Every Woman Knows a Weinstein

(content contains assault, rape, child abuse)

I read a long detailed article about all the women who have come forward with their Weinstein story and while my empathy was real, my shock was missing.  As women we have all encountered the random rick roll.  Most of us did so without ever considering that we were a victim because it is so deeply entrenched into our hands-on-in-your-face culture and as women we are taught that it is our job to say NO and mens job to push the envelope.
As a 17 year old in highschool, I had a meeting with my English teacher early one snow bound morning in a Pittsburgh suburb.  I was on time and didn’t think twice that the lights were off as I entered the room.  I stood at the front of the classroom as my eyes adjusted from the bright lights in the hallway and saw my teacher standing in the corner in the back of the room.  I could see his hands moving quickly as he fastened his pants and turned around; face dripping of sweat, his speech breathless as he began talking about the upcoming test for which our meeting was scheduled to discuss.  
He knew we had a meeting.  He knew what time it was.  And there was no mistake that I walked in on my unapologetic English teacher masturbating in the back of the classroom.  Did I think it odd?  Perhaps slightly.  But by high school I had already encountered non consensual sex, my close friend was pregnant by the ROTC recruiter and my maternal grandfather was a pedophile.  It was the disco era.  As young feminists we were taught no pain, no gain.  And at the time we bought the bullshit.

The term date rape wasn’t even uttered before the late 1980s.  Because unless the perpetrator was a stranger, with a gun, in a dark ally, in the bad side of town, then no violation took place.  This is how we were taught … mostly by the rapist catholic school boys we were “dating”.  This is after being groomed by pedophile grandparents, uncles or that 15 year old boy from across the street that Mom thought would be a good babysitter while she went to the grocery store.

Weinstein is not an anomaly.  His behavior represents standard operating procedure for a much larger population of predators that we all know from our growing years, our school days, our work interviews and our family reunions.  As women we don’t report it because of the general acceptance that the actions have acquired in our society.  (What were you wearing?  How did you lead him on? What proof do you have?)  Who did I tell about my encounter with the English teacher?  My girl friend waiting in the hall, on her crutches 8 months pregnant … and I’m sure we laughed.  Because that’s what we were taught to do. 

It becomes a joke.  Slapsdick comedy.  This is about power.  Who has it.  And who is being slapped down, put in her place, made to feel less than.

When we challenge the patriarch, we will be chided about our “safe spaces”, our “persistence” or our resting bitch face (come on, give us a smile).  When we seem to be gaining ground then the witch trials begin again and trumped up charges and trolls cry out to burn us at the stake.  We know how the story goes, we know what happens when we turn the next page.  Every image and subliminal destruction tells us to shut up and put out then shut up again.

So now what?  How do we find our voice during a time when women’s rights are being chipped away with a sledge hammer and chainsaw.  What waterproof mascara do we need for the massacre that follows each time we try and stand up, sit down or bend a knee?  Of course I have no answer. But perhaps we start by telling our stories, if we feel it is safe to do so and we are so inclined.

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