented proof of seeking help and advice at the time of an offense.
Do go to a police station and ask for guidance for putting an offense on the record. I’ve done this more than once. It doesn’t fix the problem but it does build a history of admissible evidence should a court case arise.
Do record potentially suspect situations on your mobile phone then delete later if there’s no cause to keep it.
Do fight back. There’s no need to play nice with these criminals. ‘Playing nice’ is an expectation imposed upon women to keep them compliant. Attack the offending groin as though the rage of millions of exploited people inflame and empower every cell of your DNA because in that moment, they do. Your legal defense is that he was making a real and apparent threat with what appeared to be a gun in his pocket.
And one from my personal experience –
Don’t accept a lift home from a male higher up the work ladder. The rain will feel way better than his aggressive hands and give you a better memory of a dark and stormy night.
Listen to Helen Mirren
At 72, her wise words inform young, talented people today: she wishes she had told more people to fuck off.
I know how she feels.
FOLLOW UP Oct 2018:
A recent article caught my attention: ‘It was like tending to a disgusting baby’: life as a Harvey Weinstein employee.