Morgan Freeman has been accused of sexual harassment.CNN released a damning expose detailing accusations from 16 people. Freeman allegedly harassed eight of them, while the others witnessed the behavior.One of the victims was a production assistant on the set of Going in Style, a bank robbery comedy starring Freeman. The unnamed victim said the actor “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear." He only stopped his behavior when co-star Alan Arkin intervened. One of the co-authors of the article, CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas, said the Shawshank Redemption star made inappropriate comments toward her during a press junket. Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, said Freeman held her hand for an extended period of time and looked her over after a handshake. She said he said variations of "I wish I was there" multiple times and told her she was “ripe.”The allegations come days after Vancouver's transit system TransLink announced the actor would be the 'voice' of its SkyTrain announcements. The plans have since been stalled according to The Vancouver Sun. Part of the incident was caught on camera, and since Warner Brothers, the company distributing the movie, and CNN are both owned by Time Warner, Melas went to HR. After giving her the runaround, HR decided the footage did not corroborate Melas’ story and told her she wouldn’t cover that movie. Freeman’s other victims, including a production assistant, said they did not report him because they feared retaliation, so they tried to find ways to prevent the harassment.“He did comment on our bodies... We knew that if he was coming by ... not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted," one alleged victim said.The 80-year-old is also accused of making inappropriate comments about business partner Lori McCreary. The accusations against Freeman differ from similar ones against other powerful men because he did it in front of witnesses or cameras. Freeman issued a statement through his publicist saying "he never intended to make anyone feel uneasy and apologizes to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected," according to the Associated...
According to a lawsuit from a former ESPN employee, Chris Berman, an ESPN host, left Jemele Hill a racist voicemail, reported TMZ. Adrienne Lawrence, a former legal analyst at the network, claims the incident happened in 2016 and when Hill reported the incident, ESPN ignored it.“In early 2016, ESPN's 'The Undefeated' personality Jemele Hill received a threatening and racially disparaging voicemail from Berman on her ESPN phone line," said Lawrence.The incident was reported to Marcia Keegan, who oversaw His and Hers, the show Hill used to host, but “nothing was done."Lawrence added that Berman has been involved in numerous incidents with women but "remains a celebrated and welcome ESPN employee."Hill is not involved in the lawsuit, and has not said anything about the allegations. Berman has been silent as well.Hill was mentioned in the suit in order to illustrate Lawrence's complaint of ESPN fostering a hostile work environment rife with sexual harassment, Bleacher Report reports.Lawrence alleges ESPN broadcaster John Buccigross mistreated her after she rejected his sexual advances. Lawrence said Buccigross sent her shirtless pictures and called her pet names including "dollface," "#dreamgirl" and "#longlegs" in text messages.ESPN released a statement to the Boston Globe refuting the allegations.“We conducted a thorough investigation and found these claims to be entirely without merit," ESPN spokesperson Katina Arnold said; and concluded "The company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”Arnold also claims the exchanges were consensual, and provided screenshots of text messages for proof.“Additionally, if you consider the attached portions of text messages exchanged between Ms. Lawrence (in blue) and Mr. Buccigross, it’s clear that they had a consensual, personal friendship that spanned...
Laverne Cox of Orange Is The New Black fame spoke about the #MeToo movement on Katie Couric's podcast on this week. .@lavernecox on our latest podcast: "The interesting irony of my life is that before I transitioned, kids called me a girl, and after I transitioned, people call me a man." Listen and subscribe here: https://t.co/0NwkaKFSRs
pic.twitter.com/jviCkEOWZw— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) February 8, 2018“I think we can always be more intersectional,” said Cox of the movement, which aims to give a voice to women who have dealt with sexual harassment, assault and abuse. “We can always include more people.”As a black trans woman, Cox spoke on the importance of including intersectional layer into the conversation around abuse, as they add important nuance.Cox cited Harvey Weinstein's statement in response to Lupita Nyong'o's account of the trouble she suffered at his hands as an example.“I remember all the actresses came out and said that he had assaulted them and done the things he’s accused of doing. First person he challenged was Lupita Nyong’o. A black woman.”Cox continued, “All of these other women, he didn’t say anything. He didn’t say I didn’t do it. But the first person he challenged was Lupita Nyong’o. And I think, this can’t be a coincidence.”The actress also said she couldn't help but notice how different the public's reaction to the stories of trans women seem to be. “I notice when some trans women have come forward and say that they have been sexually assaulted there has been a different tenor in terms of the ways they’ve been believed as opposed to other women who are not trans,” she said.Cox later opened up about her own experience with sexual misconduct. “The encounter was consensual but then something happened that wasn’t consensual.” She eventually confronted the man involved who she said, "had no idea his behavior was predatory, that he didn't have consent."The star went on to note that the experience made her realize the importance of explicitly explaining consent, and making sure people understand what consent really means. “We have to be really careful about the messages we’re sending to our young people of all genders about what consent is,” Cox...
