How would you feel if your future rested in the hands of someone who could make it happen, and that no matter what they did to you, you had to be okay with it?
In a powerful piece by writer, playwright and New Girl creator, Liz Meriwether for The Cut, details an excruciatingly uncomfortable encounter she had with a ‘powerful man’ in his hotel room to supposedly talk business, but then he pointed to the bed and said “You know, there’s a bed in there.” She brushed the barely concealed invite off, laughing.
The situation escalates from queries about her sexual history to unwanted physical contact, then Liz explains why in that moment she suddenly ‘turned into a coward.’
“Eventually the meeting was over, and he walked me to the door of the suite,” Liz Meriwether wrote. “I was starting to feel relieved it was over, when he suddenly grabbed my shoulders and held me in front of the gilded hallway mirror. I couldn’t move.”
She continued, “He was watching me through the mirror. I could barely bring my head up. He said, ‘Look. Look at yourself. Do you see how beautiful you are?’”
“It was at that moment that I did something insane. I started laughing. Like, uproariously laughing. It was not a fun laugh. It was one of those crazy, terrifying laughs,” she continued, “I turned my head and looked at him, still laughing, and said, ‘This is my worst nightmare!’ That must have surprised him or offended him, because then he let me go.”
Liz continued that the experience didn’t feel real at all, and even goes through the motions of figuring out if anything she said could have been mistaken for flirtation.
Like many women who have encountered sexual harassment or assault, she goes into blame mode: For even telling some of her sexual experiences, and going up the hotel room in the first place.
Many victims of assault or harassment are often faulted on why they are attacked; rather than placing the responsibility on the attacker himself.
Most attackers are also either someone the victim knows, or someone who is in a better position than they are — physically, financially, or with regards to their employment.
Liz wrote that for many years, she felt miserable that her silence meant this “powerful man” could possibly do it to another woman.
But understandably, her attacker could also influence the outcome of something Liz loved to do: to write and possibly make a living out of her writing.
But in light of the Harvey Weinstein expose, Liz shared that her experience and its elements were something Weinstein’s victims were all too familiar with, but added that she realizes now her actions were also something shared by women in various industries.
“Silence is as destructive as it is contagious,” the producer wrote. “If we tell ourselves that no one and everyone is to blame — if we shrug our shoulders and say “welcome to Hollywood” — nothing will ever change. All of us cowards need to take this moment to think about our choices and speak out in whatever way we can. The women who are standing up and actually pointing fingers are unimaginably brave.”
“Life is a mess,” she added, “Yes, I am a coward, but let’s be clear: The man in the hotel room is to blame.”