How Have You Harassed Me? Let Me Count The Ways…

I was 9-years-old the first time I was sexually assaulted. It was a friendly neighborhood barber who felt me up on the pretense of seeing how much I weighed – he did this after leading me into in a back room whose walls were papered with hardcore porn. I shudder to think what might have happened had a customer not walked in just then and allowed me to escape, heart pounding and sure I had done something wrong.

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I was mercilessly teased about my breasts throughout my teens by schoolmates, strangers and colleagues. I was absolutely scarred from years of cruel mocking about my tiny breasts which were as much a function of my build as they were my mother starving me so I would keep getting booked on print work.

“You’re a pirates dream! A sunken chest!” “Mark likes you. Mark C. Bloom (a So Cal tire store) likes all flats!” “Carpenters love you – you’re flat as a board!” “Hey moon-tan! Didja leave your tits at home?” “You’re part of the itty-bitty-titty club!!” And on and on and on. I’ve been handed band-aids to use as a bra and had men come up and feel my back because “I’m looking to see if your titties are coming out the back! The gotta be somewhere” Yes – it’s been a real laugh riot having men tell me my bewbs aren’t quite big enough to sooth their mommy issues.

A make-up man I thought quite highly of had a daily joke of looking down my shirt, seeing how flat I was and stuffing 2 tissues in to plump things up. The cast and crew thought that was high comedy.

It wasn’t all jokes about my breasts, though. In high school there was the English teacher who took to giving me shoulder rubs and trying to look down my blouse, small as my breasts were. I wasn’t special, though, he did that for all the white girls and I’d been warned. No young woman ever put herself alone with him willingly.

There was the douche-bag History teacher who refused to give me a higher grade than the captain of the basketball team – even though I’d gotten more answers correct on my tests. “It will never happen,” Mr. Vanderveer said huffily, looking down his nose, “I will *never* give a girl a higher grade than a boy.” Even my beloved music teacher wouldn’t let me try out for drum major – because I was a girl. Since I knew how to twirl a baton I was welcome to put on a skimpy leotard and be eye candy – but, no position of power for females was offered. I stuck with my sax, instead, preferring to be a mediocre musician to an object to be ogled.

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No girls allowed in Pop Warner or Little League (unless it was a fantasy commercial) – but I could be a pom-pom girl if I wanted! No girls allowed to deliver papers or take shop classes. No girls allowed to serve the alter in Catholic mass – yeah… Scratch that. Talk about a blessing in disguise.

I was in the first group of girls allowed to play an instrument in the Los Angeles Police Department Junior Band. Previous to that the only way females could participate was if they were twirling flags and sashaying, while sporting white go-go boots. Meanwhile the guys were playing music and styling in sharp military-style uniforms. We gals sure were welcomed warmly in that here-to-fore all-male marching band and symphony orchestra paid for by the tax dollars of the citizens of Los Angeles. Wait – no we weren’t. We were hazed and resented for ‘forcing your way where you don’t belong’. Officer Horde actually laughed when I asked if he thought I might try out for Drum Major someday. I was beginning to see a pattern.

 

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As a teen in the 70s I spent summers in New York City doing print and commercial work. I nearly changed my name to ‘Mira!!’ from all the men hollering it at me from every construction site I passed, them grabbing their flaccid penises and making disgusting sucking-kissy noises at the clearly under-age girl.

 

Serious Question: Has yelling, “I want you to suck my big cock” from a passing car ever worked for any man in the history of time? Do they think screaming ‘Show us your tits’ will actually reveal to them nipples and areolas? Of course the clear corollary to that fallacy is that SO many men think telling women they aren’t fuckable is some kind of kryptonite that will kill us. It’s beyond their scope that we aren’t all waiting breathlessly to have our bodies validated by a stranger’s desire to have sex with us.

 

I grew up in an era of unwilling Title IX accommodations, and outright hostility at those women who wanted equality or free agency. Men called feminists ‘bra burners’ and despised those who would exercise their right choose to terminate a pregnancy they could not or did not want to take to term. Men winked and nodded at each other over women’s heads about our so-called intelligence and proficiency, and while we insisted, “I’m RIGHT HERE” they nodded condescendingly and said, “Sure you are, Sugar Tits. Now, isn’t that cute?”

 

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I was raped at age 16 by a person in a position of power – these are all the details I’m willing to share now, and it is still my story to tell someday. Suffice to say the highlight of the experience was after hearing the man would face no charges, I sought solace from a priest who looked me square in the eye and said, “You must search deeply and ask yourself, “What did I do to bring this upon myself?’ and then ask forgiveness from the Lord.”

What did *I* do to bring this upon myself? What did *I* do to encourage a man 25 years older than me to attack me when I was vulnerable and physically incapable of fighting back or even keeping him off of me? I’m not ashamed to admit that when I became an adult THAT mind fuck paid for a few therapists vacations.

Things became more difficult when I became an adult – and not just because of the rape. Suddenly, at the age of 18 I was expected to know how to navigate being legally objectified. When you’re jail-bait you’re subjected to endless leering. But, when you achieve the age of majority – even though you’re still very much a kid – predatory male behavior kicks in to high gear.

When I turned 18 I briefly had an agent and interviewed a would-be manager – both men at least 15 years older than me – who each tried to turn a professional relationship into a casting couch. The agent had a habit of creepily calling me at 8 am because, he said, he really liked hearing the sound of my voice when I woke up in the morning. The manager, over the course of a 2 hour interview tried to kiss me.

Let’s not forget a male actor I had worked with numerous times who didn’t recognize me when I was 18 and wearing a saucy red jumpsuit and big hair. I was going in to an interview and he was leaving one when I recognized him from 20 feet away, only to have him mistake my smile of recognition as a come on. I wanted to vomit at his leer, and when he realized who I was he tried to pretend he wasn’t checking my ass out.

