And The Winner Is…

I loved the empowering acceptance speeches at the Oscars last night, and who doesn’t love watching their favorite star show off on the red carpet. But there was someone missing from the star-studded cast of hopefuls; A forgotten woman. She didn’t get nominated for anything, but men and women are paying a lot of lip service to her in their acceptance speeches.

She’s the woman who couldn’t make the party because she was blacklisted by a movie mogul who wanted sex. Mira Sorvino was one of these victims. Her nemesis: Harvey Weinstein. Mira’s a brilliant actress whose career was nearly ruined because she refused to get on the casting couch with that ruthless Neanderthal. Mira’s mad as hell and has proclaimed it’s #times up for her abuser.

She won’t be working with Woody Allen again, either. Mira will survive, but what about the less fortunate victims who aren’t strong enough to fight back. There are plenty of them. Truth is, when it comes to sexual harassment, Hollywood’s no different from the rest of America and the irony of watching liberal, progressive movies cast and filmed by sexist pigs is hard to overlook.

We’re imprisoned by a culture that applauds women who make impassioned acceptance speeches about sexual harassment while wearing see-through gowns. I love seeing my favorite stars in see-through gowns. I also love hearing them stand up to a male-dominated town that allows harassment. And like most people, I try to dismiss this hypocrisy as “just the way things are.” But the time has come to admit who we really are. I felt a weird, cognitive dissonance as I watched the scantily-clad dancers at the Grammys. I felt the same way as I watched Hillary Clinton take a stab at our sexist President, (but all the while, I couldn’t dismiss the fact that she herself had shielded at least one sexual predator.)

Who’s to blame for this? We point fingers at the accusers. We wring our hands and create new hashtags, but truth is we’re all to blame. Our Hollywood stars represent talent, beauty and all the grit it takes to make it to the top, right? No, not really. Our Hollywood stars are sometimes the darkest projection of our sick selves. We rubberneck their plight the same way we can’t take our eyes off a train wreck–we need Hollywood for reasons we can’t admit; in our hearts it’s that depraved place that could never be like were we live. Truth is Tinsletown’s a real place with real people who do the same things we do. Sexual depravity and equality may never be reconciled but we can start by admitting this hypocrisy is hardwired into all of us. Actors are beautiful, talented people who give great speeches, but this year, as they hold up those golden trophies, I think it’s time for us all to admit that the winner is our own sick selves.







Sexual Assault and Young People

I teach middle school, not a place you think you’d find sexting, or sexual assault. In the beginning of the year I make a poster to lay out procedures (we teachers don’t like to call them rules) for acceptable behavior in my classroom. At the top I write RESPECT and then I get my students to help me make a list of what is considered acceptable behavior. It used to be pretty straightforward; treat others the way you wish to be treated golden rule type of things. But that was before the sexual assaults on campus, the accusations of groping and body shaming, and the constant sexting made it clear we live in a different world then most parents and teachers ever imagined. Is it me, or is the problem getting worse? I knew sexual assaults are a reality on high school and college campuses, but I teach middle school. Last year I caught a sixth grader sharing a pic of his privates with another student. Am I out of touch? Maybe. But one thing I know for sure, parents and teachers need more tools to deal with sexually active young people. Not just rules and consequences, but a framework we can use to handle what has become a national epidemic.

Parents need tools to talk to their kids about what constitutes a healthy sexual relationship. Young people who are being bombarded with conflicting messages about sex, don’t know where to turn for advice. I have a simple solution for how to begin a dialogue on sex, young people and relationships.

Fiction, stories about subjects that we are too afraid to talk about; because fiction, at its best shines a light on those dark secrets we are too afraid to discuss. In the coming months, I will be asking young people to suggest fictional stories they really loved and wish their parents would read. Parents in turn, will be giving me a list of books they wish they could share with their kids. We will share these books and their important themes in a safe and respectful forum.

Do you want to join a national dialogue on sex and young people? Then please give me your email below. We will be sharing stories by great authors. Stories about dark, unspeakable themes in YA literature. We will do this to shine a light on the all too truthful fears we have about sexual assault. Join the dialogue today. Write me a message and answer this question: what story would you most like to share with your parent or child?

I look forward to sharing your answers next week.