In a book called, The Practical Handbook for the Actor, is this solid advice:
“Your feelings don’t matter. They are unsustainable.
What matters is your action.
Your action to affect another person will drive you through to the end of the scene.
Your feelings will come and go.”
I’m writing this when I feel like giving up. I would rather be sleeping. It’s my day off.
But I’m telling this story because writing is my best response to everything that’s been brewing for… well, a long time now. Most of my life.
And long, long, long before I was born.
So, here are my thoughts on Harvey Weinstein. On Danny Masterson. On Louis C.K. On Bill Cosby. On Kevin Spacey. On Casey Affleck. On Bill Clinton. On--
--On the producer who frequently invited me over to his house for production meetings, only when his wife wasn’t home.
--On the stranger who grabbed me by the waist a week ago, smelled my hair, and told me, “You should wear perfume. Women need to wear perfume.”
--On the boyfriend that took my by the shoulders and shook me, hard.. because I wasn’t agreeing with him.
--On the guy who put his penis inside me, and started to fuck me, moments after I told him we would not have sex without a condom.
Writing these names down, recounting these incidents, I don’t feel any better.
I still feel ashamed. I feel angry. I feel helpless.
I want to lie down, and say, you know what? Hey, I’m alive, and I’m doing great. I’m happy. Let’s let it go. Your life is awesome.
Forget about it.
“Men will be men.”
One of the adjectives that is frequently used to describe me as an actress, and person, emotionally and physically, is the word strong.
“You’re an Amazon!” people say to me.
Someone said I looked like a Viking once.
Midwestern Farm Girl. Strength. Warrior.
Am I a warrior?
I very frequently look the other way, when it comes to men behaving badly. Because it is much, MUCH easier than calling someone out.
I soothe friends, men and women, who are upset, victimized by abuses of power.
I counsel forgiveness in the most horrifying of incidents... to help the injured party move on.
I don’t feel strong.
Right now, I feel weak. I feel the day after day nature of all these women recounting their everyday horrors, I feel the trauma of emotion, the resonance of abuse.
Mostly, I feel deep sadness. The leaden-heart, dull-brain, throat-constricting sadness.
Because the system of power (that is set up to be abused) is one that I’ve already learned how to bargain with.
As a “strong woman”, I’ve learned to accept that men and women in power will abuse their power. That it’s up to me personally to ensure my own safety, mentally and physically. And that sometimes I won’t be able to protect myself. That bad shit will happen to me, and to the women I love. That it’s more likely to happen to me, especially, because I am a woman, a young woman. That therefore, I am a target.
After a couple of relationships with physical altercations, where I’ve been hit, I realize I now have the violent impulse to strike a loved one in me.
And I’ve done it. I’ve hit the people I’ve loved.
And I am deeply ashamed of this action.
Looking at my violent physical action, I realize this:
Abuse of another comes down to a fundamental lack of empathy.
When you abuse someone else, you put your own needs first. They cease to be a person, their needs don't matter. You stop seeing them, stop hearing them. You are driven forward by your feeling of desire.
Yesterday, I meditated. And I tried to put myself in Harvey Weinstein’s shoes.
And I found that it was easy.
Incredibly easy to imagine that I was in a position of power.
Easy to imagine filling a void of need by objectifying another person.
And what’s more- it was exciting.
It’s frequently been observed that we don’t have Kings and Queens in this country.
But we do have movies. And TV. And Netflix. And we have Stars…
And we have people we call “Star-Makers.”
Do you want to know my perspective as a woman, still struggling to make my name in show business?
I think the whole industry is lost, and afraid. Unsteady on its feet. Horrified. Sick. Turned on. Distancing itself… from the things that have defined it.
A power structure that is top down will always breed corruption. It’s funny that an industry devoted to storytelling- a most fundamentally empathetic art form- breeds these same power dynamics as The Church, a Corporation, the United States Government.
Because we are not at all surprised by all these scandals. We are disgusted. And we are simply fascinated as we read the details.
And I clearly recognize myself as the victim. And what’s more- I also recognize myself in the abuser.
So I’m looking hard at the people around me. And I’m looking even harder at myself.
I’ve been trying to make a joke for about a month now, to help make all of this more bearable. It has to do with a giant billboard that we make over Sunset Boulevard, like those giant signs they hang in factories where dangerous machinery is being operated. “13 Days Without an Incident.” “5 Days without an Incident.”
I keep hoping that one day, just one single day will pass where I don’t hear or see something terrible happening here in Hollywood.
"Zero Days Without an Incident".
It hasn’t happened yet.
There’s a girl in L.A., who is an older woman now, (but will forever be a girl in many ways,) who goes by the name of Angelyne. She’s “famous for being famous”. Google her- it’s a fascinating, terrible, and deeply American thing she’s doing with her life.
But anyway, one of the facts of her life is that Angelyne’s parents met while both were prisoners of a concentration camp during WWII. There, being starved and beaten by Nazis, they fell in love, and had the baby... who would grown up to be Angelyne.
I am in love right now. It is wonderful.
Of course, my love and I are not in a concentration camp… by any stretch of the imagination.
But we are in a precise moment in history, that is very dark. And it is also very brilliant.
And our love helps me find the courage to follow through with my actions, despite my feelings.
It is a love that allows both darkness and brilliance in me, and in him.
Our love helps me accept the hard and noble facts of this era that we live in.
I keep trying to step back, gain perspective.
What is needed from me right now by my community?
What is an action that I can do to help heal everyday trauma that is coming to the front of our cultural conversation where I live?
I can help people learn to meditate.
I can help people laugh.
I can listen to their stories.
I can chronicle my own feelings, and offer them to others as a way to heal.
I can love.
So, here I am.
Ready to listen to you.
Tell me your story?