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There was the predatory douche in the acting class at Cal State University Northridge with whom I was doing a Chekov piece who mauled me during rehearsal at his home, insisting we needed to spoon before doing the scene, and physically wrapped his arms around me against me will, forcing me to lie next to him on the couch, where I could feel his erection. I was numb and terrified.

Mr. Mauler missed the next class, hanging me out to dry on our scene presentation, screwing me on my grade. I spoke up in class about what had happened, and another female student looked incredulous and said it had happened to her, too – being held against her will, and then he didn’t show for the scene. We were the only 2 women he’d been paired with, and twice he’d physically overpowered his scene-mates into forced intimacy and blew off the performance. He was clearly using rehearsal time as assault time. The Professor’s reaction was to give us each a passing mark for our scenes, and him 2 goose eggs he was allowed to make up by doing scenes with a male actor. He wasn’t kicked out of class because… you know… It could really hurt his reputation if this made it into his permanent file.

 

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The real corker happened just before I left California, when I was managing the box office at The Hollywood Palace, just off of Hollywood and Vine and directly across from the Capitol Records building. The Palace was a high-end night club that held 1,800 people and featured all the best current and up-and-coming acts; it also had an exclusive restaurant and on the second floor a roof-top private club that people fought tooth and nail to get into, including Althea Flynt, the wife of Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt.

It was at The Palace that Larry Flynt’s weaselly assistant tried to coerce me and 2 other female co-workers to wear string bikinis and stiletto heels into a federal court to push wheel barrows full of pennies in to pay one of Flynt’s obscenity fines. I was offered the princely sum of $100 to leave my dignity at the door. Somehow I found the power to decline without alienating a client.

Later, when the Weasel found out I was a former child actor, nothing would do but he kept insisting I needed to do a spread-eagle signature Hustler pictorial. He thought he was complimenting me by mercilessly nagging me every time he saw me to do something I had not ever had a fleeting passing interest in. I was expected to be cordial to this tool who insisted on acting like he was my pimp, because Althea and her groupies brought in big bucks, prestige and probably coke.

There was a lot of coke at The Palace then. Hell, there was a lot of coke all over Los Angeles then. It was sucking in friends and family, and I’m grateful I held strong against trying it, much less using it. My manager at The Palace had a problem with coke and as his addiction progressed so did his inexcusable behavior.

I’d been there 2 years, and the abuse had ratcheted up slowly over the weeks and months. It began with cruelty, “Jesus, you’re an uptight little Catholic girl, aren’t you?”  and moved to unwanted dirty jokes. It wasn’t long until there were slaps on the ass and finally to him exposing himself on a regular basis. His favorite way to do it was to turn his pocket inside out and ask if I wanted to see a one-eared elephant, followed by pulling his semi-turgid penis out of his pants.

The job paid really well and was fabulously cool, it allowed me to sleep and attend class and take time off for any acting jobs I got. I learned to look away when he took his dick out, and to spend as little time alone with him as possible.

He began to frequently and fruitlessly demand sex from me “When are you gonna give it up?”  Then, he allowed the bar staff to have a semi-secret betting pool regarding which male employee would bed me first.

Knowing all this, I had to grit my teeth and be pleasant to his princess girlfriend who pretended to be oblivious to the way her boyfriend was literally swinging his dick around.

As his cocaine addiction progressed his anger became explosive, and his behavior unpredictable. The owners began to show up less frequently (their problem was alcohol, not coke) and Cocaine Manager became more erratic.

One busy Friday evening Cocaine Manager came in to the box office with a glaze in his eyes that let me know he had his load on. I had no patience for a coked-up, drunk boss, and when he made the elephant appear for the umpteenth time I opined that it was the shortest trunk I had ever seen.

His fury broke like a wave, and in a flash as he grabbed my right nipple, and squeezing as hard as he could he twisted my breast. I screamed and he let go, then I ran to the bathroom, locked the door and cried. That fucking psycho yelled through the door, “You watch your filthy fucking mouth, you hear?” before slamming the door on his way out.

At home in the wee hours I could see the angry bruise that was forming on my breast, and when the morning came I called the police about the assault. It was then I heard for first time in my life – but no-where near the last – how the police refused to get involved with a ‘He Said, She Said’ situation. I couldn’t believe my ears that yet again someone who had physically assaulted me would get away with it.

Refusing to let the matter go, I had my doctor document the bruise on my breast and nipple, and took the matter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was then being run by that superb sexual harasser, and current Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas. I filed my grievance and waited to for something in the mail to tell me what would happen next.

One evening a few weeks later, as I was preparing the will call and guest list for that night’s show, the door from the club into the box office blasted open, the knob hitting the wall so hard it left a hole where it bounced off. Cocaine Manager was standing in the doorway as angry as I have ever seen anyone in my life. He rushed forward and grabbed my arms and began to shake me like a rag doll. The EEOC had called the woman in Human Resources and she immediately told Cocaine Manager about my complaint. His answer was to physically assault me.

“You went to the GOVERNMENT about me you fucking bitch?!!!” he was screaming in my face as my head was being whipped around and his hands dug into the flesh on my arms. Suddenly my breasts were on fire as he was grabbing and squeezing them viciously. “You don’t want me to touch your tits?!! How’s this?!!”

He flung me by my arm into the wall, like a crack-the-whip.  Nearly incomprehensible with rage he shrieked, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY CLUB YOU FUCKING CUNT!!! GET THE FUCK OUT YOU’RE FIRED!!!!!”

As I scrambled out the door with my purse and coat he kicked me in the ass as hard as he could and I hit the wall in front of me.

The police STILL refused to get involved – He Said, She Said, and all that.

In the end the EEOC dropped the case because they couldn’t see that Cocaine Manager had done a single thing wrong. According to them, my going on a date with 2 different co-workers had given my supervisor carte blanche to demand sex from me. His physical assault and retaliation didn’t enter into it because I had no standing  to make a complaint to begin with.

It was shortly after that I left for Colorado at the age of 20.

Yes – ALL of this happened by the time I was 20.

