When actress Alyssa Milano tweeted the suggestion, ''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." It ignited a firestorm.
I’m not big on jumping on bandwagons, but sometimes a beat is too important to ignore, even if you do like marching to your own drum.
For me, it wasn’t just that Harvey Weinstein was a predatory pig who abused his power by preying on women, it was that he had been exposed while I was still reeling from the shock that a seemingly similar man with a long history of disrespecting women, who bragged about using his celebrity status to grab women by their genitals, had been elected president.
At least Weinstein was fired.
I never considered myself a pretty girl. I was a fat kid. In the '70s, clothing stores called us “husky,” which was supposed to sound better.
Puberty hit me like a Mack truck. Overnight I was 12 with C-cups. I tried to hide them with layers of clothes and crawled into a cocoon for two years.
By the time I walked into high school, I had traded the extra weight for badassery. I stopped trying to hide my breasts and embraced punk rock. I still wasn’t pretty, but I seemed to be something more powerful: sexy.
I learned quickly that being alone with boys (or men) would almost certainly lead to trouble, almost always the kind I didn’t want.
My mother told me to be careful, but that I could trust any man wearing a yarmulke or a police uniform. Sorry, Mom, but both have tried to sexually abuse me.
I came out as gay when I was 18. But that was not the end of men harassing me. Walking down the street holding my girlfriend’s hand in the '80s was a fast path to jeering, taunting and even grabbing by men who either thought we were a turn on or were angry that we weren’t interested in them.
I learned to walk tough. “Like a truck driver,” I have been told. I started lifting weights and bought pepper spray. I stopped walking by construction sites.
When I decided to become a chef in the '80s, women were anything but welcome in professional kitchens. It was an irony I never got over. Men wanted their wives and mothers to cook but didn’t want them to get paid for it.
There were a few class-action lawsuits floating around when I applied for cooking jobs in catering, so the male chefs were afraid to turn me down. Instead they would try to harass me into quitting. My ass was slapped and grabbed; I was called a lot of things other than my name. But I was blessed with two weapons: a filthy mouth and a killer sense of humor.
I cursed my way out of a lot of tense situations. Every-time a male co-worker offered to introduce me to his penis, I would describe in minute detail what a menstrual cycle or a yeast infection was like. Nothing defuses sexual tension faster than a good tampon story.
I’m 53 years old now. I can walk by any construction site I want and not hear a peep. The only men who hit on me are over 80. Seriously, what is wrong with those numbers: 53 and 83?! Come on!
But after years of feeling like every day was a military operation to avoid being raped, I realize the damage has already been done. It was sleeping inside of me.
Harvey Weinstein woke it up.
Alyssa Milano gave me the way to shout it out.