The #metoo movement has been playing on my mind all week, but it’s been sidelined by the fur baby dramas … until now.
It’s been amazing to see how many women have joined Alyssa Milano’s viral call to arms to say they’ve been victims of sexual harassment.
I don’t have a #metoo story to tell. While that’s great – lucky me – it also feels a bit weird.
I have a very, very bad memory, so I’m wondering if I’ve forgotten being sexually harrassed. I don’t think I have.
Why haven’t I been sexually harrassed, when the general view is that it’s endemic?
Actress Mayim Bialik issued an apology on social media yesterday for the New York Times op-ed she wrote last week about being a “nontraditional looking” actress in Hollywood.
In it she wrote: “As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms. Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an impossible standard of beauty have the “luxury” of being overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we can make them money.
“I am entirely aware that these types of choices might feel oppressive to many young feminists. Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to flirt however they want with whomever they want. Why are we the ones who have to police our behavior?
“In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect. Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in.
I believe that we can change our culture, but it won’t be something that happens overnight. We live in a society that has treated women as disposable playmates for far longer than Mr. Weinstein has been meeting ingénues in luxury hotel rooms.
People got very upset at Mayim. Very, very upset.
Her apology on Twitter said: “Let me say clearly and explicitly that I am very sorry. What you wear and how you behave does not provide any protection from assault, nor does the way you dress or act in any way make you responsible for being assaulted; you are never responsible for being assaulted. I applaud the bravery of the women who have come forward. I support these women as we seek out and demand accountability from the only ones responsible for assault and rape. I am motivated and driven to work hard to empower women. I am truly sorry for causing so much pain, and I hope you can all forgive me.”
Before Mayim got herself into so much hot water, I wondered whether I hadn’t been subjected to sexual harassment because I was “nontraditional looking”. But lots of Mayim’s critics have pointed out that’s got nothing to do with it.
So I have no idea how I got to almost 50 without it happening.
I would like to think it’s because there are many, many men out there who don’t abuse their power that way.
I feel very fortunate to have escaped the ones who do.
It’s not over until the fat lady sings, so there might still be moments when my gender could be an issue. But it will have to jostle with my age and my outspoken mouth for that honour. Age definitely seems to be a far bigger problem these days.
There is, I suppose, still a vague chance I will be sexually harassed. But I’ve become pretty invisible.
I was telling friends the other night about an incident on my recent holiday. I walked past a group of youths in my swimming costume and braced myself for them to say something rude and laugh together at my ageing white thighs. But they didn’t even notice me – I have ceased to register in their eyes. It was both confronting and freeing at the same time.
The fact that it was both those things must mean I have recoiled from the uglier side of male behaviour at some point, if not in the work sense.
Speaking of interesting, did you read the confession by scriptwriter Scott Rosenberg about his involvement in the Weinstein scandal? It moved me to tears.
And do you know how I am sure this is true?
Because I was there.
And I saw you.
And I talked about it with you.
You, the big producers; you, the big directors; you, the big agents; you, the big financiers.
And you, the big rival studio chiefs; you, the big actors; you, the big actresses; you, the big models.
You, the big journalists; you, the big screenwriters; you, the big rock stars; you, the big restaurateurs; you, the big politicians.
I saw you.
All of you.
God help me, I was there with you.
Awful, awful, shockingly honest stuff.
What a strange new world we’re navigating! It’s come so far, but it’s still so freaking primitive. We know too much, but have learned too little.
Song of the day: Icehouse “Hey little girl”