When I started this list I figured I could crank out a few pages about the ways I’ve been harassed. I have already put down 2,500 words and I’ve only covered the stories I remember (right now) from the first 20 years of my life.

It’s sobering to realize just how many stories I have. But, even more sobering to know that nearly every woman in this country has their own stories to share. Yes, Stories – plural.

I’m going to keep telling my stories, because if we don’t tell them how the hell are men ever going to know what’s REALLY happening? We need them to stand up for us – and they need to understand how god-awfully pervasive it is.

I’ll keep telling my stories. Isn’t it time to tell yours and make your voice heard?

 

 

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You Could Die Laughing

I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters” – Donald Trump, January 23, 2016

I will probably vomit on the next Trumpologist who feigns surprise and pretends to condemn the terrorism and murder committed by Nazis in Charlottesville this weekend.

Who KNEW that the guy who bragged about getting away with murder might collect Fascist admirers?

Who could imagine that the guy who retweeted Nazi slogans and images of himself  would attract Nazis?

 

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It was all one big laugh riot when Trump said Mexicans are rapists, Blacks are lazy and Journalists should be imprisoned or murdered!

Wasn’t it a hoot when he said POWs aren’t heroes because they got caught, and how US soldiers with PTSD aren’t strong? Hey remember that lighthearted day he attacked the grieving Gold Star Parents of a dead US soldier because they’re Muslim?

Gosh – didn’t we all know it was just funnin’ when he said a woman questioning him has to be on the rag? Such a gigglefest to see a thin-skinned narcissist rage-tweet to his followers to watch a non-existent sex tape of the Venezuelan Miss Universe who had the temerity to complain about his fat-shaming. Calling women disgusting, fat pigs is just in jest!

 

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Oh, my, but how I laughed and laughed and laughed when Trump mocked a disabled reporter!! Although I *was* confused by the folks who lied to themselves and me in self-righteous fury at the pictorial proof.

I’m sure we all looked at his proposal of putting Syrians in concentration camps and deporting them as the jackanapes it was intended to be. And really, who *wouldn’t* chuckle deeply at the notion of Muslims being forced to register with the government and wear ID tags in public, while their mosques are closed by government decree? Trump continuing to lie about seeing ‘thousands and thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on 9-11’ – despite an utter lack of evidence and the (Republican) NJ Governor & the head of the 9-11 Commission saying it’s an absolute fabrication – is really just an elaborate prank, doncha know?

 

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By gum – who thought Trump was serious when he encouraged crowds to beat up protestors? You’re reading FAR too much into it if you heard Trump say he’d pay the legal bills for those committing assault in his name.

‘Maybe he should have been roughed up‘. Donald Trump, Nov 22, 2016, on a protester

‘Knock the crap out of protesters, I’ll pay your legal fees’ Donald Trump, Feb 1, 2016

‘Go ahead and punch someone in the face and I’ll pay your legal bills.’ Donald Trump, March 13, 2016

Certainly NO-ONE could infer a message from those ratcheted-up statements, and to try to read into it the encouragement of violence and lawlessness, or look at his statements over the last 2 years and see an appeal to Nazis and Fascist is just horrible identity politics, and you should feel ashamed of yourself!

Who could have foreseen that encouraging THIS in March 11 of 2016:

 

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Would lead to THIS in Charlottesville, August 11, 2017?

 

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Trump suporters can spare me their fake hand-wringing and denouncing this weekend’s terrorism as something coming out of the blue!

Trumpologists’ mealy mouthed denials of seeing Nazis in their midst are no better than Captain Renault from Casablanca standing in Rick’s Cafe collecting his winnings, while being shocked – SHOCKED I TELL YOU! – to find gambling in this establishment!

Fuck your False Equivalence, and Whataboutism with a side of ‘He was just joking’!!

 

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Is it REALLY that fucking hard to denounce the terrorism that killed peaceful protestor Heather Heyer?!!

If you don’t denounce the whole Nazi business – including Trump – you have Heather’s blood on your hands.

If you’ve ever wondered what you would’ve done during slavery, the Holocaust, or the Civil Rights movement…you’re doing it now.

Remember to Keep Laughing at the truth, Trumpologists, and Grab Them By The Pussy!!

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Fake Men and Angry Women

Last month I opened a parody account on Twitter, spoofing a well-known male politician’s name. In *3 weeks* I garnered 35% of the followers it took me a year to get with an account using my own name. Fake Man is averaging 10,000 views a day – totally smoking my Real Name’s views, due to his being liked hundreds more times a week with a clearly fake male name than with a real news woman’s name.

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My latest tweet under Fake Man’s name was simply ‘Interesting Read’ in response to a linked article at the end of a *28-post thread* by the original poster. I received 16 likes off of 2,900 views, and one retweet off of a stupid throw away compliment. Why in the name of all that is logical would ANYONE retweet ‘Interesting Read’??!!!

Suddenly, one liners Claudia couldn’t get an inch of traction on have become an endless flow of positive reinforcement for Fake Man. I’ve had to turn the Twitter notifications off of my phone at night because the continual pinging was waking my husband and I up.

The best part? I’m tweeting EXACTLY the same things as before, but in the last 3 weeks not 1 person has called me angry, stupid, crazy, old, ugly, fat or bitch. You cannot BELIEVE the amount of abuse an opinionated woman who won’t be bullied takes on the internet. A fake man gets far more respect than a real woman.

 

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The ‘go-to’ phrase for insecure men is that I’m angry. I bet I’ve heard, “You’re an angry woman,” every day that I post in earnest as myself on social media. It is – almost without exception – men possessed of a certain attitude that women aren’t as smart as men. Any good point I make based in fact must be made because I’m angry, not because I’m smart. Therefore, they can dismiss anything I say – thus preserving their bubble of past-its-expiration-date testosterone.

