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My Friend Harvey

23 Oct

Lets talk about my friend Harvey.

Harvey is in his early 30s. He’s working, seemingly never on anything in particular. It’s not like he has the power to hire and fire. He owns nothing and owes no one.

But one day he might. He wants to be someone in our industry one day.

And you and your friends have seen the way he touches women in bars. The way he hugs women at work. And no one knows quite what to say. They always seem to be making eye contact with you when he does, their eyes asking if this is ok.

So what do you say to him now, when it isn’t exactly a problem… yet. How and who do you approach or warn? You don’t like his behavior but do you take it upon yourself to point it out to him? And how do you sell it to him?

“I don’t want you to get into trouble when someone misunderstands you.”

“Why are you being that way with her?”

“Did you notice how she was pulling away from you?”

What can you do and when?

The James Deen Rape Allegations

2 Dec

So this happened apparently.

Which hurts. No matter how much it hurts though, one has to side with anyone who is brave enough to come forward about being a victim.

Whether it’s Ke$ha (even people who choose weird stage names deserve to have their bodies respected) who is facing a potentially career-ending decision and is being incredibly brave anyway.

Or Cosby’s victims who have had their reputations dragged through the mud by people who conflate the character the man plays with the actor himself.

Or friends who have their own reasons to fear retribution, slander and other untold consequences.

But sometimes it’s difficult.

Because we think we know something about the accused. Because the allegations go against our preconceived notions of what that person is like. A friend, a star we’ve seen interviewed, someone we thought spoke our language. And how disappointing is it to be wrong, to be challenged in our belief in goodness?

And yet “James Deen held me down and f—ed me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I can’t just nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.”

I used the safeword we agreed on and he ignored it. What more should ever need to be said?

I’ve broken up with people for more innocuous forms of treachery.

But it does break my heart. To see someone I trusted fall from grace.

I don’t believe that the pedestal was too tall. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for, a kinky, beautiful Jew who cares about pleasure and respects you at the same time.

I guess we’ll all just have to keep searching for him, and hope that some good and healing can come from this. Perhaps it’ll be the rest of the world learning how to take sexual abuse allegations seriously and swiftly.

My heart bleeds for the people who have been assaulted, whether that be by someone who violated a scenario based on trust, or violated a scenario based on trust, or violated a scenario based on trust.

But we need to remember,

I can regret holding Deen up as a paragon of what a sex partner should be, but I won’t regret my hope that he could have been.

No Thanks, That Doesn’t Work For Me

4 Nov

I know a man who has a reputation for anger. 

Really? Him?

Yeah. When he goes off he goes off.

I don’t see him often. It’s not usually my problem, I keep out of it. Apparently he’s often buying apology baked-goods though.

The other day he had trouble with a piece of technology and asked for my help. You’re young, aren’t you an expert on this? And when none of my suggestions helped he cursed, loudly, suddenly, and directly in my ear.

I vocalized in shock, nearly spilling my tea, and gave him a look. This is not acceptable behavior in my presence.

Moments later he was ashamed, apologizing for startling me like that, and stalked off to torment someone else. Someone who would let him.

You can decide how you’re treated. If you decide that something is unacceptable and you stick to it then the people around you will notice. Expect a higher level of respect and you’ll either foster that behavior in those around you or lose the people who aren’t willing to give it to you.

Tonight I got dinner with a family member who’s favorite topic is “Oh, I couldn’t possibly eat all that, you’ll have to help me.” If I order dessert it’s, “You should order two! But don’t ask for a spoon for me.” It isn’t about me, it’s about her. And it makes me crazy. And tonight as always she tried to foist her food on me. After years of “Fine, just put a little on my plate,” and “I don’t really love eggplant,” tonight I just looked her in the eye and calmly said “No.” Oh. “I ordered exactly what I wanted and I don’t want anything else, but thank you for the offer.” And for once in her life she dropped it.

So ask for what you want. Say no to things you don’t. You only live once, right? Don’t let anyone make you eat eggplant. Or worse, calamari.

What If We Treated All Consent Like Society Treats Sexual Consent?

