Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why Would I Lie?

I did not see Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda on Chris Hayes discussing the predatory culture of Hollywood, the Restaurant Industry, the Fashion Industry, Politics or well anywhere there is a man who is rich, white and and over 21.  That was the barometer of permission in my home and I look back on it now as the beginnings of what we now call White Privilege.

But the one thing that I agree with is that we would not here one word about this if these people were not White and Rich and Famous. Only Lupita Nyong'o has been the only face of color that has come forward with allegations about Fat Fuck Weinstein.  So hey at least he was not a racist, that has be something! 

There is another concept that needs to be addressed that these women were and are afraid regardless. True they are famous and have that ability to hire the appropriate Lawyers, Therapists and Publicists that can enable them to restore their lives and credibility despite the machine that normally works overtime to discredit anyone who decides to pursue legal recourse or at least an apology and admission of truth.  Guilt no truth yes and in some cases there have been at least this in the cases of John Besh and even former President Bush (although that was silly and sad as the man is ill and in wheelchair and I question his cognitive functioning so really that one needs to be let go).

As for Fat Fuck Weinstein he claims the 40 some encounters he had with these Actresses were all consensual and yet now Directors and other Actors are admitting they knew and hired women, defended women or in fact continued to work with him despite their knowledge from first hand sources to work with FFW.  Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarentino I mean you.

Then the last two women to come forward and share their sad horrid stories, Annabella Sciorra and Darryl Hannah, to Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker,  I found myself finally losing my shit. 

The bigger question is will this change for any woman? No.  We have never reconciled our historical marker of slavery and in turn the racism that exists in this country for anyone not white nor male.  The pass we give to white women is this. Wow Fonda was right.

Will Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Finally Reform Men?

OCTOBER 28 2017

Has America at last reached a turning point on sexual harassment? Watching the events of the past three weeks, one can hope.

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sudden and overdue expulsion from Hollywood for his serial predation, hundreds of long-silent women are calling out powerful, influential men at a remarkable clip and accusing them of sexual misconduct: Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios; the film director James Toback; the literary critic Leon Wieseltier; the restaurateur and celebrity chef John Besh; and the political commentator Mark Halperin, to name just a few.

Several of these men have accepted some degree of responsibility for their behavior. Former President George Bush, now 93 and using a wheelchair, apologized last week after multiple women said he groped them and whispered a crude joke during photo ops. He described it as an “attempt at humor.”

Let’s not forget — let’s not ever forget — Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, three giants of American popular culture who treated women despicably for decades, and paid a price, whether through criminal prosecution, public humiliation, job loss or forking out tens of millions of dollars in hush money. #MeToo, indeed.

This reckoning is all to the good, even if it is far too late. It feels as though a real and lasting transformation may be afoot — until you remember that this isn’t the first time women have sounded the alarm.

Remember Anita Hill, who told a firing line of skeptical senators the story of constant harassment by her boss, Clarence Thomas, more than 25 years ago. The lawmakers, every one of them male, seemed less concerned with the alleged misconduct of a Supreme Court nominee than that a woman would drag such a tawdry subject into the halls of Congress. While Ms. Hill’s brave testimony prompted a sharp rise in sexual-harassment claims, she was vilified in public; nearly twice as many Americans said at the time that they believed now-Justice Thomas’s account of what happened over hers.

Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape — all of which he has denied. Mr. Clinton did eventually admit to the affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, that nearly toppled his presidency, but he pointed out that it was not illegal.

Then, of course, there’s the current occupant of the Oval Office, who won the election only weeks after the public heard him brag about grabbing women’s genitalia, and who once said that if his daughter were ever sexually harassed at work, she should go find a new job. That president leads a party intent on passing laws that would re-establish gender norms and hierarchies from the middle of the last century (Defund Planned Parenthood! No abortions after six weeks!) — making it harder for women to attain the social equality and economic independence that would go a long way toward reducing sexual harassment in the workplace.

In other words, even the highest-profile opportunities to change America’s endemic culture of sexual harassment, which is overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, committed by men against women, can somehow be lost or swept away. How do we keep that from happening again?

And how do we ensure that progress filters down to average American workplaces, where sexual harassment occurs all the time but rarely gets media attention? The answer is part cultural, part economic and part legal.

