Sexual harassment

I know that it sounds dramatic to use the word attack. It’s hard to take male masturbation seriously, because it’s such a fundamental part of comedy. Some of the earliest comedians were actors dressed as satyrs in Ancient Greece — men on stage wearing oversized erect penis costumes running around, annoying the gods, and getting into trouble. The joke still holds up. Oversized boner costumes are hilarious. I would probably watch a show called The Satyrs Take Manhattan about a bunch of guys running around the city, knocking into walls with, like, baguette-sized erections. It wouldn’t win any awards, but, sure, I’d watch a couple episodes on a Sunday. I remember screaming with laughter at Jason Biggs putting his dick into an apple pie and the subsequent conversation he’s forced to have with Eugene Levy. Or the “Master of My Domain” episode of Seinfeld, or the hair gel in There’s Something About Mary, or Steve Carrell preparing to masturbate in 40-Year-Old Virgin by lighting candles and listening to Lionel Richie.
But none of these scenes have made me laugh as hard as I laughed watching Louis C.K. perform live at the Improv a couple years ago. It was almost spiritual, a kind of catharsis — I was crying from laughter, but I think, honestly, I was just crying. I felt understood. A great comedian gives you relief, for a moment, from the burden of your subconscious. We feel like we’ve let them inside. So when a satyr, who has brought such a deep joy to so many people by talking about boners and masturbation, is suddenly accused of using those exact things as weapons to cause pain, it confuses and breaks the heart. I understand the need to find a way that it can all be funny again. I don’t want the story of Louis C.K. to be a tragedy. I wish I could just laugh.
But I’m also tired of trying to explain — and seeing so many other women over the past year try to explain — why none of this is sex. Why it hurts the way violence hurts. Why the fear sticks with you and shapes you and changes you. Why it’s possible to wait for 40 years before you’re ready to talk about the memory of terror.
I’m tired of the rage. A 32-year-old assistant district attorney didn’t “date” a 14-year-old he picked up outside her own custody hearing, as Sean Hannity phrased it in an interview with Roy Moore last week. That’s not what dating is. Taking your clothes off in front of that 14-year-old girl and forcing her to touch you is not sex. But why do we continue to have to explain this? Why do men who have never experienced this form of attack get to define what an attack is? Watching the men on television argue back and forth about what Roy Moore did or didn’t do is like watching color-blind people trying to explain what the color red looks like. You don’t know what it looks like. You’ve never seen it, and I have, so what gives you the right to tell me what it is? As my grandmother used to say to my mom, “Get up and go out there, but know that it’s a man’s world.” Sex is a purple cloud. Red is red. As angry as it makes me and as exhausting as it is, we have to keep fighting to make the blind men see.

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