In light of the sexual harassment verdict in the Taylor Swift case, and the hordes of negative comments, I feel nearly obligated to shout a little truth to the clueless men who have been gulping down some bitter hater-aid. I feel pretty confident that these men simply don’t understand the frequent objectification that women face their entire lives.
As a woman working her way up the ladder into a position of authority in the entertainment industry, I understood early on that it finding entry-level positions in a male-dominated industry wasn’t that hard. I was cute and do the scarcity of females, I would often garner a little bit more attention than I deserved. Back then, I didn’t mind the casual flirtations that would engulf my workplace like a hurricane swallowing a tugboat. It’s an industry that is known as a little loose in terms of morality and regulation; a hotbed of behind-the-scenes showmances and a bounty of behaviors that would get you sacked in the rest of the corporate world. As a single woman who prefered a more relaxed work environment, this was perfectly fine for me. But just because it was acceptable to me, doesn’t me it is FOR EVERYONE.
I feel like it is important to share that because, while I have opted to pivot my life to a place outside the hijinks of set life, the male I am about to mention and will refer to as Alan, is still fully immersed. A few days ago, Ashley Judd did a live post on Facebook, she was at the airport and frazzled by an incident she had just experienced with a TSA officer. This “officer” initially made a comment about how nice she looked in her dress in a way that sent her creep-o-meter straight into high alert. She observed this man overseeing several passengers pass through the security checkpoint, and noticed them march through without incident or any physical contact. When it was Ashley’s turn, the man called her “sweetheart” and touched her without warning. When she got to the other side, she asked for a supervisor to report the incident and then decided to share this incident on her FB feed. “So what, get over yourself” someone posted as a mix of red face and heart reactions battled the across the screen. Trolling not being uncommon, I was about to move on, when that very moment Facebook let me know one of my “friends,” Alan had posted a comment. “Shut up, Sweetheart.” it read.
Ugh. Really? I thought to myself. I worked with Alan for over a year, and I held this great dude in high regard for coming to my rescue when I cut the tip of my finger off on a shoot in Barcelona. Why was this SoCal surfer dude hating on Ashley Judd? I chalked it up it to a mix of all the negative online-rhetoric overwhelming social media that stirs up this “bandwagon mentality” and the fact that this dude probably has no idea what it’s like to have someone “help themselves to your body.”
From a light touch on my hips to get me to “slide over,” to “helping me get something off my hair/face/clothing,” men were frequently helping themselves to me. In most cases, there was a level of comfort where these acts were indeed no big deal, but there were also times when that was certainly not the case.
The first time I can remember being assaulted was when I was 20 years old. I had met up with a few friends in NYC and we decided to go to a club. I spent most of my time dancing the night away with a male friend, J.K., whom I had kissed a few time in college. More than just a little awkward, I though it was super forward when J.K. slipped his hand up my skirt and panties and grabbed a fist-full of booty. It was hours later back at our friend’s apartment, I sat nursing my throbbing feet wondering why J.K. would grab my ass but not even kiss me once the whole night. After cursing the gods for making high heels fashionable, I decided to ask the question out loud.
“What? I didn’t grab your ass!” J.K. said. Being underage, and therefore completely sober I stood there shocked. “Are you sure?”
There it was, a perfect stranger had groped my bare ass in a club because he could. J.K., being a few years older was far more pissed than me. I was able to brush this off and move on with little effect, but that doesn’t me that others have to. Incidents like this would pop in and out of my life, becoming woven into the fabric of my life experiences. I wish I had a little less of a grin-and-bare-it attitude throughout my life, because maybe when the Taylor Swift’s and Ashley Judd’s of the world would speak out, there wouldn’t be a commonplace expectation for them to just shut up and accept it. To those ladies, I would like to thank you for setting boundaries and sharing your stories. You are making it a little easier for women who have yet to walk this earth.