The most conservative estimates say 25 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work, although the real number is surely much higher, since only a small fraction of such behavior is ever reported. As many as 90 percent of workers who are harassed never file a formal complaint, according to a 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which receives more than 12,000 complaints of sex-based harassment each year.

The reasons for this silence are obvious: Women fear retaliation, indifference or disbelief if they speak up. If it’s hard for rich and famous people, so many of whom kept silent in the face of Mr. Weinstein’s well-known depredations, imagine how much harder it is for someone with no political or economic power. But the Weinstein saga also illustrates what a difference it can make when women join together — and men join with them — to confront harassers openly.

HOW TO CHANGE THE CULTURE The key is to foster work environments where women feel safe and men feel obliged to report sexual harassment. “People need to be afraid not just of doing these things, but also of not doing anything when someone around them does it,” Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told The Times’s Nicholas Kristof last week. “If you know something is happening and you fail to take action, whether you are a man or a woman — especially when you are in power — you are responsible, too.”

But speaking up only goes so far if employers don’t make reporting harassment easy or the consequences for harassers swift and clear. Treating sexual harassment seriously is essential, not to protect against liability or to safeguard the bottom line, but because it’s wrong for anyone to have to endure harassment at work. (Though it sure helps when liability and the bottom line are at stake, too.)

Some of the nation’s largest companies are moving in the right direction. For example, McDonald’s, Burger King, Aramark and Walmart have signed on to a program requiring their tomato growers to adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits sexual harassment and assault of farmworkers, and provides a clear system for the growers’ 30,000 workers to file complaints. Fourteen businesses are part of the program; many more should join.

IT’S ABOUT POWER AND MONEY Sexual-harassment culture is tied directly to the economics of the workplace. Since harassment is about power, it’s no surprise that it thrives in industries where women are systematically kept out of powerful roles — and paid less for doing the same work as men. (This may help explain why sexual-harassment cases make up nearly half of all harassment complaints from the private sector, but less than 10 percent of those from employees of the federal government, where women have more opportunities to rise to positions of authority.)

Too often, male harassers use their economic power to silence women, as Mr. Weinstein and Mr. O’Reilly did repeatedly, offering them hefty payments in return for signing nondisclosure agreements. If employers were more responsive and harassment cases were easier to pursue in the courts, there would be fewer of these settlements, which can be good for individual women but allow the predatory behavior to continue unchecked.

One compromise could be to require businesses to report how many sexual-harassment claims they settle every year, or even how many complaints they receive. This would at least give prospective employees a chance to assess how bad the problem is at a given company, and could lead to greater public scrutiny in more extreme cases.

LEGAL BARRIERS The Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion and other protected classes. Twelve years later, it made employers liable for supervisors’ harassment of workers. But in 2013, the court stepped backward, ruling that employers are liable only for racial or sexual harassment by a supervisor who has the power to fire a worker or prevent his or her promotion. In a 5-to-4 ruling, with only male justices in the majority, the court held that employers are not automatically liable for harassment by the larger number of supervisors who don’t have that power, even if they control all other aspects of a worker’s daily activities.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the decision ignored the realities of the modern workplace, and the “particular threatening character” of a supervisor’s power and authority, even one not vested with the power to fire. A worker who confronts a harassing supervisor risks “receiving an undesirable or unsafe work assignment or an unwanted transfer. She may be saddled with an excessive workload or with placement on a shift spanning hours disruptive of her family life.”

Congress could and should overturn that ruling today by passing a law that reinstates the broader and more realistic definition of a supervisor. But good luck with that; Capitol Hill can’t even keep its own house in order. Representative Jackie Speier of California, who said she was sexually assaulted years ago when she was a congressional staff member, told Politico on Thursday that the compliance office tasked with handling harassment complaints is “toothless,” and said that Congress has been “a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long.”

This may turn out to be the year when the tide finally turned on sexual harassment. The elements for a permanent cultural shift are certainly in place. More women have entered the work force, and the pay gap with men is closing, though not fast enough. More women than men are graduating from college; more are earning advanced degrees; and increasing numbers are managers, though the proportions of women still become thinner and thinner the higher in management you look. And, crucially, the internet and social media have opened a door to instant communication and community support that didn’t exist before, helping women feel less isolation and shame about their experiences, and more confident that speaking out will have a positive result.