This week, dozens of women from Chicago Ford plants bravely came forward to testify before the Illinois House Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Task Force regarding sexual harassment and abuse allegations, FOX 32 Chicago reports.Groping, lewd comments, retaliatory behavior and physical abuse are among the list of allegations. Many of the women claim to have lost their jobs after filing complaints."When I asked the union's plant chairman for assistance, [I was told] that if I wanted his help, I had to get down on my knees,” said Miyoshi Morris. “I was scared because I didn't know what they were going to do,” said Charmella Leviege. “It's like a doggone prison in there, who's going to stop them? Nobody is going to stop them! They have too much money and we are just like pawns.”The Center for Union Facts (CUF) produced a PSA entitled A Culture of Harassment, where the women were able to tell their own stories, according to Newsmax. In the video, the women talk about the daily struggles of being a woman at the plants from the whistling and sexual comments to offers to join married men in threesomes. One woman says that the comments began on her first day of work.In the video, the women accuse United Auto Workers union of ignoring their pleas for help, and say that the union has consistently taken the side of the alleged harassers. "I've even had one of the union officials come to me and tell me that you shouldn't report it because that's not sexual harassment if they only did it to you one time," one woman said in the PSA.This controversy isn't a new one for Ford, which paid a $10 million settlement over the harassment complaints in August 2017, and settled a similar case in 1999 by paying out $22 million. After the last payout, Ford promised to "crack down" on the unacceptable behavior, and Ford's CEO apologized to the women for the workplace harassment.Lawyer Keith Hunt is preparing a class action lawsuit against the automaker. He says that he currently has 50 women with similar allegations to the women who testified who will be participating in the suit.The women are hopeful that this increased attention will bring some change, and say that things are untenable as they stand."The whole entire place is like a cesspool. The whole entire place," one woman says in Culture of Harassment. "There's no place in there that you can get away from...
Following the Harvey Weinstein allegations, the #MeToo movement has picked up some powerful steam, even evolving into the #TimesUp initiative, which had its biggest moment to date at the 75th Golden Globes. While women have rightfully been the voice of the movement, several men in the spotlight have been asked to make comments on the matter. One particular man, Floyd Mayweather, was asked during his interview with Men's Health. The retired professional boxing champion and current professional boxing promotor talked about his retirement plans, his flighty spending habits and his virtual reality boxing game. Amongst the more frivolous questions was something more serious: sexual harassment. Having the conversation with Mayweather is especially loaded due to his many domestic violence allegations. When asked about the #MeToo movement, Mayweather initially asked, "The who?" After being told that the movement is about sexual assault/harassment, the main man behind the infamous The Money Team went on to say, "When you say 'me too' ... When somebody is like, 'I got a Rolls Royce, I be like 'me too'.' When somebody say they got a private jet, I say, 'Me too. I got two. Me too.'The interviewer accurately corrected the boxing star and said that this movement is very different from casually claiming expensive items. "Well, I didn't know! My Me Too movement from the beginning was whenever somebody said what they have I'm like, "me too." Somebody say they got a billion dollars, I say, "I made a billion dollars, me too," exclaimed Mayweather.The two went on to talk about his "sensitive side," which is when Mayweather finally spoke on the sexual harassment topic directly. "Of course. I mean, you live and you learn," Mayweather said. "I think everyone, if you're in an uncomfortable position, you have to pray about it, you know, talk about it, and I think that, you know, sexual harassment, I don't think it's cool at all."Well, okay then.You can watch the full clip...
