Dear Weinstein, I'm Grabbing Back.
Written by Mara Strobel-Lanka
As the last week has uncovered more and more disturbing details surrounding Harvey Weinstein’s horrifying history of committing one sexual assault after another, I’ve watched in awe as woman after woman has come forward with uncomfortable, all too fathomable stories. I have listened as cohorts have explained “some men are just like that,” I have bitten my tongue when Trump supporters turned their noses up in disgust, and I have felt my own shaky, vulnerable pain harden into resolve as the list of victims grows longer.
I’d like to offer my heart, my support, and my willpower to the myriad of talented, ambitious women who have been assaulted, compromised, and oversexualized by a small man with big enough money, power, and influence to get away with a crime that hurt their humanity and jeopardized their careers. I’d like to do what I can with my small means to help create a world where women are valued enough to never have to exist in situations where a man’s desire can overwhelm a woman’s position to say no. And I’d like to start by telling part of my story.
Last year, sexual assault was pulled into the limelight by our President. What was once a nationwide opportunity to condemn the actions of a perverse and practiced predator, morphed into the politicization of a violating issue that has realized epidemic proportions. Every 98 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Nine out of ten of these victims are female. This is a problem that is consistently brushed under the rug by college campuses, political campaigns, and major corporations. It’s a problem so large that no one is alienated from it. We knew this last election season, and we know it a year later as we read the same devastating headlines, time and time again.
“And when you're a star, they let you do it… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” We know the quote by heart; it’s so ingrained in women’s culture that we can hear the smug voice of its owner echo through our heads, giving us chills. It inspired a hit hashtag, a trendy new hat, and millions of women to hit the streets of America (and beyond) for the historic Women’s March. But it didn’t move enough voters to keep him out of office and out of power; only out of the jail cells where criminals of other tax brackets are condemned.
After his words were broadcasted, I traveled to D.C. and walked in the Women’s March. I saw sign after sign and listened to woman after woman share stories of their heartbreak, their sexual assaults, their outrage. At the end of the march, my four companions and I relayed our reflections with both pride and shock. We had come to Washington to support gender equality and immigrants, and to condemn systematic racism and class divides, but we left remembering the eye contact made with countless women holding signs that read, “I didn’t survive my sexual assault to hear my president brag about it.”
As we headed Southbound to return home to Jax, we timidly shared our own stories, only to realize that 3 of 5 passengers in the car were victims ourselves, some of us more than once. We cried, hugged, held one another close, and let the haunting feeling of helplessness pass under our tires. We promised to speak up, to act, to never be compromised again. We felt our honesty with each other would help make us invincible. The next month, that number grew to four out of five.
Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual assault, of intimidation, and of inappropriateness in the workplace is more than a headline. It’s a social norm. It’s an epidemic. It’s a disgrace. And it won’t end until we hold each perpetrator accountable, no matter their position, power, or political affiliation. There is a lot of work to be done, a lot of stories to be told, and a lot of glass left to be shattered. We’ll be standing with the victims who’ve been kept silent and we’ll be clocking in the hours listening and resisting until every woman can say that lives in a world where she is safe, valued, and unafraid to speak out.
Mara is the Babes Who Hustle executive assistant as well as the content creator for Momni. When she isn't managing all things BWH, styling photoshoots and writing for The Boutique Next Door, you can find her sailing, dancing, or sprawled out on a beach blanket with her latest read.