Women almost never accuse strange women of being angry – they prefer bitch, cunt or cow – and being accused incorrectly of harboring anger is something insecure men latch on to. For whatever reason (chauvinism, anger at equality, projection or intimidation) these men unconsciously reproduce the dynamics of being in an argument with a partner, not a stranger. They take it from casual to personal in 3 seconds flat. They beat their chest and pronounce their superiority and attack like a screeching baboon flinging poo. I would find it even more hilarious than I do if it weren’t so damn pitiful.

I look at these keening men who are clearly battling an inferiority complex and wonder at the women these wretched souls deal with on a daily basis. So often I am utterly grateful I don’t have to deal with them in any fashion in real life. I feel bad for the women in their personal circles, but feel deep empathy for the women I will never meet who must deal with these Rageaholic men in a professional manner.

Because that’s what it is: Rage. Pure, unadulterated rage.

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These tiny men are enraged that they have to share, or observe simple manners or treat women as equals.

You see the problem is they *don’t* see me as an equal. My approaching them as such causes such fury as to make them apoplectic and my laughing makes them reckless.

There is a sad little man on Facebook (a friend of a friend and a retired cop) who borders on the frightening now because it seems he is obsessed with me. He seeks me out on her posts to hurl invectives and he becomes unhinged when I refuse to be cowed by his pathetic behavior. When I grow bored with his antics and stop responding, this lonely little troll comes and shit posts on my page. Yes – a man who wore a gun for a living cannot grasp boundaries and believes it’s his right to harass me ad nauseum because I dared to answer him as an equal. I cannot imagine how this awful man abused his power over the decades as an officer of the peace.

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He is only one of dozens of angry impotent men I see every month who project their Rage on any woman foolish enough to imagine herself an equal. This trend really took off in earnest in 2015 when bigots and sexists got permission to let their freak flag fly by Trump. “Grab ‘Em By The Pussy!!” was their rallying cry – and Oh! The sweet relief of finally being reassured that you ARE the biggest, brightest boy and it’s okay to threaten those mean scary girls until they get back in their place.

A tremendously well written, well thought out piece by Sara Robinson for Rewire stopped me in my tracks as I read it last night. You should read it, too, because Robinson nails it completely:

“This is something most women know in their bones, but which most men don’t have to reckon with to nearly the same degree. This is the truth Margaret Atwood got at in one of her most famous passages: Men are afraid that women will laugh at them; women are afraid that men will kill them. Robert Heinlein put the same idea another way: “Never frighten a little man. He’ll kill you.” Women learn young—as a matter of basic survival—that if you so much as crack a grin in the direction of a fragile man, you put yourself in grave danger. You may possibly provoke him to violence so brutal and so disproportionate that you could end up beaten, sexually assaulted, or dead. And in his mind, you will have had every bit of it coming, since your disrespectful laughter is the one thing in the world that can deflate his sense of masculine control and power in a matter of seconds.”

I once had a News Director come over a conference room table in a wild fury – with Human Resources and a Union representative in attendance – because I pointed out with a smile during a contentious meeting his multiple egregious spelling errors in a ‘Company All’ email. Look: Apologizing for the ‘incontinence’ you caused someone is fucking funny no matter who you are. Unless you are a rage-filled impotent little man absolutely terrified by a laughing woman. I will say that his physically threatening me was a main factor in the state finding in my favor that ‘any reasonable person could not continue working under such hostile circumstances without fear of reprisal,” and granted me extended unemployment benefits when I quit.

This morning in a freewheeling thread with 33 posts a man’s jabbing at a poster was tolerated without comment, while I was called ‘angry’. For what it’s worth? I have been hit by a bus AND I have Hashimoto’s – so my question was only 33% smart assery.

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Who ARE these men so addicted to fury at women? These insecure masters of projection who know deep down that they will never have the control over others they so desire, and who so shrilly demand that women acquiescence to them through fluttered eyelashes and muttered demurral?

Why do they imagine it’s their RIGHT to cruelly dominate women in conversation and the work place, in act and deed?

Any woman who DARES to resist and speak up the same way a man would in the same situation is labeled ‘Angry’ and attacked, often by multiple male strangers – weak Omega wolfs emboldened by the pack mentality who materialize out of the woodwork to provide a mealy-mouthed echo chamber of Rage.

If Angry Woman does not show immediate submission to the Omega she is to be ground down and bullied until she knows her place. If she cannot be properly tyrannized into submission she is labeled Crazy – the ultimate sentence of Excommunication for worshipers at the Temple of the Perpetually Enraged.

A Crazy Woman’s facts needn’t be taken any more seriously than you take her. Who cares about *facts* when a good Ad Hominem attack coupled with a bullshit Straw Man argument are ALWAYS good for dismissing stupid Wimmin.

Rageaholic Math: Sexist Character Assassination + Putting Words In My Mouth = I’m Crazy

Uh-huh. Got it.

My experience isn’t singular, and one has to look no further than how shamefully the most powerful women in the country are treated.

Senator Kamala Harris was spoken to appallingly during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate Intelligence Committee hearing regarding his lying about Russian contacts under oath. Harris – a self-possessed brilliant woman of color who is a former a prosecutor and the former Attorney General of California – was described as *hysterical* by Fox pundits after dispassionately pressing the current Attorney General to cite which policy or law prohibited him from answering every question that was put before him that afternoon . This was Harris’ wheelhouse as a prosecutor & AG, yet she was unsuccessful in getting Sessions to co-operate because she was interrupted and chastised by Senator John McCain and Republican Committee Chair Senator Richard Burr. Sessions ridiculously claimed Harris’ behavior made him nervous – dog whistle for ‘The Pushy Black Woman Is Scary!!!”

Burr was simply repeating his performance of a week previous when he interrupted Harris’ questioning Rod Rosenstien about his role in firing James Comey. She was chastised both times for her aggressive behavior, and I’m surprised Burr didn’t tell her to act more ladylike and that she’d be a WHOLE lot prettier if she’d just smile once in a while.

