Songs for the Struggling Artist


What to Do When Weinstein Shows Up at the Bar

When I read about the three people who challenged Harvey Weinstein at a show for young artists, I tried to imagine what I would have done if I’d walked in to an event and found him there. I hope I’d have been as brave as Kelly Bachman, Zoe Stuckless and Amber Rollo but I don’t know.

Would I be the first person to say something to him? Probably not. I’m not particularly confrontational. But I would have, I’m fairly certain, created a hex on the spot and I would have quietly but forcefully cast some kind of spell. I’m not a witch – but I think I’d just become one if I were put in a room with a monster.

What I do know I would have done if I were in the room with the repugnant Weinstein and the heroic three, what I do know is, that I’d have backed them the fuck up. I hope I would have been a first follower – as Derek Sivers put it in his video. Watch it. It’s great. It’s all about how the first person to exhibit anomalous behavior can be seen as a weirdo or pariah when they break the norms. When the first guy starts dancing, it’s weird. It could go nowhere. It probably will. But then someone comes and joins him and that someone basically starts the movement. That first follower teaches others how to follow and invites them in. Before long everyone is dancing.

In order to change rape culture, we don’t all have to be as brave as Bachman, Stuckless and Rollo (though lord knows I wish we could be) but we do all have to get better at backing brave people up. We need to be first followers.

That story would have gone a lot differently if the room had supported those women. If Kelly Bachman, the comedian, had been cheered more robustly instead of booed (she was cheered but only after having been booed!) or if the others came to stand behind and beside those who confronted Weinstein instead of trying to pull them out of the room, we could have had a story about how the people of New York just won’t stand for predators instead of a story about just three brave humans.

It’s clear that, fundamentally, not much has changed in the culture if women challenging a known rapist, harasser and predator are booed and kicked out of a club for doing so. They should have been supported. The room should have rioted as soon as Weinstein walked in. But it didn’t. Social norms took over and (almost) everyone decided that politeness was more important than anything else.

The people who confronted him broke the social norm of politeness and since there was no first follower, the room expressed its disapproval and spit them out.

What was needed in that room (besides Weinstein just simply not being there) was a First Follower. Someone to bring the room along, to maybe get a chant going after Bachman’s set.

Maybe a “Remove the Elephant from the Room” or “Rape whistle! Rape Whistle! Toot toot toot!” And just scream it until Weinstein gets his predatory ass up out of that cushy booth and hightails it out of there.

It’s not a surprise that this particular room was the way it was. In other places, Weinstein might have been booed the minute he walked in the door (as he should be) but there is not a more malleable sycophantic population than a bunch of show people trying to make it in The Business. In this particular room, everyone but the three women decided that they’d rather have Weinstein see their work, maybe even give them a gig, than deal with his problematic presence. I know that many people sitting there were thinking, “Sure, he’s a horrifying monster but maybe he can put me in a movie!” That’s how he was able to get away with so much for so long in the first place.

But some things are most important than politeness and the people who challenged him knew it. Unfortunately, the rest of the room did not and they will probably live with the shame of that for some time. They’re going to wish they’d stood up and joined in. They’re going to wish they’d been a First Follower, rather than part of that shameful crowd.

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Excuse me, Ma’am

The man in an oxford shirt came up behind me at the narrow passage of the café and did not stop moving as he said, “Excuse me, ma’am” and walked on, scrolling through his phone.

I muttered, “Don’t you ma’am me,” after he passed but what I really wanted to do was set him on fire with my magical fire-shooting ability.

I know the offense was minor and he probably only called me ma’am because there’s no feminine equivalent to sir and even though it sounds like “Outta my way, old lady” to me, he thinks he’s being respectful and at least he didn’t say, “Move, bitch,” and I should be grateful for even an attempt at politeness. But maybe if I combusted enough people for calling me ma’am, we could finally find a respectful word for women instead of limping by with miss and ma’am and madam since forever. Sometimes it takes a little fire.

I want a fire shooting power or a spontaneous combustion ability or to just truly access my dragon self and be able to gobble up those that displease me. I am so weary of conceding and getting out of the way and I don’t want to make a mess but I do want to obliterate my enemies.

The thing is, though, even if I woke up with such a superpower tomorrow, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t use it. If I got a skein, like the women in Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary book, The Power, I don’t think I’d go on a mad electrocuting spree. I think I would probably keep it to myself – but I sure would feel a lot better knowing I could do it.

If I had, in my back pocket, the power to vanquish a world of enemies, I might be a little more apt to speak my mind at a meeting or on the street or in the passageways of small cafes where boys feel they own the throughways. I might not mutter, “Don’t you ma’am me.” I might say it loud. I might let it resonate and hang dangerously over the air, as the power danced around my fingertips. And we could all feel the electricity I was keeping in store, what energy I was using to NOT combust someone.

My anger had abated somewhat after the fetid air of the Kavanaugh hearings cleared a little – or maybe my anger just went underground these last few months. Eventually, it seemed, I did not long to combust every man I saw. But the recent spate of attacks on reproductive justice have begun to once again stir the dragon I have within and I am longing to actually be as dangerous as I feel. Don’t ma’am me. You might not mean anything by it. But I’m not sure what I’ll do. You just better hope my magic hasn’t grown in yet.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can listen to me read this one on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help me grow some magic?

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

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