Broadway legend Ben Vereen has become the latest actor to be accused of sexual misconduct, joining the likes of Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons and Hollywood bigwig Harvey Weinstein.In a damning report from The New York Daily News, the now 71-year-old actor is accused of attacked multiple young actresses who were in their 20s with unwanted kisses, aggressive hugging, stripping naked during an acting exercise and making inappropriate comments about their weight, sex appeal and personal lives in 2015.All of this occurred while they were part of a Venice Theatre production of Hair Vereen was directing outside of Tampa, Florida.Two of the women who came forward, Kaitlyn Terpstra (who was 22 at the time) and a woman who preferred to be only identified as Kim (who was 23) told the Daily News that Vereen invited them to his rental home in Florida on separate occasions in September of 2015 for “private rehearsals.”However, practicing acting was apparently not his intent. Instead of showing them the ropes, he pressed his erect penis into their legs without warning.According to the Daily News, the two victims stated that Vereen used the same lines to lure them, get them naked and get them into his hot tub. “He gave this whole speech about how nudity was not inherently sexual. ‘That’s not what it’s about.’ He made me feel that if I wasn’t mature enough to understand that, I wasn’t mature enough to be in Hair,” Terpstra said.“He basically told both of us, ‘Get over yourself. Nudity doesn’t have to be sexual.’ If we asked questions or hesitated, we were the ones making it weird,” Kim added.“He was acting as my mentor, asking me about my parents, then that same night, he put me on his lap while I was crying, and I felt his erection,” Terpstra said.“He asked me, ‘Feel that?’ It was terrifying. I said, 'Feel what?' I wanted to act like I didn't. I pushed myself off with a laugh. Then later, he asked, ‘Do you think I want to f*ck you?’ I said ‘Yes,’ and he got angry. He said, ‘Well, I don't, and that's unfortunate.' He made me feel like I had my mind in the gutter.”Cast members have portrayed Vereen as a manipulative opportunist.As the #MeToo movement gained steam, Terpstra posted her experience with Vereen on Facebook. Her fellow cast member Zach Wasson responded to her post, writing that he remembered vividly how unprofessional Vereen was during rehearsals. “During warmups ... he would meander through the group, totally ignoring the men, but groping and kissing on the women, ogling their bodies in a really obvious way. The women who demurred would inevitably be humiliated in the circle later,” Wasson wrote.Cast member Ariella Pizarro told the News that she was one of the women Vereen forcibly kissed.“We were in a music rehearsal, and he was just walking around, and then he walked up and kissed me on the lips. It was so weird. We all knew Hair was going to be a different kind of production, like in the 60s, but he didn't even ask first. He just kissed me. I was shocked, for sure," Pizarro said.She added, “He didn’t shove his tongue down my throat, but it gave me an uneasy feeling. Then he moved on. I didn't know what to do. From that point on, I kept myself at arm’s length with Ben.”The feeling grew worse after Vereen hugged her one night as she was leaving the theater. Later that night, she received a text from Vereen that read: "Yo [sic] felt so good tonight."An actress who asked to be called Vera told the News that when invited to Vereen's house for rehearsal, she brought two male cast members with her. Not to be denied, she said that Vereen used a pretext to get the two men to leave.Then Vereen "proceeded to wrap his arms around me and lay me down on the couch. I was shocked. I had never been in a situation like that before,” Vera said. “He kept whispering things into my ear like, ‘Relax’ and, ‘Give yourself to me.’ After the initial shock wore off I stopped his advances. He was never pleasant to me again.”Nudity is, of course, a part of Hair. The musical about hippie culture has a big nude scene that shocked audiences back when the show debuted in 1967. Vereen was in the original production of Hair from 1968 to 1967, and Terpstra and her cast mates say that the actor used that fact, and the fact that the show has a nude scene to try to normalize his inappropriate behavior.He even worked to make the cast believe that his star power and coaching would allow all of them to take the show on the road. He also promised to help the cast get into the actor's union, the Actors' Equity Association. Acceptance into that union guarantees health insurance, a set minimum wage and is seen as a major push towards a professional acting career.“He mentioned all of us getting our Equity cards. He said if we went on tour, we would all get our cards,” Kim said. “There were lots of those kinds of promises. He was painting glorious pictures.”Despite enduring hardships, in order to get those cards Kim, Terpstra and the rest of the cast carried on.That is, until the last night of rehearsal. In November of 2015, Vereen allegedly made offensive comments to Terpstra in front of the whole the cast as they got on their robes in preparation for the big nude scene.“[My robe] was very short," Terpstra said. "I had mine on, I was one of the last ones to grab a robe, and he said in front of several members of the cast, 'Yours is very short. Everyone will see your cooter, not that everyone hasn't seen it anyway.' I got really mad."A few moments later, Vereen went up to her and asked if she had an issue with him. Terpstra said she'd had enough, and yelled, "“Don't ever flirt with me again!"She said that Vereen brushed it off by replying, "Flirt with you? Why would anyone want to flirt with you?," before telling her to follow him into the hall, where she says a heated argument began.“He backed me against the wall," Terpstra said. "I started to walk away and he grabbed my arm so hard, it made a slapping noise,” she recalled, adding that when he grabbed her, she yelled, “Don’t f*cking touch me.”Cast member Brian Finnerty collaborated Terpstra's story, adding that the cast could hear almost every word.