International Day of the Badass

* TRIGGER/SEXUAL ASSAULT CONTENT WARNING *

Today marks the five year anniversary of being raped – my rapeversary if you will. Last year was the first time since January 29, 2016 that I felt even a sliver of my “old” self on this day. I declared the 29th day of this month the official International Day of the Badass, making all things related to rape and the aftermath of trauma my bitches. No apologies. Sorry not sorry.

Always and forfuckingever nasty.

I was feeling really fucking fabulous. Seeing the world through my pre-Rapegate rose colored glasses again and ready to celebrate any and everything but most specifically, honor all things ME. This motherfucking badass bitch was back.

And then, that cunt Rona showed her ugly face a little more than a month later and my entire world (along with the rest of the global population) went to shit a matter of days.

Who the fuck invited you here?

My trauma ticks (as I call them) that I worked so fucking hard to kick in four years of therapy cropped up whenever the fuck they felt it inconvenient. Stuttering, leg and foot bouncing, incessant itching at imaginary hot spots on my skin, stress induced cortisol dumping into my system, insomnia, the severity of my anxiety was back at its skyscraper height and my stomach hurt 24/7 with a deep side of sciatica (a new place my stress manifests itself in my bod).

Fun self inflicted times on my wrist, inner arm and ankle.

Feeling these regressions bubbling up sent me on a downward spiral so fucking fast, I was constantly treading water that was circling the drain. For me, it’s been the hardest part of Rona because I was JUST feeling foxy again, ready to strut my stilettos and resurfaced sassiness all over the pace. I hate the feeling of going backward (but who loves it unless we’re talking about aging?) and the grief attached to my trauma ticks, along with being isolated when I was ready to mingle with the world again about did me in.

Thank fuck for emotional support animals.

I had a four year out-of-body experience where I had to mourn the loss of my pre-rape life, the death of myself as I knew me –  as well as construct my resurrection. I’d trudged my way through an avalanche of the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But Rona took me straight back from a happier place of acceptance to the prior four stages any time she felt like fucking with me.

I think I chose my closet as my panic attack recovery space in 2016 because it’s small and sparkly for comfort.

Then, I was reminded that grief (and all of the shit that comes along with it) isn’t linear. 

Queen of the pivot turn.

I gave myself grace (or at least tried – still trying) and remembered Superhero Sheila’s sound advice. If you wouldn’t say it to one of the twins (that woman goes right for the dagger when she needs it), don’t say it to yourself.

It’s like Superhero Sheila is good at her job or something.

So I got my self talk back on some semblance of a cordial track and proceeded to make my way through the additional perils that 20fucking20 threw at every single citizen of the world in its own unique, shitty way.

I choose to wear sunglasses and fancy headpieces to cope.

But even as I try to forge ahead on this International Day of the Badass, my body and mind are constant companions leading up to this dreaded fucking day, kicking my PTSD into the highest of all gears. I wish there was a WD-40 for the bones because the worst is being in your body, not able to control it.

All because one thousand, eight hundred and twenty five days ago, I was raped by my best friend’s boyfriend while I slept on her couch, in her 600 square foot apartment after a wine and cryfest, grieving the sudden death of a young friend. I woke up to her boyfriend of five weeks on top of me, pajama pants at my knees, arms at my sides, his face in my neck. That was the moment the me as I knew her, died.

Later that day, I sat with my ass cheeks on thin paper, protecting me from any other prior ass cheeks that unfortunately found themselves sitting on the same exam table in the rape kit performance room. The overwhelming fumes of bleach almost resurrected me from the protective shock in which my body had retreated.

Emily Doe later revealed herself as Chanel Miller, the woman Brock Turner raped behind a Stanford dumpster.

“Do you want a rape advocate?” Detective Stupka (soon-to-be renamed Cuntka) questioned me after she recorded my statement of the illegal, intrusive sexual assault that took place several hours earlier. I couldn’t recall Shane the Rapist’s last name (that was listed in my phone, which was dead from being at the hospital waiting for eight hours on a rape kit), how was I able to know if I needed an advocate? What was an advocate? Did I need one? Detective Cuntka said she could not advise me and I somehow communicated that I did, in fact, want an advocate.

I still can’t wrap my brain around my bff not believing me nine hours after being raped, do I look like I can make a goddamned decision about anything?!

I believe rape victims should be assisted with an advocate, period. No questions asked. Just have one show up and let them do the talking because it was a good three years before my typically decisive as fuck ass could make any decision about ANYTHING.

I will just have one of everything on the menu because what do I want?