Perhaps you think Kamala Harris WAS being too pushy. Well, then why were her male counterparts not interrupted or prevented from speaking when they asked the SAME questions using the same vernacular Harris did?  Democratic Senators Ron Wyden, Angus King and Martin Heinrich were allowed to ask tough questions and make snarky remarks – and The Good Old Boys demanded that only The Angry Woman know her place.

Afterward, Heinrich, Wyden and King spoke up for Harris, saying she’d done nothing wrong and she was being subject to an unfair double standard. Unfortunately, these statements were made to the press and on social media; they were not entered in the Senatorial Record, where it belongs.

Harris’ treatment goes hand in glove with the most stomach turning, cringe worthy treatment of Senior Senator Elizabeth Warren as she used her time to read a 1986 letter by Corretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr, detailing Attorney-General-Nominee Sessions’ horrific and well documented Civil Rights record over the decades – a letter which would have allowed Warren to point out that Sessions was too racist for even the Reagan judiciary and his appointment was rejected resoundingly.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used his power to exercise a little known rule to allow the GOP majority vote to silence Warren. Warren protested by continuing to read and her mic was cut off. McConnell thought his on-camera finger wagging diatribe meant to humiliate an equal colleague was a brilliant stroke. Instead, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, She persisted” became a rally cry for women across the country.

McConnell Nevertheless She Persisted

Imagine that, Senator Pearlclucther – a WOMAN staring at you unblinkingly, nonplussed by your attempts at intimidation. It must have made his blood boil and caused him to work his mouth like was gumming a piece of lettuce, right up until Elaine Chao put him back on his feet and reassured him that men ARE the Big Daddies in control. You know Elaine – Mitch’s wife and the utterly unqualified 18th Secretary of Transportation in Trump’s cabinet. A position tendered only when McConnell refused to throw his support behind PEOTUS. Elaine is undoubtedly thought of as ‘one of the good ones’ on SO many levels.

A majority of Congressmen are AGHAST and offended that female Senators intend to do their job and expect the same respect and courtesy from their male counterparts as they are required to give. These men are holdovers from a day when slapping your Secretary’s ass was A-Okay, and they are positively flummoxed that these Crazy Women won’t back down and aren’t subservient. It is a downright affront and assault to their very Maleness that these inferior females Don’t. Know. Their. Place.

If you think the whole damn GOP isn’t full of ugly men like this, kindly remember that not ONE woman was included in the committee to design Trumpcare, nor was there ONE concession made to female needs in the Whip or reconciliation processes. It was just one giant ‘Women are chattel who belong to us and whose physical needs are unimportant – They have no Personal Agency or Self Determination and do not even get to decide when they have children’.

There is a bottomless well of terrible behavior to draw upon: Sean Spicer verbally attacked reporter April Ryan (a WOC) when she shook her head ‘no’ at his direct contradiction to his own statement made days before, and one that Spicer was peddling as today’s version of the truth. He dressed down Ryan in a shocking fashion, flexing his power. Bill O’Reilly took it a step further and mocked Congresswoman Maxine Walters’ hair, asking if she was wearing a James Brown wig instead of addressing her real concerns and points – because terribly executed Ad Hominem attacks never get old.

What do you expect from a party who decided to bet the farm on the phrase ‘Grab ‘Em By The Pussy!!’ and who bats nary an eyelash when POTUS ogles and paws the First Lady of France? (Yer Honor! Look what she was wearing! She was in such GREAT shape – Beautiful!) Is it any wonder the First Lady of Japan spent 2 hours at the G-20 dinner seated next to Trump pretending not to understand a word of English when she is perfectly fluent?

The example has been set at the top, and is flowing down like some noxious champagne pyramid, filling every glass with a bubbly mix of chauvinism and cruelty. Men who chafed at having to display a modicum of control around women have been released to wallow in a perpetual Rumspringa of Misogyny, drinking deeply from the Cup of Rage.

The public push to control women is worse now than it was when I first became aware at 16. The anger and hatred and need to punish women is horrifying and palpable. Women have fewer rights and health care options now than they did in the 1980s – and goddam if I wasn’t FURIOUS at how few rights I was ‘granted’ then.

Here’s the thing, though: I had some wonderful male mentors who taught me from the earliest age that my opinion mattered. Norman Lear indulgently squandered 10  or 15 minutes with me every week or so when I bum-rushed his personal assistant – wait no! I joyously ran across KTTV from the commissary, ignoring my mother’s protestations, leaving her arthritic knees behind flights of stairs. Dashing across the lot at full speed and into the building where his office was I took the stairs 2 at a time, swinging around the corner to see if Norman’s door was open: If it was I waved at his assistant, and galloped across his office to throw myself into his arms. After our hug I would sit across from him and tell him about life on the set, school and the stories I was writing. He always made me feel like what I had to say was important, and encouraged me to write. At the start of the 2nd season a top of the line IBM Selectric auto-correct type writer was in my school room when I got to work one morning. That was a big thing. To this day I remember the solid weight, the way it vibrated when I turned it on and how it responded to the words in my head that came out my fingers. I could write and make mistakes and change my mind.

That kindness has given me an art, a craft, several livelihoods and the way to express myself almost as fast as I can talk.

Claudia and Norman

Oliver Hailey really taught me the hard basics of how to write and put in the work you must do to make a piece original and polished. Oliver allowed me to join a writing class with 7 other students – two of whom were Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly. Need I mention the level of wit required to keep up with that class, which was held at the Debbie Reynolds Studio? I was 15 and was doing a dual enrollment in High School and Community College. Oliver believed in the value of my writing and my ability to tell of a story, and he never let me off easy. I remember with absolute clarity the first time I nailed a short story and the class gave me actual respectful applause instead of just nodded heads. I cannot tell you the personal power that gave me – it is a compass I carry with me as I write: A burden that nags me into making a piece, a paragraph, a sentence or even a word be exactly right and to always *Pay Attention*  and to write in sequence – not matter how long that takes.

Greg Mullavey taught me about timing, NEVER denying a premise and allowing another performer to have the last word.