“‘Don't f*cking touch me!' and 'I said get off!' were comments I heard from Terpstra against Vereen as he was trying to put his hands on her,” Finnerty said. The theater's executive director, Murray Chase, was finally called in to break up the altercation. When telling him her side of the story, Terpstra said she is pretty sure she only mentioned the forced kisses. Chase attended the final dress rehearsal after she told him this, but told the News that until recently, he'd thought that there had only been an isolated kissing incident. “While we were aware of an altercation between Ben Vereen and Ms. Terpstra, we have now learned of additional situations,” he said. “We are working to strengthen our sexual harassment policies and procedures, including the reporting of them, to prevent any future occurrences.”The theater has paid for Kim and Terpstra to receive counselling; both had said they can no longer act thanks to Vereen's actions.She said Chase had to step in, walking with her outside and listening as she sobbed. Terpstra said she’s not sure exactly what she told him, but she thinks she mentioned at least one forced kiss. She said Chase later sat in on the final dress rehearsal, but Vereen was not banned from the building.For his part, Vereen made no effort to deny the allegations, as some, like Simmons, have done. Instead Vereen told The Daily News that he did bad things, but that he has grown in the two years since the incidents occurred. “I would like to apologize directly to the female cast members of the musical Hair for my inappropriate conduct when I directed the production in 2015,” he said. “While it was my intention to create an environment that replicated the themes of that musical during the rehearsal process, I have since come to understand that it is my conduct, not my intentions, which are relevant here.” To this, Vereen added, “Going forward, my having come to terms with my past conduct will inform all my future interactions not only with women, but with all individuals. I hope these women will find it in their hearts to accept my sincere apology and forgive...
Hollywood has certainly been shaken since the sexual assault claims against Harvey Weinstein have been released, and the initial New York Times report has quickly picked up steam as more and more members of Hollywood elite step forward. Recently, Terry Crews took to Twitter to share his own account of sexual assault after being moved by the many stories coming to light in connection with the Weinstein allegations, according to Vulture. In the series of 16 tweets, Crews recounts an incident that involved an unnamed Hollywood executive groping his genitals while at an industry party last year. Naturally, he wanted to react, but instantly knew the ramifications of such actions as a black man — and a very large one at that. He envisioned the hypothetical headline, “240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho.” This whole thing with Harvey Weinstein is giving me PTSD. Why? Because this kind of thing happened to ME. (1/Cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017My wife n I were at a Hollywood function last year n a high level Hollywood executive came over 2 me and groped my privates. (2/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017Jumping back I said What are you doing?! My wife saw everything n we looked at him like he was crazy. He just grinned like a jerk. (3/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017I was going to kick his ass right then— but I thought twice about how the whole thing would appear. (4/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017“240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho” would be the headline the next day. (5/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017Only I probably wouldn’t have been able to read it because I WOULD HAVE BEEN IN JAIL. So we left. (6/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017That night and the next day I talked to everyone I knew that worked with him about what happened. (7/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017He called me the next day with an apology but never really explained why he did what he did. (8/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017I decided not 2 take it further becuz I didn’t want 2b ostracized— par 4 the course when the predator has power n influence. (9/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017I let it go. And I understand why many women who this happens to let it go. (10/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017Who’s going 2 believe you? ( few) What r the repercussions?(many) Do u want 2 work again? (Yes) R you prepared 2b ostracized?(No)(11/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017I love what I do. But it’s a shame and the height of disappointment when someone tries to takes advantage of that. (12/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017He knows who he is. But sumtimes Uhav2 wait & compare notes w/ others who’ve been victimized in order 2gain a position of strength. (13cont)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017I understand and empathize with those who have remained silent. But Harvey Weinstein is not the only perpetrator. (14/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017Hollywood is not the only business we’re this happens, and to the casualties of this behavior— you are not alone. (15/cont.)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017Hopefully, me coming forward with my story will deter a predator and encourage someone who feels hopeless. (16/end)— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017Overall, Crews' brave tweets were in total solidarity of those victims who have experienced something similar, whether that be in Hollywood or otherwise. “Hollywood is not the only business where this happens, and to the casualties of this behavior — you are not...
