Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet 140
Here are a few excerpts from a book I recently read, "Brave," by Rose McGowan:
Our apartment was clean, but it was devoid of any kindness, which matched what was going on inside the walls. At this point, my father was deep in a rage he had had against women all his life, but now it had a clear focus: me. He would go off on me, and all women, calling me a “feminazi.” He sounded like your average schizophrenic on the street, arguing with some nonexistent entity about women, except I existed corporeally.
I have been dealing with men’s hatred of me simply because I am a woman for my entire life, and it all started with my dad. We were born enemies based on gender. His excuse for his rage, for every failure, was women. All women were to blame. Therefore, I was to blame. I came to hate him as he hated me. The worst part was remembering what a magical being he had been when I was little. This monster in his place was the worst kind of betrayal. There are few photos of me that exist during this period, because my father said I was too ugly to photograph. After my years in Oregon, I was used to being called ugly. I would roll my eyes when he said that, but it still stung.
We had no silverware at the Cave, or at least I didn’t. I was told I wasn’t worth buying silverware for. So I stole utensils from restaurants. I didn’t have a bed because I was told I wasn’t worth buying a bed for. My bedroom was the closet, where I slept on three pink square seat cushions taken from my aunt’s house. I wasn’t worth a lot in these days, apparently.
My father often said things like “I can’t imagine anybody would ever want to be your friend” or “I can’t imagine anybody liking you.” He called me a whore almost daily to the point where I’d finish his sentences. I’d verbally mimic him as he went along.
I knew he was wrong. I knew it was bullsh*t. The thing is, it still sticks. It gets through your walls of defense no matter how high you build them. It grinds you down, hearing this sort of stuff, day after day, being told you’re worthless or ugly.
Being a free-spirited, strong-willed, independent young woman (to put it mildly), with a manic-depressive, woman-hating father was exhausting (to put it mildly).
At least I could slide the closet door shut and be peaceful in the dark. Except I was not at peace. I never knew when he would come home, enraged by God knows what, spittle flying out of his mouth, wild dark eyes that refused to see me as anything other than everything he hated—a representation of all women.
One night the closet door got thrown open. A shaft of light blinded me, but I knew it was my father standing there. He let out a yell and grabbed me by my neck. He dragged me out of the closet and onto the floor. I managed to choke out that I was going to call the cops. He said, “I’ll staple your tongue to the floor.” I’ll never forget the hatred in his eyes, but it wasn’t even me he was seeing, it was all women. I knew this, but it didn’t make it easier.
Once I tried to tell my aunt what he was doing, but she got mad at me and told me he was the best father she knew. That effectively shut me up. I was stuck with him and I couldn’t see a way out. I used to sit in my bedroom/closet and write by flashlight on a yellow legal pad. I would write one thing, over and over, something I called “The Death Monologue.” It was a catalog, essentially, of my father’s sins and wrongs. My plan was to stand over my father while he lay in the dark on his bed and read it out loud. After delivering my blistering, operatic condemnation, I would then kill him with a meat mallet. Smooth on one side, spiky on the other, with a nice heft to the wooden handle. I was going to beat him to death.
Ironically, the perfectionism that had been ingrained in me by the cult that he’d forced me into probably saved me from spending my life in jail for murder, because I could never get my monologue quite right: each day I had to update the list of his a**hole-isms, so the list was never finished. Well, that and the fact I knew my father at this time wasn’t worth jail.
During the immediate period afterward, I couldn’t stop crying. One of my calls was to my manager. It was so f**ked up, she counseled me to see it as something that would help my career in the long run. I threw up. I felt like I was in a fun house and all the mirrors were reflecting my horrors. And my manager’s instinct was to squash everything, which just freaked me out more. How could she not have known? And if she did, how could the woman I trusted with my life set me up? I was terrified. I had fallen into a backward, f**ked-up world.
I called my management agency. The man who answered was a player, a powerful guy in town at the time. I told him what happened to me. And he said: “Goddamn it, I just had an exposé about him killed in the LA Times; he owes it to me not to do this.”
Oh my God. This man could have stopped this Monster from hurting me, but instead chose to do him a solid. It’s okay, right? I was just a girl. My brain was stunned into silence. Who were these awful people?
I started to hear rumblings around town. Snippets here and there. The Monster was blacklisting me. I heard he called every other studio and independent producer in town and said, “Don’t hire her. She’s bad news.” So many people heard about what had happened. It had spread like wildfire through Hollywood. One assistant tells another assistant, one producer tells another producer, and on and on. It seemed like every creep in Hollywood knew about my most vulnerable and violated moment. And I was the one who was punished for it. It’s like being assaulted over and over and over.
Women in the industry: Ladies, you need to step up and realize the men are never going to scoot aside for you; they’re not going to offer you a seat at their table, so build your own damn table. Figure it out, you can do it. In all other respects in your life, you’re a boss, right? So figure this one out. You got this.