#MeToo

December 01, 2017 2 Comments

With the deluge of daily assault charges, and in solidarity with so many of my beloved dolls who’ve endured much worse than I have, I’ll share a few Me Too incidents beginning with the most recent. I was at a huge rockin’ bash a few years back when I noticed the supposed comedian, Andy Dick making a swift bee-line for me, a skewed bug-eyed smirk on his face. The next instant I felt his hands squeezing my breasts and groin hard and fast before he darted back into the crowd and disappeared. Stunned, I just stood there, horrified and fuming. I had no say in the matter and had been assaulted by a stranger who believed he had the right to put his hands all over me. And there was nothing I could have done to retaliate. I wish that was the only incident like that, but…

       I was close to turning fourteen when a real live band started rehearsing in a garage across the street from my house on Jamieson Avenue. Already obsessed musically, I was delighted when these ravishing ebony-haired beauties allowed me and my friends to goggle them as they sang and played their shimmering, sparkling guitars on my very street in Reseda. I soon became close friends with the niece of the bass player, so when she invited me to visit her family up North in San Mateo for the weekend, I jumped at the chance for a sleep-away trip. I don't remember much about that weekend away from home, except for the heady pungent smells of Indonesian cooking, the closeness of the beds in the room where I slept with Trudy and her little brother, Raymond, and the pre-dawn morning, when Trudy’s large eared, pock-marked father whispered for me to get out of bed to come say Good-bye before he left for work. I was half asleep, and all was quiet as I tip-toed down the stairs in my shortie pajamas to meet this trusted patriarch of the family. Under half-lidded eyes, wearing just a t-shirt and undershorts, he pulled me onto his lap and began to rock me back and forth like I was a little baby, crooning in a foreign language, smoothing my hair, cooing and inhaling my innocence like a vampire. All was eerily silent in the house except for his heavy breathing; the tick tick tick of a wall clock counting the scary moments until he finally slid me off his lap and told me to go back upstairs to sleep. Confused, I felt somehow dirtied, ashamed and wronged – he had taken something intangible, invisible and invaluable from me. As I waited for the sun to come up, I vowed never to wear those shortie pajamas again.

      What I didn’t know then was that it wasn’t about my shortie pajamas. It was about abusing power. And a few years later I fancied myself an actress and was overjoyed when I got a call from a “manager” I’d sent my headshots to, in hopes of getting signed. The actor-cum- manager, Marty Ingels invited me to his snazzy Bev Hills home, where he promised to give me a coming out party on a boat and make me a star. Whoooeeee! I should have known there was trouble afoot when his stepson, a very young Shawn Cassidy asked me what the heck I was doing there, and warned me to get out fast. My third meeting with Mr. Ingels proved to be the last when he said all I had to do to attain certain stardom was to pleasure him – “how about a little head?” since his lovely wife, Shirley Jones was away performing on Broadway. “And a man has needs,” he said, slip-sliding way too close for comfort. Even though he didn’t force himself on me, I felt like I’d been sucker punched in the pussy.

        I could go on, but suffice to say I’ve had my share of stiff dicks with no brains. And when I was younger, being groped and pinched was just something women believed they had to put up with on a regular basis. But it’s a brava new world out there, dolls. Thanks to Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and so many others who are stepping out of the shadows of shame, shouting the truth, especially about men in power. I’ve long known the casting couch is real, and, sadly, there are casting couches everywhere, not just in show biz. But courage is contagious, and the domino effect is real too. If women (and sometimes men) who have been accosted keep shining their light on the horrors-that-be, the dominoes will continue to fall.

     In my New York writing workshop last night I gave a #MeToo assignment and several women agreed that they felt the sexual abuse had somehow been their fault, or they’d been complicit, even though they’d fought against the assault, and loudly said “No.” It was heartbreaking, and nothing could be further from the truth.

     It’s indeed an incredible time for the women who are rising up, feeling the freedom to share their tales of predatory abuse, and finally being listened to. The movement reminds me of the wave that happens spontaneously at sports events and concerts. Only this is a wave that won’t be stopped. It seems that every day another brave doll fearlessly steps into the spotlight, speaking up and speaking out. But sadly, almost every woman I know has experienced a similar horror story… It’s been a long time coming, but here we are, dolls, and to quote one of my heroes, Sam Cooke, a change is is gonna come…

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2 Responses

Amy
Amy

January 14, 2018

To open up, repeat, relive these things…I have never felt safe. I’m grateful that the women who have done so have had the safe place and love of a group of understanding women. A network. For me, it will most likely go with me to the grave. How proud I am of those who have stood up. Who have said "hey maybe it wasn’t my fault! ". I pray I will get there too. My love and admiration to you all.