The network has been slammed with sexual harassment and racial discrimination claims and it’s certainly warranting a bunch of side-eyes.This time the alleged culprit is Making Money host Charles Payne.The Los Angeles Times reports that Payne has been suspended due to a former female colleague’s sexual harassment claims against him.According to Payne, he and a political analyst were involved in what Payne calls a “romantic relationship” for about three years.“We take issues of this nature extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy for any professional misconduct,” a Fox Business Network spokesman told the Times. “This matter is being thoroughly investigated and we are taking all of the appropriate steps to reach a resolution in a timely manner.”Payne, a Wall Street financial analyst, has been a Fox Business Network employee since its launch in 2006. The Huffington Post has identified Payne's accuser as Scottie Nell Hughes.Payne claims that the relationship was consensual, and admitted to having cheated on his wife with Hughes this week.Hughes, on the other hand, claims that the relationship was not consensual, and that she was threatened with reprisals should she choose not to sleep with Payne. She chose to go ahead with the affair because she believed being in it was necessary if wanted a permanent spot at Fox.However, Hughes says that when she put an end to the affair, she found that her screen time dwindled. Hughes says she tried to discuss the matter with both Payne and former Fox News executive Bill Shine, but found her efforts to be in vain.Payne's suspension comes after allegations of sexual harassment were brought against former Fox News boss Roger Ailes. Former Fox poster boy Bill O'Reilly was also forced out of the network after it was revealed that he had a history of sexual harassment claims being brought against him. A Fox Sports executive, Jamie Horowitz, was fired this week due to sexual harassment complaints.This is definitely a mess in a myriad of ways. We’ll make sure to keep everyone posted on further...
Editor's note: Jade Brockman is a pen name. Trigger warning: Sexual assault
There are some days when I struggle to believe I have the right to say I was sexually assaulted. In the very few conversations I’ve had, I find myself trying to downplay it, as if throwing an adjective in front of it will somehow lessen the pain or the shame. “A few months ago I was…” my voice trailed off, “I was…mi—” The voice in my head wanted to force my mouth to say “minorly” sexually assaulted as if this is a grievance whose severity should be treated like a burn—first degree, second degree, third…
It can not. It must not. Minorly isn’t even a word. And so, I forced myself to say it. I paused. Paused again, took a deep breath and said that I was sexually assaulted. The more I talked about it, the more my voice waivered. The details of the situation brought back unease. Guilt. Shame.
It was a Friday night.
I found myself in the Brooklyn apartment of a man I met a few months prior in D.C. I’d let him know that I’d be coming to New York and he asked if he could take me out on a date. I obliged. We went to lunch. We talked. Smiled. Laughed. He examined my figure from somewhat of a distance (he looked at my butt when I stood up to walk to the bathroom and then made a comment about it when I returned. I forced a smile). He made an advance in the elevator. I allowed him to kiss me. To let his hands grace below my waist. We hung out for a few hours more and then parted ways.
“Well yeah, let me know if you want to meet up later,” he said.
I was planning to meet one of my best friends at an art show in Brooklyn. Afterward, she wanted to drag me to L.E.S., but I had somewhere to be early in the morning. I told her I might hang out with this guy a bit more.
“So are you calling me an Uber…?” I texted him.
He said he would. The Uber pulled up outside of his apartment. It was a modest studio. You could hear the dancehall music bursting through the walls of the club next door. The bed sat in a little cove behind the couch and down the hall was the bathroom and what I assumed to be a kitchen somewhere. We sat. He offered me some Hennessy.