When Barbie the advocate tenderly walked into the room, careful not to touch me (when I just wanted her to sweep me up in her arms and tell me everything was gonna be OK – although that would have been a disservice on her part because nothing about being raped is ever OK, so, therefore, no hug took place). She spoke with the same amount of tenderness she used when she was inching toward me.

Where was one of my goddamn pussies when I needed them?!

Barbie resembled more of a Skipper than the actual Barbie doll with a petite frame, carrying a Louis Vuitton bag (that naturally, I admired and wondered if she had a phone charger tucked inside I could use) and was such a pleasant sight after the day kept spewing like uncontrollable bowels. After a few minutes of fill-in-what-horrible-thing happened to you, she looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Honey, there is going to be a before rape and an after rape moving forward in your life.”

It was one of those moments that you just know what’s being said is true, no matter how much you want it to be a lie.

My immediate thoughts of life after rape.

Barbie left the room to sit with Dada CBXB who was most likely wondering how in the fuck his Friday turned out so inexplicable. I sat waiting for the rape kit exam to commence after yet again being hazy on decision making when asked, “Do you want the Plan B pill? Did he wear a condom? Do you want to take the HIV preventative even though it will rob you of 30 days of your life since its effects are so brutal? Do you want to be tested for every STD in which science is aware? Have you eaten anything today? Here are crackers to take with the handful of pills we are giving you.”

I seriously can’t compute.

Upon completion of my rape kit and consumption of no less than 51 pills, I was handed a folder of information with numbers to national hotlines I could call, pamphlets of what to expect in the coming days, and instructions of when to take the next round of pills to rid my body of any other foreign substance left behind when Shane the Rapist raped me. It was like onboarding at a new job or getting every class syllabus on the first day of college. It was literature on what my life after rape was going entail.

I had no inkling of what the fuck I was up against.

Open ended ticket for one, please. @deepfriedfreckles

Nobody wants to be in this club. Nobody wants to be an expert on matters in which we never want to be associated. But rape happens. And there I was and here I am.

All too familiar when I wish I had no clue.

I miss my pre-rape life in the way your heart breaks when someone your world revolved around dies. The me I’d always known, died on January 29, 2016, and I had no idea how to bring myself back to life. Thing is, I was still breathing. I wasn’t dead. I just had no feeling left inside, which made me feel like a shell. Hollow, empty and alone.

You don’t have to cry for me because my eyes leaked enough fluid for nine lifetimes.

I found out who could withstand the shell of myself and who needed an exit. I immediately realized I was going to become a walking, talking rape victim stereotype (the victims that report, anyway) when interacting with Detective Cuntka when she told me 37 days after being raped over the phone that I was “one of 29 other cases she was working on. This was a he said/she said case so not much will come of it.” Oh sorry, this is my first time being raped and dealing with anything that accompanies. Please excuse my incessant questions about how this shit works. Chasing my case and any details became a second full time job.

Daily routines ceased existing and the depression bombarded its way in. Brushing teeth, washing my hair, applying make up (I was Ronafied ahead of the times), no polish on my claws because they became unbearable chores.

This is my version of silent screams for help.

No more hot yoga. No more running. No activities where I was alone with my own thoughts. I couldn’t get off of the couch and into my bed for six months to sleep, further exacerbating the endless cycle of depression, anxiety, nerves, self-loathing, shame, blame, fatigue and stress leaving me empty. Literally dead inside.

I gave zero shits.

Therapy has given me life-saving coping mechanisms. Medicines have made my daily life manageable. The kindness of human beings has been astounding and reinstated the belief that simple acts and words of love can do some serious healing. The outpouring of support once I was able to openly talk about my rape case after the grand jury found insufficient evidence to take Shane the Rapist to trial was astonishing.

After all of that recovery, after all of the therapy, after the shit show of 2020, now more than ever I understand that we all carry invisible wounds. And Rona brought all of my luggage back but this time around the baggage felt excruciatingly heavier.

Others can’t see the shame I carry. Others can’t see the guilt I hold (did I somehow ask for it?). Others can’t see the blame I assign myself every single second, minute, hour, day, month.

The year 2020 made it achingly obvious that people I love haven’t been listening to me and can’t – or worse yet – DON’T WANT to see mental anguish caused by society and the normalcy of rape culture.

Judgment is a fucking beast and after rape, it becomes an unwanted daily acquaintance at your breakfast, lunch, and supper table. I started eating at this fucking buffet again last year.

One thing I know to be true is that people who love you – really love you for you, don’t waiver. It’s been my family, my rock-solid friends, the folks who have come to my rescue via virtual friendships (silver lining of 2020!), the people who have re-entered my life to lift me up when I was sure I was going to drown…that all exists.