13 Jul

Some really wonderful Everyday Feminism

Wall, Body, Foot

29 Jun

I keep forgetting to write about this experience I had last week. I keep forgetting that it happened. I keep forgetting about this moment.

I met a guy, I brought him home. This wasn’t the first time I had been with this guy. He’s a sweet guy, nice hair, big nose, remembered facts I had told him the last time we met. Jewish to boot!

And a bit on the rough side. And rougher and rougher as he starts to lose himself.

Which wasn’t doing it for me that night. And which was reaching my brain as pain instead of pleasure.

“That hurts, no harder than that.”

“Ok, I’m sorry.”

And he backed off.

Until he was nearing the finish line and starting losing himself again.

But, no, this is not an excuse I’m going to make for him.

I bucked him off and kicked him into my wall. Literally, pinned him to the wall with my foot.

“Did I hurt you?”

“Yes, I told you not to do that.”

A tumble of very breathless apologies. He’s still against the wall, catching his breath, apologizing.

I hear the words “I’m sorry” rise to the back of my throat and I bite down hard.

Because I’m not sorry. I’m not even sorry I’m not sorry. How do I really feel?

I rise to my feet and join him at the wall to whisper in his ear, “I don’t make a habit of placating men.”

More apologies tumble out, “I don’t want you to placate me.”

I go get two glasses of water.

We drink the water and talk naked for 45 minutes or so, with our heads resting on each others knees like a yin yang. A yin yang of pale jewish skin but nonetheless. There was no resentment, there was no fear, no anger, it was the best conversation we’ve ever had.

And I keep forgetting about it. This could have turned into a moment I played back for the rest of my life. If I hadn’t said something in that moment I would have hated him. I would have hated me. I would have been full on anger and empty on self-esteem.

And instead it’s a moment that I don’t even conjure up unless reminded of how pleased I am with it.

The thing that keeps striking me in the retelling is how easy it was, and how well-received. I know this makes me lucky. These things make me lucky. But also, if every woman could feel how easy it was to react that way then maybe it would be easier to convince ourselves that we’re allowed to be active participants in our sex lives, to convince our partners that we’re active participants in our sex lives. Perhaps it would go some way towards not being treated like chattel. Towards being treated like subjects in our own spaces.

It’s worth a try anyway.

 

Be Proud To Stand Up

26 Jan

A few months ago I allowed myself to be convinced by a guy to do something I didn’t want to do. I had to forget that I was allowed to say No in order to remember that I wanted to say No. I felt like a fool.

And then I said No. I said it loudly, I got up and put my clothes on.

But so much more upsetting than the experience itself was the experience of telling my friends about saying No and them being shocked at my gall. Shocked at how I could stand up for myself. And I was shocked at how foreign it sounded to them. It made me really sad.

I don’t want anyone to be shocked at my boldness. I want everyone to hear that story and say Duh and tell me about their version of the story.

When I was 12 boys slid their hand up my thigh and slapped my butt. I smiled and took it because I didn’t know it was okay to say stop. I didn’t know that I could say no. So, when the principal calls telling me my daughter is suspended for punching a boy who wouldn’t stop touching her, I will cook her favorite meals. When she tells me how she cursed at the boy who wouldn’t move his hands off her knee even though she asked him to, I will smile and pull out her favorite movie to watch together. I will celebrate the fact that she accepts her body as her own and knows she has the right to say no. I never want my daughter to think her body belongs to men, because it is her own and my god should she be proud. I will teach her it’s more than okay to say stop, something I wish I had known when I was that age.

-don’t be soft, let the world know you exist restrictedthoughts

 

Am I Arrogant Or Am I Just Winning?

19 Jan

I’m doing a social experiment called ‘agreeing with boys when they compliment you’.

the results:

It’s like men fear that if I can love and appreciate myself then I won’t need them. They should pray for that. They should hope that I love and appreciate myself enough so that I never need them, I want them.

The fact that a woman who appreciates herself and loves every inch of her body and her mind is perceived as arrogant and vain whereas a woman who struggles with self esteem issues is more or less the norm and seen as modest clearly shows how society is trying to belittle woman and trick them into thinking they somehow have to feel inadequate all the time. [x]