Will Some People Never Get It?
I won’t lie – the live tour for Yes Means Yes has been, by and large, an incredible experience. Getting to travel around and talk with all kinds of people about their work and our work to heal our very diseased sexual culture and prevent rape has been like a dream come true. The passion that people are bringing to these conversations gives me hope for the world. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love signing books that have my name on the cover, too. 😉
But there have been a few jarring moments, too. And the more I think about them and my responses to them, the more I realize how far we all have to go.
Exhibit A: At one venue, which shall remain nameless, the venue owner rushed over to me after the reading to gush about how awesome and powerful it was, how much he had learned and how his understanding of the world had been shifted. He offered to buy me a drink (bar at the venue), which of course, I accepted. As we’re waiting for the drink, he’s going on and on, and then he starts… fondling my hair. Not just touching my hair. Not brushing accidentally up against my hair. I mean full on stroking and petting it. This goes on for entire minutes, during which time he also manages to put his arm around me.
Now, here’s the thing. He’s the owner of a pretty powerful literary venue, and I’m a writer. I could totally have called him on his shit and asked him to stop. But a) I was kinda in shock that it was happening, especially given the context and b) I didn’t want to piss him off, lest he never book me again. So, instead, I waved and poked wildly, behind my back, at a friend of mine who was standing close by with her back to me, until she got the hint and stole me away.
But every time I tell this story, I wonder if I should have spoken up. Taken one for the team and risked pissing him off in order to maybe prevent him from doing this to someone else. I wasn’t ever in any danger – it was just creepy and inappropriate and not OK with me. Mostly I’m angry it happened – at a Yes Means Yes reading of all places! But I also can’t figure out – is there a right thing to have done? And did I do it? Would it have even made a difference to his addled brain if I’d said something, or would he have just decided I was an angry bitch and gone about fondling someone else’s hair the next night?
But… what if the next time he did that, that woman said something, too? Would he eventually be unable to keep blaming individual women? What’s our individual responsibility to the group? Have I asked enough questions yet? No? How about now?
Cross-posted at Bitch Ph.D.