Harvey Weinstein

And yet the rage that many of us are feeling doesn’t necessarily correspond with the severity of the trespass: Lots of us are on some level as incensed about the guy who looked down our shirt at a company retreat as we are about Weinstein, even if we can acknowledge that there’s something nuts about that, a weird overreaction. Part of it is the decades we’ve spent being pressured to underreact, our objections to the small stuff (and also to the big stuff!) bantered away, ignored, or attributed to our own lily-livered inability to cut it in the real world. Resentments accrete, mature into rage.

“I stuffed all my harassment memories in an emotional trash compactor because there are just so many,” says my friend Amina Sow. “Now the trash compactor is broken, and everything is coming up.” Sow said that among the things she’s recalled over the past few weeks are an old boss in Washington “who definitely jerked off in the office and would make sure to let me see the porn on his computer. He has a bigger job now. And the man who pinned me to the wall in the copy room and told me I should be grateful he’s paying attention to me because I’m a fat pig. I reported both those incidents, by the way, and nothing happened.”

And that’s before we get to the real mind-fuck: the recognition of how we’ve participated in this system.

Starting when she was 28, Deanna Zandt, an artist and activist, had a secret, consensual relationship with a boss in his mid-50s who was a widely known sexual harasser of her co-workers. “It sounds so fucking stupid now,” says 42-year-old Zandt, unspooling the mix of fear, self-doubt, and self-interest that kept her in the relationship. “I didn’t know how to get away from him, because if he were just a complete douchebag, I wouldn’t be with someone like that. But he was also very charming and publicly very feminist, and he introduced me to people and did all these other things that were supportive.” At the same time, “he was this known abuser, and I even defended him: ‘Oh, he’s just an old stoner hippie; he doesn’t mean anything by it.’ So I participated — and I saw other women get targeted by him.”

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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