Here I stand five years later, my heart beating the last 1,825 days, feeling like a motherfucking badass once again. I now understand that grief is an emotion that exists even when life still is within. I died but I lived.

When I think about the people I love and the fur babies I’ve lost, I choose to celebrate them. Drink their favorite drinks, watch a favorite movie, look at photos, read old cards, love on my current Pussy Posse, share fucking funny stories with others that loved them, too. After forfuckingever five years, I am back to celebrating ALL THINGS ME again.

Sorry not sorry.

Join me in celebrating the International Day of the Badass.

This pussy grabs back.

“I won’t back down. I will stand my ground.” – Tom Petty

What are you celebrating on this International Day of the Badass? Because if you’re reading this, you’re one too.

Cheers to all of my best Badasses.

BELIEVE SURVIVORS.

CBXB

BUY ME A DRINK

Game Changing Moments

For everyone there are moments in our lives that epitomize time where we will never forget the place, the exact feeling of that minute.  I’m talking about the big life changers – births, space shuttles exploding, wedding days, traumatic events. Then there are the smaller instances you don’t realize the significance of what you’re about to experience and the way it will shape the days ahead, forever changing your life.

Like the occasion it was presented that life as a ballerina wasn’t on the table.

Maybe not ballet....

Step ball changing my way through elementary.

Maybe the time you realized Christina Aguilera was not singing about you in her hit song “Genie in a Bottle.”

No belly dancing...

Anyone got a magic carpet?

Could be when you realized you not only lacked the tact but also the appropriate attire for becoming a super model.

I see London I see France I see above your underpants.

I see London
I see France
I see above your underpants.

Pleated khakis look good on a runway…

Bitch, please.

..said no one ever.

Remember when you saw your first concert and it inspired you to be a rock star?

Judo chop!

You either have it or you don’t. This Elvis doesn’t.

Maybe the time you had the first bite of your now favorite delicatessen, you knew nothing else would ever taste this good.

Taste bud changer. Don't judge my classiness of food choice.

Taste bud changer.
Don’t judge my classiness of food choice.

Maybe it happened when you realized that the art of watching a collegiate football game would never again be a dull time if you add in some Skinny Pirates and moonshine?!

College football changer.

College football changer.

Possibly being educated about where feminine products are appropriately placed turned your world into a real life Monopoly board game, making all the difference.

Womanhood changer.

#SOS

A few months after the beginning of Rapegate, I found myself at the downtown Nashville police department that was all but deserted of anything reminiscent past the ’80s. I sat alone and waited impatiently for my name to be called so that I could further discuss my impending case against Shane the Rapist. My leg was inadvertently bouncing so hysterically that the lone security guard came over to ask me if I was OK.

GAME CHANGER.

MOTHER FUCKING GAME CHANGER.

I was to meet with a detective and make a ‘spoof’ phone call to my fucking rapist. A spoof phone call means that the detective would route a police phone to show up as my cell number on caller ID when calling Shane the Rapist. I was a fucking nervous wreck not ever wanting to speak with the dude who violated me again, let alone try to lure him into admitting he did it against my will over the phone. The detective came to escort me back and immediately said to me, “why are we doing this call so long after your assault.” Um, gee dude, I don’t fucking know. This is my first (and hopefully only) experience being raped.

When I sat to make the phone call, the detective could not figure out how to do the spoof correctly. He went to get two other veteran detectives who also could not get the spoof to work correctly. And there was no way in hell I was going to use my personal cell phone to call because what if Shane the Rapist called me back? So, the initial detective went and retrieved a manilla file folder that had a single piece of paper in it. When I glanced over, it was a printed out email with directions on how to conduct a spoof phone call from fucking 2006. An ENTIRE DECADE prior to this moment.

Three fucking stooges.

It was in that split second that my game changed. There was nothing I could do about the ineptitude about the “experts” handling my case like the Three Stooges as I sat there helpless trying not to let the tears of rage, frustration and fright fall down my cheeks.

It was in that split second that my game changed.

Right then and there.

I can’t help what happened to me. I can’t change the way I feel about this situation. I can’t help the sleepless nights, the not wanting to be alone with my thoughts, the shame I still experience. But I CAN do something about it. I’ve been fighting the fuck for my mental life and while it’s nothing short of a fucking marathon, I’m doing it.

News today came about a goddamn glorious friend who is nothing but exuberant, feisty as fuck and full of fire. This game changing moment dawned on me when I heard news about her prognosis with breast cancer. There she was one day, sitting in her doctor’s waiting room, headed in for a mammogram. And boom. Cancer.

