Julie Mitchell.jpg

I grew up watching the sitcoms where the men were always complaining

about their nagging wives. I watched movies where the hero was a guy who

would not take no for an answer until he got the girl.

I laughed at dumb blonde jokes.

I grew up thinking feminists were radical and irrational women who were

looking for a fight.

When a man was accused of sexual assault, one of my first thoughts was

the possibility that the woman was lying.

When I was in high school, I was aware of inappropriate behavior by boys

and men. A lot of us were. No one did anything about it.

I lived through the Anita Hill trial with disinterest. In college, I was

sick of the impeachment proceedings and off-put by sexual acts in the

White House. I wanted Bill Clinton out, but I also made jokes about

Monica Lewinsky. I didn’t mind that she was the punchline.

I didn’t head into college knowing the statistics like we have today -

that one in six

American women have been the victim of rape or attempted rape. Slowly, I

started hearing stories...acquaintances, friends, people I loved.

When I broke up with my college boyfriend, the campus police had to get

involved. I was scared. My sister left New York and moved in with me my

last months of school.

One of our college professors was escorted off campus by the police. We

all had a vague idea why. We knew some of the girls in our department

knew exactly why. No one talked about it.

After college I went for a massage at a spa. Something wasn’t right. I

was terribly uncomfortable, but I was too embarrassed to stop the

massage and leave. What if I was wrong? What if this is how it was done

and I just didn’t know? I didn’t want to accuse the masseuse of

something he didn’t intend.

On a tour of Greece, a young man kept following me - grabbing me. I

explicitly told him to stop. He didn’t. I laughed about it with my

friend. What else was I supposed to do?

It was no different than what happens on the dance floor of many a dance

club in the states. I love to dance, but every time I went to a club in

LA I would tire of yelling over the music at a guy I didn’t know to get

off of me. I stopped going.

And I knew, of course, to never go anywhere alone. And never leave my

drink unattended. And be polite when you turn a guy down because you

don’t want to make him angry.

There were other stories. The guy who blocked my apartment door until I

kissed him. There was a friend of a friend, a “nice” guy who turned

angry after we went on a date and I wasn’t interested in having another

one. The guy at Starbucks who refused to leave me alone, though I

politely said I wasn’t interested multiple times. The guy who picked me

up, literally, and wouldn’t put me down.

I learned from a friend who volunteered at the rape crises center at

UCLA that sexual assaults were occurring at an alarming rate through

ride share companies like Uber. That felt like information that should

be widely known, but it wasn’t.

All my friends in the entertainment industry had stories. The famous

director who cornered an actress in her trailer on a commercial shoot.

The successful writer who was told that she better dress down (jeans and

t-shirts) with no make-up if she wanted to be taken seriously by the

male staff.

As a new mom who was breast feeding, I suffered through several

humiliating conversations on commercial sets, surrounded by a circle of

men rolling their eyes and throwing up their hands as I explained why I

needed twenty minutes to go pump. I had to explain that, by law, they

had to give me those twenty minutes and provide a locked room that was

not a bathroom.

I was in a self defense class that my boss offered her staff after a man

tried to get in her car at a stop light. I sat in a circle with all

these women I loved and some of their daughters. I had a daughter at

home and I was pregnant with my son. As we went around the room

explaining why we were taking the class, we all cried for each other.

All the scary moments we’d been cornered, all the times we let ourselves

be uncomfortable rather than tell a guy that his joke, or his story, or

his stare made us uncomfortable, and our kids...we had to teach them

self defense and lockdown procedures. That’s the world we were raising

them in.

I say all of this to tell you how I came to understand that feminism is

not a radical concept. It’s just a belief that the concerns of women

deserve equal representation. We deserve to be safe. We deserve to be

trusted. We deserve to live in a world where one in six of us will not

be assaulted. We deserve to be paid the same as our male counterparts.

We deserve to be believed. We deserve to believe our own experiences. We

deserve to not be punished for having children or not having them.

We deserve to have Supreme Court justices that have never been accused

of harassment or sexual assault (we have two sitting justices who were

accused during their confirmation hearings). We deserve a president who

doesn’t call his mistress “Horseface” on Twitter or defend himself

against assault claims by saying the accuser isn’t attractive enough to

deserve his assault.

We deserve to be free of the Bill Cosbys, the Harvey Weinsteins, the

Matt Lauers, the Larry Nassars, the Les Moonveses, etc.

I know that some of you reading this don’t understand the #metoo

movement, or why women are marching, or why women feel alarmed in our

current political environment.

Even if you have never witnessed or experienced the things I talked

about above, and I really hope you haven’t, I hope that you can trust

the experiences of other women. Trust us when we say that there is a

problem and we need your help to fix it.