Terry Henderson
Terry Henderson

December 08, 2017

Miss Pamela is the teacher of my weekly writing class in Los Angeles. As a former public school teacher of high school English, I become more and more in awe after each class at her ability to reach us all….especially, we who have been abused very EARLY in our lives in ways that have affected our ENTIRE lives. I’ve buried my hideous secret for over fifty years….I’ve tried to share it, but then I fear recrimination and pull back. Her class is my safety zone of like-minded people regardless of age, ethnicity, marital status, gender preference, whatever. You get it….she provides sanctuary for us all with no judgment.
For 47 years, I kept my secret—-a secret that entailed my rape by people I knew. I was ashamed and shamed and I blamed myself. My mind split from my body…I almost remember the very moment when it did as I looked down on my assailants who were taking turns raping me—the old “gang bang”—gang rape. I was 14…3 years earlier, I had this out of body experience when I had a drowning accident in which I was pronounced dead. I learned to live and function in my numbness, but my personal relationships especially of the sexual variety took a big hit. I was paralyzed; I got in the car with my sister’s best friend’s brother….how was I to know that he would drive to a very deserted graveyard surrounded by strip pits—-the deep canyon like crevices left in the land after coal mining had ravished the land? The huge steam shovels dug and carved so deeply into the earth to mine the coal that they reached the water beneath. They saved the tombstones some of which were from the early 18th century and piled them around a big tree on a tiny island of land all alone in this moonlike territory.
To reach this site, one had to take a very narrow country road. As we arrived, I saw another car and out jumped four other guys…my head buzzing, I got out of the car……I had no clue as to what to do….In my mind, I mythify my past and that distance began there as I looked down on myself as three of the four boys raped me (although, I didn’t really resist which is why I could never reconcile the rape with myself—-I just lay there , limp with fear I suppose but I couldn’t even feel that). I was ME and I was the one who watched THAT WHICH HAD BECOME NOT REALLY ME. I remember thinking exactly that….this is not happening to me and I shut off feeling from that moment on. It’s physically painful to never really be able to physically let go. I lost my innocence, my childhood, my confidence…..and I began to feel self-loathing….many years of troubled addictive behavior began, although I always retained my curiosity about learning new things which was my salvation. I attended Oberlin College on an academic scholarship and my life changed as people seemed to like me for myself.
I still have great difficulty in believing that anyone could REALLY like me…..In Pamela’s class, I am FINALLY ABLE TO TELL MY STORY WITHOUT FEAR OF JUDGEMENT AND RECRIMINATION AND FINALLY BELIEVE THAT I TOO AM WORTHY. I know that I am a survivor, not a victim, but I have never really forgiven myself until now. I am not the only one in our class who has experienced rape—-and, I’ve only recently begun to see it that way myself because I seem to have the curse of forgiving others when I hold myself to such a high standard. I believed that I was in some way guilty because I got in the car—never mind that I had such a big crush on this guy who told me just the night before when I lost my virginity to him that I would be his girlfriend etc….such silly stuff looking back but such a big deal when all I wanted was to be loved. She is our ANGEL—not because she has been with gorgeous rock gods—-but because she loves us and we feel that love. Pamela’s love touches us all so that we are able to heal and share and feel blessed that she cares.
JUDGEMENT AND RECRIMINATION AND FINALLY BELIEVE THAT I TOO AM WORTHY. I know that I am a survivor, not a victim but I have never really forgiven myself until now. I am not the only one in our class who has experienced rape—-and, I’ve only recently begun to see it that way myself because I seem to have the curse of forgiving others when I hold myself to such a high standard. I believed that I was in some way guilty because our feelings and find that we are not alone. She is our ANGEL—not because she has been with gorgeous rock gods—-but because she loves us and we feel that. I got in the car—never mind that I had such a big crush on this guy who told me just the night before when I lost my virginity to him that I would be his girlfriend etc….such silly stuff looking back but such a big deal when all I wanted was to be loved.

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