We interrupt this regularly scheduled sobriety post to talk about current events in the media.
(But, for those of you wondering, yes I’m still sober, and it’s going quite well this time around).
I, like most film and tv hopefuls in LA, watched the Golden Globes last Sunday. Award season is my favorite time of year. I am always inspired by the glitz and glamour and (mostly) brilliant films being honored and the excitement in this city is palpable. Every time I sit down to watch a red carpet, I think, “this time next year…” Of course, that hasn’t happened yet, but I still hold out hope that on one of these award show Sundays, I’ll get to trade in my yoga pants for a sparkly ballgown.
Last Sunday, I was particularly excited about the red carpet after hearing that the unofficial dress code for the evening was black, to show support for the “Me Too” movement. I personally loved seeing all of my favorite actors dressed in solidarity and speaking out about sexual abuse, not just in the entertainment industry, but talking about the issue as a whole.
With that being said, I spit out my sparkling cider when I saw James Franco on the red carpet sporting a “Times Up” pin on his lapel. And here’s why, James Franco doesn’t have the best reputation ‘round these parts. We all remember the seventeen year old who released screen shots of her text conversations with Franco a few years ago. Texts that were, well, explicit in nature. On top of that, it’s kind of a known fact that he’s a womanizer. I’ve heard plenty of stories about him sleeping with his acting students and creating side projects, which normally feature at least one nude female. From what I know, I would steer clear of him if ever that situation presented itself, which is why his choice of accessory on the red carpet last week seemed laughably ironic to me. Would I classify him as a Harvey Weinstein-esque sexual predator? No. Based on what I know, I don’t think Franco’s treatment of women is criminal. I think he falls more into the Al Franken and Garrison Keillor category, both of whom, I think were unfairly persecuted by the allegations brought against them.
This is just my two cents based on all of the articles I’ve read and newscasts I’ve tuned into. I don’t know any of the women coming forward in these particular cases. I could be sorely mistaken and jamming my metaphorical foot into my proverbial mouth by cementing these thoughts in writing on this blog. But, I don’t think that’s the case.
I think we are all starting to realize that there is a “sliding scale” when it comes to sexuality and harassment and I think it’s something that this country as a whole, is trying to grasp. So, I’m going to do my part tonight and try to help everyone out a little bit. Below is a list of rules I’ve complied for both men and women to avoid situations that may get either side in trouble or cause someone to feel attacked, harassed, or assaulted. This probably goes without saying, but I’m not an expert on any of this, so whatever is said here, please feel free to take it or leave it.
Rule #1: Keep it in your pants.
I apologize for the blanket statement I’m about to make, but here it goes… No one wants to see your dick. Dicks look weird and they really aren’t the most attractive part of your physique. Personally, I’m an arms girl. Flex me a bicep, and I’ll swoon… whip out your glow worm and I will either laugh-cry or punch it, depending on the situation. This of course does not apply when you are in a consensual situation and both party’s clothes are coming off.
Rule #2: Know your audience.
If I have to listen to one more guy tell me that they continuously and relentlessly hit on a girl because he thought she liked it even though she never agreed to go out with him, I’m going to find an all women’s gladiator island, Wonder Woman style, and move there. You know when you’re making someone uncomfortable. We all know when we’re making someone uncomfortable. But, if you’re feeling real stubborn about this one, then please see below for the rules about this particular rule.
a.Body Language: Is the person you’re speaking to crossing their arms? Are they avoiding eye contact? Are they slowly moving towards an exit? Is their breathing labored? Does their face seem pale or oddly sweaty? Have they vomited or cried in the time that you’ve been speaking to them? If the answer is “yes”, you are making them uncomfortable and you need to apologize and show yourself the door.
b. Word Language: Has the person you’re speaking to said “Stop”, “Please Stop”, or “Shut up”? What about “No” or “Leave me alone”? Maybe not those exact words, but something close to it? Maybe a synonym like, “Fuck off”? If you hear anything even close to these examples, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, but do apologize for being a creep.
c. More Words: Has the person you are hitting on ever accepted your advances and agreed to spend more time with you? If you’ve been trying to chip away at that hot, but “playing hard to get” co-worker, please stop. You won’t chip away at her disgust for you, but you’ll probably chip away at her self-worth if you keep that shit up.
Rule #3: Keep your hands, your hollers, and your whistles to yourself.
Women don’t want their pussies grabbed, and I mean that both literally and metaphorically. About eight years ago, I was at a concert. My boyfriend and I were trying to make our way out of the stadium to the parking lot and it was really crowded, I could barely move. I held his hand as he pushed through the people ahead of us. I was wearing a skirt and some predatory douchecanoe (I refuse to call him a man), literally grabbed my vagina, full palm. I jumped back and let go of my boyfriend’s hand, in shock at what had just been done to my body. By the time my brain caught up with the experience, the pervert was gone, probably shuffling through the crowd, scooping up more fistfuls of lady parts. I remember my boyfriend looking at me and asking me what was wrong. I was probably wearing the assault all over my face, but I couldn’t bring myself to put it into words. I still have never told this story out loud. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever told that story. And guess what!? When you whistle as I walk by, or beep your horn, or yell, what you think is a compliment, out of your car window, I feel that same fear I felt when I was physically grabbed. I think a lot of women do. It’s aggressive and unwelcome and yes, it is verbal assault. I don’t need you, a complete stranger, to validate my appearance. I promise you, I looked in a mirror before I left the house this morning, I know I look good.