Motherfucking unwanted game changer.

She can’t help what is happening to her body. She can’t change the way she feels about this situation. But she is fighting the fuck out of it. She has the support that resembles an army backing her, much the same as I do, when uncontrollable circumstances that are unfair as fuck arise.

My game changing uniform is now permanently on.

For her.

For me.

Here’s to kicking the shit out of the game changers we don’t want. The game changers for which we don’t ask. The game changing moments no one expects or wants in their lives.

Swinging for the fences of good game changers.

Love you friend.

CBXB

CBXB!

ENOUGH

Did NO ONE pay attention to the lessons of body basics in kindergarten? Keep your fucking hands to yourself. PERIOD.

Sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t new. Yet every time I hear another famous name added to the growing list of sexual harassers, it triggers me in a way due to my residual PTSD from Rapegate…and my own experiences with sexual advances in the workplace.

Sexual harassment has been around as long as …well, FOREVER. There isn’t one industry that a woman doesn’t deal with this issue from men in power (and not in power). But, this morning, I had to sit down with a heavy pit in my stomach after the announcement that Matt Lauer was fired from the “Today” show effective immediately. Why? Due to “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

While the specifics haven’t been disclosed, the incident reported to the network’s HR department included enough evidence to fire an anchor that had no prior complaints and 20 year tenure with NBC news. I have watched the “Today” show as long as I can remember, welcoming Matt and co-hosts into my home, strangely feeling like we were somehow friends. Savannah Guthrie summed up her shock and confusion extremely eloquently.

Obvious shock.

“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly and I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But I do know that this reckoning, that so many organizations have been going through, is important, it’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected. We are heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for Matt — he is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he has been loved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”

It’s just that – brave women and men coming forward – telling their awful experiences endured while working in environments where it can feel impossible to share incidents of abuse or harassment. I can’t applaud the decision to severe Lauer’s employment immediately enough.

Although I loved you Matt, boy BYE.

Of course, our always professional President of the United States, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 12 women had his two cents to contribute via Twitter:

“Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”

You’re such a fucking ass clown Donald Trump.

New to the NBC network, Megyn Kelly had this to say, “I see anguish on my colleagues’ faces. But when this happens, what we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who’ve found the courage to come forward. And that is a terrifying thing to do.”

Preach Megyn.

In light of yet another revelation of a man abusing his power, I’m sharing my own story of sexual harassment in the workplace again. Because I will beat this shit like a dead horse because it’s fucking ridiculous.

As chick in the career world, I’ve been told not to wear makeup and dress down working at a construction company home office because I was too “pretty” and the construction workers wouldn’t be able to control themselves from ogling when they came into the office. I abided by the request only to be let go about six months later for not looking “professional” enough. Is that harassment? Maybe just discrimination – but still. I said nothing. I felt disrespected, of course, and I lost my job because of my looks?

I’ve heard men at more than one company bitch about having to provide maternity leave (for women who are carrying YOUR FUCKING SPAWN and need to recover) when I’ve written handbooks with maternity – and paternity – leave included.

Most recently, I encountered sexual harassment at a job where I thought I would stay until retirement. It was in the music business and I started as an office manager. While the company worked with big and small artists alike, the core of its personnel was about 10 full-time employees (two of which were female, including myself, and were also the lowest two paid peeps there…even though we both had manager in our title).

As my comrade Slappy would say….

Going into any business environment eyes wide open, I worked with a vast array of people, which is why I loved the company so much. It was the most non-politically correct place – corporately speaking – and I was a contributor in every way. Lunch banter included topics of a dude asking me about Jesus when I was wearing only a leopard bra, an instance when I was sent a dick pic and I was once told I would be “punched in the tits” from an executive if I pinched him for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. None of it bothered me because I dished it right back. It wasn’t unnatural to ask a fellow employee how their weekend was with the response, “I got laid,” to which I started responding, “me too.” Swapping dirty jokes, tales of road mayhem and being able to freely be ourselves didn’t create a hostile work environment because we all respected each other.

Typical office equipment.

If anyone fucked with me (say the dick pic sender), I knew I had an army of fellow friends/brothers who had my back no matter what. Once, a new sales person let it be known that he was going to “fuck” me (oh and he was married with a wife and kids). He was immediately terminated when upper management found out after another employee overheard me telling someone. I felt valued no matter what my sex. We were all working our asses off together and I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

Decor often left on my desk.