“Have you seen Master of None?” I asked.
I’d watched seven episodes on the bus ride up to New York. He hadn’t. We turned it on. He tried kissing me again. I went with it for a moment and then pulled back. I wasn’t trying to sit on his couch making out. Three episodes later, he asked if he could tell me something.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I really want to taste you,” he said.
I can’t tell you what my face looked like at that moment. Perhaps surprised. Disappointed that this is what it had come to yet again.
“Nahh,” I said. “I’d like to take things slow.”
I suggested we turn some music on. I tried to start up some small talk.
“So tell me about your past relationships,” I asked.
He shared a bit about an ex or two of his. I continued to nod and sip my Hennessy. I don’t remember if I shared any of my experiences with exes.
“Come lay with me,” he said.
I was irritated. I want to think that I said, “Nahh, I’m good,” again but at some point, we ended up in his bed. And then, he slipped my panties off. And began to eat me out. I did not say no. I admit, I am a sucker for head. There was a moment when I eased up and closed my eyes and laid my head back on the pillow. Then, it happened.
I felt him inside of me without even so much as a, “Can I…?”
My entire body jerked away from his.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” I demanded, kicking him out of me.
Cue the classic line of a privileged offender.
“I thought you wanted it,” he said.
“You didn’t even ask!” I said.
I don't remember what was said next. I remember obliging to have sex three times.
At one point, he said, “I want you to think about me in the cab the whole ride home.”
I still roll my eyes at that line. Who says that?
It was late. I decided I needed to leave. I made him call me another Uber back to my friend’s apartment. It felt like quite possibly the longest ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan I’d ever experienced.
I stared out the window hoping that the scenes passing by could somehow distract me from the last few confounding hours of my life.
The next day, he texted saying he couldn’t make it to the event I was speaking at.
“Ok,” I replied.
On Sunday, he asked how the play that I went to see with my father was.
“It was good,” I said.
On Monday, I texted him:
"In thinking about the time I spent with you this weekend, what sticks with me most is that:
1) You slid in raw without consent. (Eating me out does not equal automatic consent for sex; also, classic example of male privilege).
2) I’ve not heard from you since Saturday. To me, it seems as though the lunch date + hanging out was just a gateway to get me somewhat comfortable with you in order to get me alone at your apartment. Yes, I chose to come over. Yes, I eventually consented to sex, but I am left questioning your motives and sincerity. Lines like, “I want you think about me the entire cab ride home,” say to me that you are more concerned about good dick than a good impression. Like seriously, who says that? (Also, male privilege/machismo again).
It’s like time and time again I try to give “nice guys” a chance but the physical seems to supersede any real chance for anything else. There was no “taking it slow” from you. I am reminded why I don’t even bother with dates because it can rarely remain just that—a date. Perhaps it is my fault. Perhaps I should’ve left it at lunch but I like to think of myself as a woman who does not date for free meals.
I am not distraught, heartbroken or “in my feelings.” I am getting this off my chest because it’s been on my mind."
"Hey, what’s up Jade. Few things:
I apologize for going in raw in the moment. Just curious, why aren’t you bringing up my male privilege as it relates to me eating you out?
I said, “come over if you’d like, if not, no worries, just let me know,”—you decided to come over Jade. I was chilling in my robe watching 'Law and Order' lol. I just thought we had a dope day just kicking it and talking."
"I could’ve also tacked male privilege to you saying that to me while we were watching TV, you saying no & then you trying again on your bed…but didn’t feel the need to pick out every instance."
"Wow. Just wow. Now I have male privilege. The revisionist history here is crazy. If you wanna chalk up YOU deciding to have sex with me to male privilege be my guest. Unlike you, I’ll take the L and won’t blame my actions on anybody else.
If you still want to be friends, cool. I’d love that. If my male privilege scarred you or left a bad taste in your mouth and you’d like to put distance btwn us, I understand that as well."
It is my conviction that far too many men don't know how to take no for an answer.
“No,” to his first advance translated to him as, “No, not now, but you can ask me again in a few minutes. Just keep asking till she gets tired of saying no. Till she has a few more drinks. Till she gets tired of putting up a fight. Till you can slip in.”
I remember feeling relieved when my period came. I did not allow him to finish inside of me, but regardless, we had unprotected sex. I thought about texting him to let him know. Why would he even care? I hadn’t heard from him since our last text exchange.