Martin Mull (probably doesn’t know it) taught me to believe in my comedy, to commit to it completely, and to develop a 1,000-yard gaze with a nod – A shield I carry with me always and wish I’d taken out of my armory sooner.

Claudia Gridiron 2002 2

 

 

There were men who hired me in radio *because* I could match the worst people wit for wit – Bruce Kamen being the most loved. He told me the thing that some General Managers would hate would be the very thing others would love – but to stay true to myself always. In other words: Don’t change your stance for the paycheck. It is advice that allowed me to leave Talk Radio with my dignity, and move into News with a good reputation – plus one HELL of a reference.

I would have walked across coals for Mickey Luckoff, the greatest General Manager of the greatest Radio station in the United States for 35 years (voted by our peers). Under his management at KGO I was part of the News Team that won 4 Associated Press Mark Twain Awards and 5 Edward R. Murrow Awards.

It bolsters me to know that there are men everywhere who are allies and accomplices to Equality.

Here’s the thing, though: I didn’t feel like I could tell my truth on my own blog about the abuse I take online without also acknowledging there were positive male influences in my life. I wanted to head off the “Yeah, but… Is she a man hater?” questions at the pass.

I love men. I’m married to one. I gave birth to one. 5 are my brothers, and I can count on more than 2 hands the number I consider dear friends. (Why, some of my BEST friends are male…)

It doesn’t change the fact that too many men are raging assholes who mean harm to women and too many men won’t stand up to their dickish behavior, chalking up online harassment toward women as inevitable and innocuous. It’s not.

Online Harassment of Angry Women is meant to silence the smartest, strongest and most outspoken among us. It’s nothing any of us should put up with, and I am so proud of all of my friends who brook no bullying on their timelines – and that includes me when I’m being an asshole. We all make mistakes or act like a dick and we *must* be called on it and admit it (admitting before being called is preferable) or it never changes.

Guys? If you see a another guy acting like a dick towards a woman and you don’t call him on it you’re not minding your own business – you’re enthusiastically encouraging dickish behavior. If a woman looks like she’s handling herself just fine and you don’t add a voice of encouragement? You’re part of the problem and a voyeur. Nothing ever changes until the majority stands up for what’s right.

I won’t hold my breath that folks will suddenly see the light and be counted among the righteous. That’s why we’re where we are.

As for me? I will Resist to my dying breath – a proud Angry Woman. It would be an honor to be scolded, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, She persisted”

 

The Frogs Have Come Out To Play

pepe-the-frog-nazi

There is quite clearly a link between the election and a sudden rise in cyber-harassment, which I have personally experienced. In the four days after the election I received more hate-tweets and garbage posts on my Twitter feed that I have in the previous 7 years combined.

My FaceBook wall has been rummaged through by Trolls, Frogs and hateful, spittle-flecked shrieking strangers who tell me to grow up, get over it and to leave the country.

‘Frogs’ is my label for the hate-filled Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) mostly found on 4Chan who are proudly racist, bigoted, homophobes that think women who have been raped have been done a favor. They are open Nazi supporters who use Pepe the Frog as their mascot: An image designated by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol alongside swastikas and burning crosses.

In short: The people who embrace this image are Trump’s red meat base.

Frog is my ‘Fetch’, and I’m trying to make it happen.

It is not a pejorative – because it’s based on something people have control over: Their embrace of hatred, and the willingness to disenfranchise marginalized minorities and women.

pepe-the-frog-kkk-nazi

A no-longer-silent dog whistle was blown when Trump was elected, and now the Frogs think the internet belongs to them.

I had one rude crazy woman go to my FB page and assume my post about a rude crazy woman was about her. She became incensed – took a screen shot. Demanded… I’m not sure what. But, she seemed to think that screen shot was something valuable. It seemed an oddly appropriate metaphor to what has been happening on Social Media these last few days.

I’ve been physically threatened posting in a general forum, being told my mouth was writing checks my ass couldn’t cash – when I was reciting facts. (not ‘truths’)

I’d call them Poor Winners – but that  would imply that there isn’t REAL violence going on right now across the country.

pepe-the-frog-confederate-flag

Regarding my Twitter account, some quick research shows that this is a targeted attack to specific high traffic websites. Yesterday I tweeted 10 times (before the shitstorm – and NO I’m not proud I fed the trolls), yet I received some 50-odd tweets back regarding an original post on that had only received 60 views  in 12 hours. (96 views 24 hours later) That site? The New York Times. The Tweet for which I received the second biggest hate-spew was to USA Today, whence I was told to delete my account, take benzodiazepine, fuck myself and leave the country.

Yesterday’s provocative tweet?  “Yay for Gerrymandering and Voter suppression”, in response to an article about our deeply divided nation that is half conservative and half liberal, but nearly all levels of government are run by the GOP.

That’s pretty normal for me – I’ve been tweeting like this for years with a collective yawn by the internet. Yet, amazingly I’m getting all kinds of negative attention, and the only thing that has changed is the President-elect.

pepe-the-frog-massa

This morning I got up to find a ‘friend’ of a childhood friend has tracked shit on my wall because he didn’t agree with an opinion that I left on my friend’s page – FWIW she and I are horrified at the results. He felt the need to mock and belittle a total stranger. There was no attempt at dialogue or even arrogant fact reciting. It was just pure vitriol: Being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. I’ve had it happen with at least 5 total strangers in 4 days.  Not to mention said crazy woman above.

I had a peer seek out my page to start an argument after I walked away from her utter lack of compassion regarding my taking Trump at his word when he promises to end the ACA, and with it my pre-existing condition exclusion. After telling her in great detail how this would mean bankruptcy, divorce (sign away assets to get Medicaid) or become a medical refugee, her sentiments (if not exact words, because I refuse to bugger myself by going back to that awful conversation to quote her exactly): Your insurance is not my concern.

I refused to engage further with someone who could reduce that situation to: Not My Problem.

