I don’t often write posts that are timely and topical. Ie, ones that reference what’s happening in Hollywood or on the news.
I usually ax any ideas to do with it because more often than not what’s coming out of the news elicits an extremely heated response from me, of which I’m not keen on sharing here. Because negativity is toxic.
I often fear the backlash speaking my mind about heated topics might bring about too. Lord knows there are many people out there who make it their job to attack beliefs opposite to that of their own. And I have to be in the right head space to be able to handle that kind of stuff.
But sometimes things come up on shows like entertainment tonight (which I watch occasionally – don’t doubt the power of distracting yourself from the constant drive to evolve) that have me going, “whoa – I need to write something on that, even though fear doesn’t want me to.”
Hearing the harrowing stories of sexual assault in Hollywood is one of those things.
It started with me feeling incredibly emotional about it all. Realizing these women had been violated without any validation just gutted me. Not to mention the trauma of being silenced by a predator for fear of losing their careers, and having to see that man in the spotlight, incessantly reminding them of what had been done to them.
And sure they get validated for other things, like their looks and acting. But that’s not real.
Real validation is when someone looks you in the eyes and says, “I’m so sorry that person hurt you. I am here for you. I care about you.”
Glam teams, press junkets, million dollar homes and thousand dollar red-soled heels don’t provide that kind of validation.
These women are worthy of empathy, compassion, and support. And even though Hollywood feels like a world away, and I don’t know what it is to go through what they went through, or live the life they do, I feel their pain and share in their suffering.
Which is why I’ve shed quite a few tears thinking of these women over the past couple weeks. I’ve thought of Rose, and Reese, and Jennifer. And I’ve taken the time to read the admissions of the lesser named actresses – stories of which hold no less value than that of their admittedly more famous counterparts.
These women were taught that good little girls don’t speak out. That to be nice is to be quiet. That in order to be good, you must keep your mouth shut – just like the rest of us were.
I still catch myself shaming myself for speaking, or sharing an opinion. I often feel heavy amounts of guilty for doing so.
I learned that somewhere, just as every other woman out there has. And I need to unlearn it.
I’ve witnessed so many women over the years, including myself, scared to speak out for fear of being labeled “Shit disturbers” or not being liked or approved of.
And it’s all gotta come to a close.
I’m so grateful for the courageous Rose McGowan, and countless other public figures who inspired so many women to come forward.
Sharing your story is one of the most powerful things you can do.
Because when you speak, you inspire others to speak, creating a dialogue that can help heal not only yourself but other women as well.
In light of that truth, here’s my story:
A couple of years ago, when I was in the thick of my own healing, I recalled a memory from my childhood. I was 15 and on the ferry, heading to visit a friend in the city, when a very large man came up behind me in the bus ticket line-up.
I remember sensing the predatory nature of his stance and his breathing – there was lot’s of room in the line, and there was no need for him to stand that close. My suspicions were confirmed as he whispered in my ear, through staggered and labored breathing: “Don’t worry little girl. It’s OK. Just stand right there.”
I knew something was very wrong about this scenario. Yet I froze.
I didn’t feel it was OK to speak.
Two years ago when I remembered this moment, I felt a huge wave of rage come over me. I was so angry about the fact that I didn’t feel it was OK to stand up for myself. That I didn’t feel I deserved to tell someone to back off.
Why didn’t I yell out, “back off you fucking pedophile!” Why didn’t I say anything, or at the very least, leave the scene? What was wrong with me?!
I’m not mad anymore. I’m not even mad at the severely damaged man who eagerly sexualized a 15-year-old who was waiting for a bus ticket. I’m just sad because I didn’t know the full story.
The full story is, had I valued myself, and been taught that it’s OK to stand up for myself, I’d have said something. And then maybe that potentially dangerous person would have gotten called out and shamed for his disturbing behavior, and been less likely to try it again. Because I know in my heart he has.
I won’t take on the blame. I was a young girl lacking many lessons, some of which would take over 20 years to learn. And today, I have too much self-taught love for myself to carry any shame about that scene.
But I know from reliving that experience that we have to teach each other it’s OK to speak out. And we have to support the hell out of each other, even when we don’t understand each other’s pain.
We don’t have to birth children to teach the women of the future what it is to value themselves. We can do that by speaking out.
So tell your story. Hollywood isn’t the only place this happens. It happens every single day. And we all have to get more comfortable talking about it.
It’s so important that we admit to the times we’ve been violated or assaulted. Because when we do we teach other women that being female doesn’t mean silencing yourself when you’re suffering.