I don't remember telling anyone about what happened. I think I was still coming to terms with it myself. I blamed myself for even going on the date in the first place. “If you hadn’t, none of this would have happened,” the little voice inside my head said. I think I might have been in shock. Did that actually happen? Was I actually sexually assaulted? Was it “enough” to say so?
Then I remembered that 80% of rape and sexual assaults occur among people who know each other.
I struggled to believe that I’d become a statistic. That night, he didn't verbally ask for my consent to have sex. Consent requires a person to ask another person permission to perform a sexual act and for that person to verbally give permission for it to happen while being fully conscious, un-coerced, of age, and not intoxicated in any way (no drugs, no alcohol). In California, sexual assault is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex, or even slight penetration (including with an object) without the other person's consent.
When he verbally told me he wanted to eat me out, I said no. He wore me down until he had his way.
Now some of you all may be thinking that there’s no way in hell I could have the audacity to complain about that night because we ended up having sex not one, not two, but three times. I get it. Sounds crazy. Why did I have sex with him? Why didn’t I just, at that very moment, put my clothes back on and leave? Why did I stay?
I can't count the number of times I've asked myself those questions over and over and over again. I still don’t know the answer. Perhaps I lacked the courage to do so. Perhaps I didn’t want to “make it awkward.” Perhaps I didn’t respect myself enough to stop the situation, right then and there. I am realizing that the answers to the questions I’ve repeatedly asked myself over the past few months do not matter.
No means no. It does not mean later. It does not mean rephrase your question. It does not mean you can instead try to just a hit a home run because you couldn’t make it to second base.
Men can no longer be allowed to redefine "no." They will guilt you until you give in and then become outraged and convince you it’s your fault. They will rape women like you and have fathers whose plea is asking if “20 minutes of action is really worth ruining” his precious son’s life. "No" is a complete sentence.
I saw the guy again in New York for a brief moment while at his job. In the deli around the corner, he asked if he could kiss me. I said no.
“Why?” he asked, “Is it because you don’t want to mess up your makeup?”
"No" still apparently is not good enough.
“Yeah,” I said, and left it like that.
I did not have the energy to yell. To explain to him that no is a complete sentence. That he shouldn’t even have asked in the first place. That doing so just might remind him of his male privilege and the alleged “revisionist history” he thought I attempted to create.
I am thankful that I don't have physical scars from this. That I can still give birth and I didn't have to take Plan B or that he didn't forcibly make me have sex with him. I am not quite yet free of the guilt and remorse.
I think of women just like me whose "no"s were not good enough and instead turned into screams, cries for help, abortions, miscarriages or funerals. There is a particular burden we carry as women, one that can neither be fully articulated nor understood. That burden is called survival.
My name is Jade Brockman, and I am a survivor of sexual assault.
Here's RAINN's (Rape, Abuse and Insult National Network) State Law Database: https://apps.rainn.org/policy/
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE
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It’s after midnight. I’m in the living room of a Queens, NY apartment, feeling pretty great — and it isn’t just because I have a good buzz going. I’ve been in New York City only a couple of months, but I already feel like I belong, like there's space for me. What I couldn’t find in college (even with all my studying abroad) I finally found here through black revolutionary literature, like-minded people, and organizations that combined the two.
A month or so before this, I tagged along with two friends, Erica and Max, to a conference on police brutality in the Bronx. The speakers and most attendees were people of color, the men didn’t talk over the women, we stated our gender pronouns before every session and covered intersectionality without someone having to complain first. I felt completely empowered.
The main organizers talked about stop-and-frisk, their patrols around the most affected neighborhoods and the “Know Your Rights” trainings they hold for community members. I love long theoretical conversations as much as the next “woke” person, but there’s nothing like direct action. It’s even better when that action is done alongside people you feel good about standing next to. I joined immediately.
I got put on the Jackson Heights patrol with Erica and Max. Soon enough, we were spending almost every day together.
Patrol positions rotate, but I always end up with a camera. At first I don’t say why, but later I let them know: I feel too intimidated to talk to police on behalf of the whole group in a potentially heated situation, and I flat out refuse to hand out the informational cards. The men on the streets far outweigh the women. Worse yet, there are seemingly endless bars, and since most patrols are on weekend nights, a lot of these men are drunk. I don’t like to talk to men I don’t know, let alone random groups of potentially drunk ones.