I decided to unfollow her for a few weeks until things calmed down – that way she wouldn’t see my posts, I wouldn’t see hers, and we could go back to being civil. Instead, she decided to take the fight to me by seeking out my page to read what I was writing so that she could be offended.

As is habit with these folks, when faced with something they don’t like they change the subject at the top of their lungs. I don’t play the Red Herring game, though.

Her Waterloo was a post where I said that Trump voters fucking OWN the KKK Victory Parade celebrating Trump’s victory. Without irony – this woman who supports a candidate that blames all Muslims for the actions of a few – took umbrage at holding people accountable for voting for a man who campaigned on racism, bigotry, homophobia and misogyny.

She refused to defend any of the dozen or so direct Trump quotes that show what a horrible shit-bag he is – including the one where he pretends he doesn’t know what the KKK is. She sidled right up to an Ad Hominem attack, and decided calling the *conversation* stupid was more diplomatic than outright calling *me* stupid. She then did the most adult thing she could think of to do – she unfriended me.

That should be a comfortable meeting the next time we show up for the advocacy group we both volunteer for and donate to. With her being in a position on the board I don’t worry at all that she’ll be punitive. Nope. I don’t worry that the woman who couldn’t let a disagreement go and needed to turn it into a full-fledged drama complete with unfriending will hold a grudge.

pepe-the-frog-nazi-shirt

I don’t ever remember the trolling ever being this bad. These hate-filled pus bags have been emboldened and their racist, bigoted, anti-Gay MRA agenda has been validated. They emulate the bully they voted in.

Not everyone who voted for Trump is a Neo-Nazi -But, they ARE totally okay with belonging to a group that not only tolerates, but encourages them.

The hate speech will continue because Trump refuses to say during his 3 am Rage-Tweet sessions: “I don’t want the support of the KKK and renounce racism and bigotry.”

He’d still have 72 characters left to tell us how big his hands are or “Grab Them By The Pussy!!”

But, he won’t – and that’s why the Frogs have come out to play.

It’s going to be a long 4 years.

“I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. … I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.” Trump on the Klan 2/28/16

pepe-the-trump

I’m A Bad Sport Bitch

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It’s 1991, and I’ve been hired at WKRC in Cincinnati (it’s a real station, look it up). They’re changing formats – sort of. They want to be part of the great Talk Experiment, and it’s my first full time gig. The problem is they only want a talk show from 10 am- 2 pm M-F; the rest of the time it’s oldies music. Oh, and then there’s the cinder block wall of a half hour newscast from Noon to 12:30, followed by 15 minutes of Paul Harvey.

Thinking I had a shot of making that horrible format work (ah, youth!), I took the job they offered me at the interview and agreed to move my family to Cincinnati in a few weeks. I was to start Monday.

That first day – April 1st – I’m ready to prove my mettle: The news ends, the sweeper plays and I’m waiting for “Wild, Wild West” by Escape Club to play. Instead the guitar riff from ‘The Bitch Is Back’ by Elton john starts cold.

I sit there for a minute blinking. First, I think the producer has made a mistake, but then I see the look on his face, he’s smiling. I’m confused and am trying to focus on opening my first show, and I realize the PD is at the door laughing, along with any number of male colleagues. It dawns on me what music is playing and I am hurt: Mortified, angry, humiliated. I feel the sting of tears in my eyes as I realize what they are doing to me. I swallow, breathe, smile like I’m in on the joke and open the mic and the show.

What I assumed was an April Fool’s first-day-on-the-job hazing was to be my regular music: My PD refused to allow me to use any other intro but ‘The Bitch Is Back.” Every. Single. Show.

Walking into that studio to hear myself called a bitch everyday was beyond degrading, but my male colleagues made sure I knew I was in a ‘Man’s Business’ and heaped the humiliation on me.

secretarys-day

WKRC Part 2 – “You’re just not a good sport,” my Program Director was telling me at the end of my first week. You know, the one that started with my being forced to use ‘The Bitch Is Back’ as my theme music.

I’m sitting in my PD’s office for a sound check and show meeting – an event that shouldn’t even happen for a few weeks that he has turned into a daily exercise in torture that lasted at least an hour.

My ‘not being a good sport’ was because I had complained to him that the day before I found the picture of my 3 1/2 year-old son I had put on my cubical wall with red thumb tacks driven through the eyes. I was furious, and put a note up next to the picture, “This isn’t funny. This is a picture of my son, who is 1,200 miles away and whom I miss very much. His grandma sent me this picture.” That morning when I got to work the tacks were back in his eyes and more tacks outlined his smile, with 2 pennies taped to the note. I was apoplectic. The morning guy’s producer sauntered by and informed me that I had no sense of humor and admitted his boss had done it. Maybe I was not fit to be in radio, opined the teenager who had never – EVER – been on the air.

I listened to my boss tell me how I needed to roll with the punches, him being oblivious at how he utterly abused and misused the metaphor. You’re not supposed to dodge punches from your co-workers!

I couldn’t get back to my hotel room at the Omni fast enough, so I could call my son and ground myself – remind myself why I was doing this. As I was changing from my suit into my sweats I had the radio on, listening to the station. A promo came on that made me stop dead – my foot poised above my sweat pants. “Win lunch for your office for Secretary’s Day!! All you have to do is send Claudia Lamb a picture of you sitting in your bosses lap!!”

I tripped on my sweat pants, sprawling on the floor in my rush for the telephone to ask my boss what the hell was going on.

“Isn’t it great?” said my PD – I could hear him leering on the phone.

I spoke eloquently about how dehumanizing and sexist this promotion was and how it contributed to a culture of misogyny, and how I didn’t want the stink of it on me. He admitted that it was a publicity stunt he dreamed up to get some cheap publicity for my show. I was aghast and strenuously objected, but I was contractually obligated to participate.

The following Monday I read the promo liner cards in my utmost cardboard voice. I was white hot furious at being dragged into a sexist promotion. It was bad enough they were still calling it Secretary’s Day, but to drag me into humiliating people so they can eat? A few minutes later one of my callers lit into me, she couldn’t believe I’d do something so sexist. I told her that I found the whole thing in appallingly bad taste, but that I was a professional and would meet the terms of my contract.

