With “Harvey-Gate” taking precedence over any bizarre political situation we have in Washington, DC at the moment, actress Alyssa Milano decided (wisely) to try to take the focus off Predator Weinstein and launched a movement to encourage those who had survived a sexual assault to come forward> She said in a tweet “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Within minutes, 61,000 people had shared the tweet with #MeToo. It’s now in the millions.
In our most current issue of OffBeat, we published Elsa Hahne’s long-overdue voice of musicians, and how they feel about their audiences’ behavior (“Here’s Looking at You, Dick”). We got a multitude of letters and comments from this story, with many from women, thanking us for the story. While all musicians have to deal with jerky audiences, it seems a fairly common practice for woman musicians and performers to have to endure unwarranted sexual advances. Yuck.
Not surprisingly, there were female musicians who shared stories of nasty harassment (some of which we had to edit for public consumption). And also not surprisingly, almost every single woman I know (I also know men) has stories of at least one, usually more, incidences where they felt intimidated, molested, groped, or even worse–yours truly included.
I think that you get so used to it happening that you might tend to brush it off. That’s the way many women were raised. You gave the predator a pass for whatever reason, mostly because no one seemed to care, particularly the male gender. It’s just what men “do.” Or the predator was usually in a position of power and you were not.
In the case of Weinstein, you had young vulnerable, beautiful and ambitious women who thought that meeting with the powerful producer would be good for their careers. Yeah, right. Turns out, that whichever way you turn, you’re screwed—literally or figuratively.
If you don’t believe that sexually predatory behavior has an impact on the female psyche, you are dead wrong: When I heard about the Milano tweet, and the #MeToo, the incidences in my own life, done and buried in my brain many years ago, popped back into my mind, all at once, unbidden, and gave me a severe case of the creeps and a feeling of disgust, and anger at the perpetrator, and at myself—for not calling the jerks on their actions.
The perps don’t even think about their actions; acceptance of this behavior (for whatever reason) has been ingrained in our culture, even in women, and particularly in the male brain. But it’s just not okay. (Are you listening, President Trump?)
I applaud Ms. Milano for having the great idea to bring this issue into the open, to show how messed up this behavior really is on the part of men, and for women as well, for not standing up for themselves. I guess in some ways I should thank old Harve for perhaps creating a movement that will finally create respect for victims of this behavior, and empower victims to fight back.