I don’t want to hand them a card. A card might be interpreted as an invitation, just like a smile, or eye contact, or ears without visible headphones, or even just being in public is often interpreted as an invitation. Hitting on me will likely only lead to anger when I reject their advances.
But my patrol was understanding. I was so happy to have found this place.
It’s after midnight. I’m in the living room of a Queens, NY apartment, and Erica, Max and I are drinking with another member of the patrol, Charlie. After every patrol, we regroup at our patrol leader’s place and debrief. Since it’s Saturday night and we all enjoy each other’s company, we decided to stay awhile.
Our patrol leader jokes that she’s getting old and goes to bed, but doesn’t kick us out. We carry on drinking and laughing. Charlie's on the couch next me, sitting closer than expected, but I don’t feel uncomfortable. It feels friendly, without ulterior motives.
We’re out of alcohol, so Erica and Max volunteer to make a trip to the store. In their absence, I’m half rambling to Charlie and half watching an episode of The Boondocks. Charlie is partly entertaining my rambles but mostly trying to get his arm around me to pull me in closer.
Our position looks a little less friendly now.
I try to focus my attention on Erica and Max when they return, but all of Charlie's attention is on me. He even follows me to the kitchen when I say I need some ice. Now he is definitely hitting on me, trying to put his arms around me and kiss. He has me backed into a corner and keeps moving in front of me when I try to leave.
I tell him I don’t want this several times, but he just won’t listen.
I finally get out from under him and back on the couch with Erica. Charlie forces his way between us. I don’t like it, but I don’t want to make a scene.
Max is out of the room, and Charlie keeps trying to kiss me despite my telling him to stop and pushing him away. I’m honestly surprised by his strength. Erica tells him to stop, but he puts his hand in her face to shut her up. He rubs his hands on my legs and tries to reach between them. I get up, but I feel so awkward and stuck. I don’t want to draw any more attention to myself. Max returns, and Erica suggests we head out since it’s past sunrise now anyway.
On our way to the door, Charlie follows me and tries to talk. Max tells him to chill out, and he does. My persistent “no,” and the “stop” from Erica didn’t register, but the “hey, chill out” of a fellow man is worth taking into consideration. What a man says has power.
In the building’s elevator, Erica and Max ask me if I’m alright. I say I’m fine, of course, but all I want to do is get home as fast as possible. I feel awkward, embarrassed and guilty, like I brought this on myself.
Erica decides to tell our patrol leader what happened, and they want to have a group meeting to address the situation. I almost don’t know what “situation” she's referring to. It takes me a second to view that night’s events as something that matters and another few seconds to process that they aren’t blaming me.
At the meeting, I emphasize that without the others choosing to address this situation, I would have just faded away. I would have made excuses for missing patrols until they stopped asking, just so Charlie couldn’t make me feel awkward and unsafe. I say I shouldn’t be the one who has to leave. I wasn’t hurting anyone or hurting our cause.
I ask how we can seriously recruit women from the area, maybe even as young as high school students, if we can’t even assure their safety on the patrol.
Sure, there are risks involved in this sort of direct action work. We could arrive at a stop-and-frisk where the police are irritated and the situation escalates out of control. But that is a calculated risk that we choose to take. We choose to face the police to make communities of color safer.
In the case of our community patrols, who will keep women safe from the men?
I recall for them the most recent harassment I witnessed on a patrol, where a young woman walked along confidently until a group of guys made lewd comments, and she left with her shoulders slumped, fighting her sweater to cover her butt. Half-jokingly at the meeting, I suggest the patrols start filming the men on street and taking action against them.
I tell Charlie that reading Assata’s book and knowing bell hooks don't mean anything if he is going to go against everything they say.
He hadn’t even looked at me the whole meeting, but now I seem to have sparked his interest. I bruised his ego, and now he is mad. The meeting comes to no conclusions, but he is asked to leave for an undetermined amount of time and will be connected with another man who works with young men around these issues.
If and when police become eradicated altogether and replaced with some sort of community-based safety approach, who will keep women in the community safe?
With the police gone, men of color can walk the streets freely and confidently instead of constantly looking over their shoulder and trying to make their appearance somehow not invite harassment.
But what about the...