In the end, though, the most lasting change will have to come from men, who are doing virtually all the sexual harassing. Boys must be raised to understand why that behavior is wrong, teenagers need to be reminded of it and grown men need to pay for it until they get the message.

I have had sex with bosses out of confusion, misunderstanding, fear and attraction.  As a woman in my 20s I was not educated, nor informed about sex, sexuality and the dynamics it possesses.  So when I heard of Monica Lewinsky I did not condemn her as I got it I really did.  Anita Hill had balls and she too was dragged through the wringer.  Women are thought of as Virgins or Whores and that has not changed.  

I thought being a Virgin until 18 to a boyfriend who is one of the few men I have any respect for now at 40 years later is quite telling.   I have always had a male approach to sex as I learned quickly it is a commodity.  One man said to me, "I have never had sex with a Prostitute."  My response, "That you know of."  But when it come to sex when it comes to women, we are all Prostitutes to men.  The fact was as these stories unfolded,  I found myself doing a sexual inventory about the men whom I had been fucked and fucked over by.  Some were consensual, some were utterly influenced by way too much drink and in turn the idea that it would somehow protect or enable me to keep my job in a subliminal way.  I can't recall every encounter as that trauma is too much for any sole person to do.  I have been fucking lucky. I have been raped twice. And one that ended quite differently.  And all by men I dated and knew.

Once under way too much alcohol by a partner who should not have touched me as I was not able to consent under the law and despite our previous relationship it was not something I recall and when I woke up it did not "feel" right and I contacted the Police and in turn was shut down.  Although I think they believed me I was in no position to truly provide evidence and testimony. Little did I know how that would come back to haunt me decades later.

The second was with again a partner whom I originally consented and then it got ugly and turned into a situation that was not consensual nor something I wanted at all.  His name was Chris Harrison and no why he was not the host of the Bachelor that name is one you don't forget. He was evil and likely still is.

The last was I suspect was coitus interruptus as it never made it that far.  Char was a 24 year old doctorate student in Chemistry at the University of Washington. I met him after he completed his B.S. and was working at a lab.  He was all of 21 and of mixed Middle Eastern descent from Portland.  He had not yet started Grad school and was very good looking and quite nice.  Our "relationship" was brief as he was too young and I jokingly told him to call me when he hit 24 as that was cut off age.  I was 50 at the time.   Funny that age difference is not a problem when the man is the senior but when you are a woman it is utterly a different reaction.

Char called me a couple of years later and said he had made the cutoff date and at the time my dog had been dead a year and I was feeling out of sorts and considering a move to Denver to find some work of meaning and a life of one as Seattle and I were done.  One cannot go home again that much is true.

I met him for a drink and that is the last memory I have for over a week.  I sustained a massive traumatic brain injury from my car hitting a pole straight on. I am lucky to be alive and in turn I still to this day actually believe that the accident saved my life in more than one realized.  I was found in coma with a blood alcohol count of .18 which is akin to alcohol poisoning. The blood test done at the hospital confirmed positive for benzodiazephine a drug component found in date rape drugs.  A chemistry student would have no problem acquiring said drug and not a problem using it.

The reality is that I suspect that he was the individual the witness who came upon my car immediately after the accident who leaned in on the passenger side and told him I was still breathing and in turn walked off into the night.  That is a matter of the police record and that man despite a camera at the corner that records running red lights and such was never suponeaned and in turn my cell phone records confirming that said "Char" existed.

But I think I drove into that pole on purpose as the damage was solely to the drivers side and something flipped in my brain and I think Char was the passenger and hence the getting in/out on that side and walking off into the night.  He was taking me to my home and had anything happened to me there I would never have known nor recalled thanks to the drugs.  Had I had a seizure or adverse reaction to the drugs and alcohol he poured down my throat it would have been weeks before I would have been found. 

That night chased me for five years and four court cases.  Two civil and two criminal ending in me losing both appeals.  I am still running.   And the same argument and debate is what I hear today.  And the same question I asked my Attorneys and those who opposed me: Why would I lie? 

The answer is irrelevant as women are not valued nor respected in America.  Black Lives Matter as do Women's, as do Children's and Immigrants and those not Christian. Get over it and move over the couch is full of all of us wanting to be heard and no one is listening.  I know, I learned that the hard way.

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