Rule #4: It’s better to ask for permission than forgiveness.
I’ve heard the opposite said a lot when it comes to other things in life, but when it comes to relationships, especially sexual ones, ask! I was with a guy once, we were getting into bed; I had my pajamas on and he was standing, somewhat awkwardly, in the corner of my room. As I flipped back the covers, he asked if it was okay if he got undressed. As far as I could remember, no guy had ever asked me that before, and I thought, “Why don’t more guys do that?” He checked in with me. He didn’t want to do anything that might make me uncomfortable and he didn’t want to overstep, especially since we were just getting to know each other. By asking that simple, straight forward question, he made me feel safe and respected, and I obviously said “yes”. Asking for permission won’t kill the mood or harsh your vibe or whatever other bro term is passing through your anxiety right now. We appreciate it. We like it. It turns us on.
Rule #1: The difference between sexual harassment and I’m-just-not-that-into-you.
While watching James Franco parade around the Golden Globes with his “Times Up” button, I coined a term, “The Franco Effect”. The Franco Effect is when a man, whom society has deemed “attractive”, does something questionable and gets away with it, while a man considered “unattractive” does the same exact thing and is persecuted for it. For example, Garrison Keillor, now again, all I know is what I’ve read and heard from multiple news outlets, but it sounds like Garrison touched a woman’s back in an attempt to console her, as a friend. That woman was wearing a shirt that exposed her back, so his hand didn’t meet cloth, it met skin, and that warranted a sexual misconduct accusation, and caused Keillor to lose his job. I’m sorry if this makes me sound like an asshole, but I really want to know what that woman would have done if it were Brad Pitt who had touched her back. No, I am not victim shaming or blaming. If this woman genuinely felt assaulted by Keillor’s actions, that is heartbreaking. I just want to ask these questions because I know I’m not the only one wondering. I also want to be sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to the definition of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The only way we end up taking a step back from this movement is if we start crying wolf. We can’t afford to cry wolf.
Rule #2: The difference between sexual assault and regret.
If you know me, you know that for the better part of 2011, I was messing around with a famous actor. At the time, I felt pretty cool. I was sleeping at his giant house in the hills, and going to dinner with his famous friends, and picking out his ties for press junkets. When it abruptly ended, not only was I heartbroken, but I felt like an idiot. I let this dude walk all over me. I made my life so much about him and his schedule, that I completely lost sight of myself, and I regret that time in my life. There was definitely a part of me that wanted to spray paint “[Insert Famous Name Here] is an ASSHOLE” all over this town. But, I didn’t. Instead, I picked myself up by the bootstraps and tried not to Google him so I could move on with my life. I’ve recently heard a lot of stories about girls who have dated famous men and are now trying to call them out for “using their power to take advantage of them”. One of the women coming forward against James Franco admitted to being in a consensual relationship with him and says that one time he asked her to perform oral sex in his car, and she really didn’t want to, but she did it anyways, and that’s assault. Another girl says she was his student, and he asked her to be in a short film, which he paid her $100 a day to do, and she had to do a nude scene, and she did it, but she didn’t want to, and that’s harassment. I’M SORRY…. WHAT?! Ladies, if you don’t want to do something, don’t do it! You can’t do it, and then try to claim assault because you regret what you did or because the guy you did it with turned out to be an asshat. That’s not how this works, and once again, you’re taking away from the movement and the victims coming forward. I can’t say it enough, if I’m missing the facts someone please tell me. In this instance, I sincerely hope that I am missing the facts. Also, I realize that these allegations ruin my “Franco Effect” term. Not the point, but it does further my frustration.
Rule #3: Speak up.
Men and women have very different ways of communicating. Iliza Shlesinger said it best when she stated, “Men and women communicate so differently I’m surprised we can be in the same room without ripping each other’s genitals off, quite frankly.” It’s on both sexes to do better when it comes to speaking and listening. Yes, women’s voices have been suppressed, historically speaking, and yes, a lot of us have been scarred and silenced by past experiences, but you know what’s even more true than all of that shitty shit? Our voices are strong and they matter and it is not only important, but necessary for us to speak up if we are ever in a situation that is uncomfortable or unwanted. I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty lucky to be living in a time where I can speak what’s on my heart and on my mind, and I know that I will be heard and I know that I have an army of women standing behind me, ready to speak up too.
Rule #4: With great power, comes great responsibility.
This pretty much sums up all the rules. We are finally living in a world that is listening when we talk, so let’s not fuck it up.
MEN AND WOMEN:
The only rule: Keep the conversation going.
Ask each other questions. Call each other out. Speak up if they aren’t listening, and listen when they speak. The only way we are all going to get through this together and better, is if we keep talking.