Aspen Princess: Wrapping my brain around the #metoo movement | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Princess: Wrapping my brain around the #metoo movement

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

Enough is enough already.

For weeks now, I've been wanting to write about the sexual harassment allegations that seem to be coming out every other day, but I've been too afraid. Afraid to offend, afraid to alienate, afraid to open a can of worms that this desperate housewife of Basalt probably doesn't really want to deal with at the end of the day. Hello, I have a 2-year-old who likes to wake up when it's still dark out.

But when it comes to this onslaught of sexual harassment allegations, I have mixed feelings and have been looking for ways to express it for weeks. So let me be clear: I'm not condoning anything, but I'm confused. Where do we draw a line between behavior that's healthy and normal, and that which is predatory?

Please don't freak on me for wanting to understand this better: I'm just looking for some clarity.

In a climate of political correctness, no one wants to take any chances and do or say the wrong thing. I worry that we are afraid to have the conversations we need to have between men and women. I worry we're living and acting out of a place of fear, which is when dangerous things happen, you know, things like witch hunts (albeit of the opposite gender), and censorship and McCarthyism.

The truth is, I've always been a little bit sexist myself. I've always preferred the company of men and not only tolerated their frequent lewd behavior, but preferred it to my more complicated female relationships. Men seemed more straightforward and frankly, a lot more fun. That they were sexually preoccupied 90 percent of the time didn't bother me at all. I prided myself on being tolerant if it meant being inside their world.

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I was often the only woman in a crew of men, traveling to faraway places and sharing hotel rooms, long airplane rides, late nights and heavy drinking where Trump's so-called "locker room talk" was an international language. But I loved every minute of it.

These men, with their thirst for adventure and fearless bravado, took me to places I would have never dared go. That's not to say there aren't amazing, adventurous women out there, especially in Aspen, because we all know them by name (Christy Mahon!). But at least back then, it was the men who literally took me to the edge and pushed. The thrill of the fall and that rush of adrenaline was worth whatever else I had to tolerate. I was in my 20s then, and maybe some of this can be chalked up to low self-esteem and/or the same social conditioning that has led us here in the first place. And maybe that's what all of this is about — moving past that.

I do think most women have experienced sexual assault and/or harassment at some point in their lives — it's just a matter of degree. I have personally experienced both, but instead of fighting back, I submitted. It was almost an animal instinct; if I didn't fight, then I wouldn't have to discover how helpless I really was. I just waited for it to be over and went on with my life. Maybe through all this, young girls will learn to fight back. As they should.

I have also been mistreated in the workplace, once badly enough that a person who overheard the altercation reported the incident to human resources. I have no doubt in my mind that my career opportunities have been limited as a woman. I have hit the glass ceiling in my profession more than once, watching men less qualified get promoted over me. I have often thought about writing under an androgynous pen name because I believe it would change a literary agent's perception of me as a writer. I also never understood why my manuscript was considered women's fiction just because I am a female author.

Maybe it's that social-conditioning thing again, but I never saw myself as a victim.

I didn't feel comfortable chiming in on the #metoo campaign when I first saw it on Facebook. I didn't want to undermine the severity and seriousness of the women who were afraid to come forward with their stories. I worried that it might alienate rather than empower them.

I would also hate to live in a world where men are demonized for behaving like men. I don't condone inappropriate behavior in the workplace or anywhere else, and I certainly care about a woman's right to equal pay and opportunity. But I don't want our perceptions and attitudes to be driven by fear. That will only divide us further.

Part of me wonders, is it possible that in some of these cases that our litigious society enables money-hungry lawyers seeking class-action lawsuits to enable alleged victims to come forward regardless of the crime? Is it fair to judge the accused based on public opinion waged by the media?

Ultimately, I think much of this is misguided anger and fear for our predator-in-chief. I think women are truly frightened, for the first time in modern society, for their safety because the highest office in the land is occupied by a man who openly denigrates women. My fear is that it might become the-little-boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome. Too much of a good thing can quickly turn bad.

It's crushing to see some of my favorite actors and performers fall from grace, one star after another until we're left with total darkness. Maybe they're all monsters; maybe all that power and money and fame became too much. Maybe they also were victims and it's a vicious cycle of abuse that, unless you do the work, will continue to repeat itself.

I think it's of the utmost importance that the victims speak up and speak out. I just don't want them to get lost in the crowd.

The Princess want to thank the people of Alabama who did not vote for Ray Moore. Send her your love to alisonmargo@gmail.com.