The blow-back was swift and severe, and for the most part I avoided being the brunt of it. People were furious at my boss and the calls poured in that first afternoon – my boss grinning and loving it. The next day someone in corporate HR told him that the station could be liable if there were a sexual harassment suit filed and that promotion was pulled like a needle across a record.

He saved face by giving the prize to a small business owned by a married couple. He honestly thought the avalanche of shit he brought down for his sexist promotion was a success.

bitch-1

WKRC Part 3 – The hits kept coming when, about a month after I stared pushing a rock uphill for 4 hours a day, my PD announced we would be getting station jackets. He had decided on a Members Only-style silver satin jacket with the station logo on the back, and the employee’s name embroidered on the front.

Sure the style may have been half a decade late, but the good news was we would have to pay for it ourselves. This was something the PD didn’t bother to tell anyone before taking their size and ordering. I remember him walking around the station hitting people up for $60 to pay for their own company branding, and the stunned looks on everyone’s face. One person told him they’d have never ordered the jacket had they known they would have to pay for it themselves, and the PD grinning, “I know. That’s why I didn’t tell anybody. I wanted everybody to be wearing one!”

When the big day came and the jackets finally arrived the PD stood with a crowd gathered, handing them out of the box in a fashion that suggested they were gifts he had paid for. He made a show of handing each person their jacket.

Mine was one of the first he handed out – when the crowd was the largest. The PD took it out of the plastic bag it was in and held it up for all to see, first showing it to the left and to the right.

‘Bitch’ was embroidered in large cursive letters on the left breast. The assembled crowd roared with laughter. That asshole made me pay for my own jacket, and then ruined it with the repulsive epithet he knew offended me.

I again felt the sting of tears, but wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry, and gamely grinned. I snatched my jacket out of his hand and left the laughing crowd, going back to the desk upon which I knew I couldn’t put a picture of my family without it being defaced.

That night at home I took a pair of manicure scissors and tweezers and carefully cut that vile epithet off of my jacket. I painstakingly pulled every black thread out of the silver satin, and in the morning took it to a tailor on the way in to work, explaining what I wanted done.

A few days later I sported my WKRC jacket into work – with the name Claudia embroidered in cursive over my left breast. My PD was angry I’d changed the jacket he was so proud of. I was again told how little sense of humor I had – I was a bad sport.

Thankfully that job lasted only 4 months. The parent company switched formats again, and paid off my contract in full.

I earned every penny the hard way.

 

The sad thing is: I haven’t finished telling the worst stories of the sexism I have experienced over the years, and ‘Grab them by the pussy’ is long out of the news cycle. Sexual assault is passé and old news.

And that, my friends, is how rape culture festers: Society loses interest in the issue, and in doing so tells those who have survived that their story really doesn’t matter that much. Or, worse, in revealing what actually happened to us we will be judged or met with disbelief.

It wasn’t okay then, It’s #NotOkay now. #SexismIsReal
trump-grab-her-by-the-pussy

 

With the election of Trump and the validation of racism, sexism misogyny and homophobia it’s only a matter of time until the bullying begins again.

For fuck’s sake – We elected a man who bragged about sexual assault.

Shame on us.

 

The Barber and the Campfire Girl

camp-fire-girlThe first time I was skeeved on by a man I was 9 – he was the barber up at Laurel Canyon and Strathern, across from the 7-11.

I walked home alone from school once in a while. He would talk to me when I would walk by. One day he offered me a dollar to stay and talk with him for a while. I felt uneasy, but he was an adult, so I went inside and sat down in a chair. I could see into his back room and the walls plastered with hard core porn, there must have been hundreds of magazine pages.

Seeing the pictures made me scared and I got up to leave; as I did so the barber insisted on picking me up to see ‘how much I weighed’. I remember trying to maneuver away and him grabbing and lifting me, his hands across my non-existent breasts.

Just then a customer came in, and I remember the barber getting flustered and telling the confused customer that I was his niece as I made my escape. I was shaking so hard it was difficult to walk home. I said nothing to my mother, instinctively knowing I would get yelled at.

I NEVER – EVER – rode my bike past or walked past his shop again. I avoided that place like the plague. I would turn left at the light and walk down to Cantara (praying he wouldn’t see me at the only light we could use) or ride my bike behind the Corner Store, using their parking lot to avoid riding in front of his shop.

At 9 years old I learned that men could be predatory, and the barber made me feel unsafe in my own neighborhood.

Don’t tell me you’re sorry – speak up yourselves! Give voice to your story, or put a stop to harassment and assault whenever or wherever you see it. #ItsNotOkay #SexualHarassmentIsReal #NotOkay

 

Uncle Conrad’s Hot Throat Cream

claudia-kcmo-1When I hosted the morning show at KCMO, in Kansas City, Conrad Dobler exposed himself to me on a regular basis in the studio. A former offensive guard for the St. Louis Cardinals , he was dubbed by Sports Illustrated as  ‘Pro Football’s Dirtiest Player’.

He once whipped it out and asked if I wanted some of ‘Uncle Conrad’s Hot Throat Cream’ for my sore throat. He would stick maxi pads to my desk marked with a red sharpie, and even defaced a picture of my child.

The GM refused to put a stop to his behavior, saying with a shrug, “What can I do?” Dobler’s harassment became so bad I abandoned my desk in the talk pit, instead sharing a desk in the small room between the AM & FM studios with a lady who was fighting her own sexism battles.

I didn’t speak out because women in radio who complained about sexual harassment never worked again.

Oh, and the Asshole GM told a bunch of other GMs I’d sued them for sexual harassment, even though I hadn’t. It brought my price down at my next job.

This shit is REAL. #NotOkay

**Editor’s Note: This post was 10/22/17 to reflect that Dobler played for the St. Louis Cardinals, not the Oakland Raiders.**