Ammo Grrrll draws on painful personal experience to declare NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN…is not just a typing exercise! She writes:
On an hourly basis, we learn of another woman making accusations of sexual harassment, assault, even outright rape. Other women claim to be “uncomfortable” or offended by a hand on a shoulder, a pat on the back, any human touch. I come from a warm “touchy” family, so I have tended to believe that a lot of those complaints are overwrought. But then I sat down and thought about my own experiences and got depressed. I wondered if ANY female person escapes unscathed? I am pretty tough, worldly, and unusually impervious to locker room talk, and still it’s not a pretty picture. I warn dear readers that what follows is a downer and I’m sorry. I will be funny again next week. And yet I feel lucky. I have seen only my husband in the shower and we own no indoor potted plants.
When I was nine years old (1955), I spent a Sunday afternoon at a friend’s farm near a lake. We played outside all day and in the late afternoon went down to the lake. A man who was well known to us was there in his fancy speedboat. He asked us if we would like a ride. Woohoo! Sure! Then he said that the very large boat was “too small” for all of us and he could only take us one at a time.
I was a logical little girl even then and it was obvious to me that the boat would hold at least six. Alarm bells went off, but I was so innocent I didn’t even know what to fear. I had been warned of Stranger Danger, but the man was not a stranger. He took me first. Somewhere in the middle of the lake, out of sight of the shore, he turned off the motor and my little heart sank. I thank the dear Lord that what he did, though disgusting and terrifying, was not as bad as it could have been. He made me promise not to tell, under threat of being thrown overboard. I could not swim. It took me 20 years to lose my fear of deep water.
We came back to shore and I tried to warn my friend without alerting the monster. Shaking my head “No” and trying to use my eyes, I said softly, “Let’s just go play.” But, naturally, she wanted a turn too. For decades I harbored guilt that I had failed to prevent her abuse. He did exactly the same thing to her. Afterwards, we ran to the farmhouse, crying. Her mother realized something was terribly wrong and asked us what had happened. We told and a virtual bomb went off. She ran into the field where her husband was on the tractor. He ran back to the house and called my father. Though the farm was about 8 miles from my house in town, Daddy showed up in less than 10 minutes. With a loaded shotgun, God Bless him.
They separated us and questioned us intensely, lest we were just two imaginative little girls making stuff up. Our stories were identical and unshakeable. They got in the car with two shotguns and went to the man’s house. He denied it, but our Daddies said if they ever saw or heard of him coming within a mile of their daughters again, that they would kill him. I told; I was believed. Daddy took care of it. I learned that there were bad men and good men who would protect you. I also learned always to trust my instincts, my gut. A forever lesson.
I have been treated to two flashers who would have been well advised to stay covered. One while jogging and one while waiting for my then-boyfriend in the living room of his college dorm. I called the police on the one outdoors, because when a man outdoors is naked from the waist down, one can never be sure his intent is not more serious than exposure.
A very boring, repetitive obscene phone caller bothered me a couple of times a week for a year until we figured out who it was. This was long before Caller ID. The worst part was that the idiot always called right after I had finally drifted off to sleep from my night job. I dared not take the phone off the hook, lest I miss an emergency with my son or parents.
I called the cops and a nice officer came right out and took me very seriously. He assured me that the vast majority of these pathetic losers are not dangerous. When we finally figured out who it was, I had my good friend Randy, a Vietnam vet, call him. He told the guy that he had been a Green Beret and if he ever called again, Randy would see to it that he would never walk right again or be able to dial a phone. The calls stopped.
Those are the actual crimes. The rest falls under “hostile work environment” which I consider way, way, way less serious. Feminist friends sported “I believe Anita” buttons. My problem with Anita Hill was not that I thought that she was lying; I thought that if every single thing she said was true, it was still a giant nothing-burger. Some stupid jokes about Long Dong Silver? That’s all you got? She was never touched and followed Justice Thomas to every job.
When I worked night-shift with the 80 guys, I could not possibly log the nightly suggestive comments and kind offers they felt I couldn’t pass up. Truly, most fell into the category of harmless banter, and some were even funny. I either gave it right back to them or ignored them. Though never groped, I was often slapped on the behind. Could I have whined to the bosses? Of course. In my family, tattling was never rewarded. And, secondly, I was the only woman in this shop, a pioneer. I wanted to prove women were tough enough to handle it.
Only one thing upset me in three years. On an older co-worker’s birthday, he asked me to kiss him on the cheek; I attempted a chaste little peck at which point he turned his head, grabbed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth, Franken style. I screamed, “HOWARD!!,” and pushed him as hard as I could. He fell over a chair. The other guys cheered. He went home early.
In my 30-year comedy career, no club manager, corporate client or fellow comedian ever got out of line, except for one subsequently-famous comic, usually high on cocaine, who used to beg me routinely: “Susan, please, just show me one [slang word for breast].” There will be no weepy news conference in which I out this sophomoric chucklehead with Gloria Allred by my side. If it had upset me unduly, I would have kicked his sorry butt myself. On the other hand, he IS very rich now… No. There are some contexts in which if you can’t take the heat, you should get out of the kitchen, and a comedy Green Room is definitely one of them.
But what about that little nine-year-old girl? After moving to another state to drive a school bus, the pedophile was eventually arrested for molesting his own grandchildren. He is long dead now, looking forward to brunch this Sunday with Charles Manson. I wish Daddy had shot him in 1955. I wish I could bring him back from the dead to shoot him now.
Can you good and decent men – whom I count in the vast majority – not somehow police the monsters? Every last lefty Hollywood “man” knew about Harvey. Every. Last. One. The moral cowards, busy Tweeting about the Republican “War on Women” stood by and were complicit for decades. Give me my “redneck” father and his shotgun any day. As Richard Pryor intoned, decrying racism by parodying a Psalm: “How long, O Lord, must this bullshit go on?”