As the company grew, we opened a new division and naturally, more folks were hired. One of them, the COO of the division and I became friends. Hell, we were all friends – with more of a small business family feel, even as we became a larger company. This COO, who I will fondly refer to as Piss Ant from here on out, was the person who fired the dude who wanted to “fuck” me. Piss Ant gave me airline miles to go home to Iowa and see my ailing Gma one summer. Piss Ant ranted and raved and sat in my office for hours on end and asked my opinions on everything from work to personal matters. Piss Ant was my friend.

Thanks for the miles and memories.

Piss Ant also loved power. And as he was granted more of it through his ability to land deals and bring in the big bucks to the company.  His tiny head grew bigger. And bigger. And bigger. AND BIGGER.

One day, he’d gotten back from a rather rough week on the road. He came to my office and said he needed a drink.

So we got him one.

The actual day.

He proceeded to get shit faced during the afternoon and unload dirty laundry from years past, present and what was to be his future. I listened. I gave advice. I also grew increasingly aware that this situation was about to take a wrong turn.

Uh….u-turn! U-TURN!

While sipping on moonshine at three in the afternoon (almost every office had some sort of alcohol in it – and it was nothing for folks to have a drink around quitting time), his stories got more personal. More sordid. More wistful. Wistful as in telling me I had a nice ass. As in telling me he married the wrong woman…he should have married me (his wife was at home pregnant). As in telling me I would never get married because I was too good for anyone. And, as you are all well aware, I’m no shrinking violet.

Fuck the shrink.

I immediately shut the shit down. I told him to stop fucking talking. That he would regret this later that night and especially the next day. I was being ‘cool’ – level headed, and as I went to get him some water, he followed me out of the office and pulled me into one of our dark rooms where designers could come and rehearse. It was pitch black and he slammed the door shut. He kept saying he wanted to kiss me. I kept telling him to back the fuck off and that he was going to have regret.

Once I manhandled him out of my way, I opened the door and went into the bathroom. When I came out, the note below was on my desk, folded neatly. As he sat in a chair in my office and giggled drunkenly, I responded the most flippant way that I knew how and told him he needed to go home.

Oh, you want to kiss me? In your fucking dreams.

And he did. And he called to apologize. And I told him that we all make mistakes. But I kept the note. Because I knew what happened wasn’t in the slightest bit OK.

Our working relationship recovered because I think as a woman, (and anyone else who has put up with this shit before) I HAD to move past the situation professionally. But personally, I was enraged. And confused. And conflicted. Piss Ant was my superior. Piss Ant was my friend, right? (Obviously wrong). What was I to do? Who was I to tell? What would be believed? Piss Ant was the company cash cow. What would this do to my career? Would this give me a tattletale reputation in the still small music industry Nashville?

WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

This is what goes through minds when sexually harassed, assaulted, abused.

I stayed silent.

Piss Ant was promoted to CEO. I was promoted to the executive team and I had no problem going toe-to-toe with him and his dictator style of micro-managing. He once called me to ask what my employees were doing. When I rebuffed with a ‘what are your employees doing’ it turned into a two-hour conversation about how he can run his division and I can run my department. He didn’t like that – but was always quick to apologize when he overstepped boundaries or knew conversations got heated for no reason due to himself.

He didn’t just bully me. He abused his power, he fucked with people for his own ego purposes and no one in the company was upset that he traveled 90% of the time. After I was promoted to his level as an executive, the work environment got extremely hostile and toxic for me. It felt like a personal witch hunt. Here was a man who used to show people a video I made while in an ‘80s cover band that showed a helluva lot of skin (you can’t see anything – trust me, my dad made sure of it) – to acting repulsed when he saw a photo of me modeling for a fellow employee’s jewelry line (who later became my direct report).

Said employee’s jewelry site was linked briefly (like 30 minutes) to our company Facebook when she was featured as the weekly team member. When Piss Ant clicked the link and found the above picture (that had been posted 10 months prior), he called and I immediately removed the link. You cannot tell it is me. My name is not mentioned. The company name is not mentioned but I completely understood why it needed to be unlinked. Problem solved, right?

Not so much. Three weeks later, I’m sitting in an office with Piss Ant, the president of the company, and an ultra conservative business consultant who knew (knows) nothing about the music industry and this photo is again brought to my attention. Piss Ant said an employee’s wife complained. When he told me who, I went to discuss the situation with him and he had no clue what I was fucking talking about. It was Piss Ant who had the “issue”.

One week later, the employee I had ‘modeled’ for – a member of my team – was terminated without my knowledge because they were ‘eliminating’ the position. A fucking social media position. Uh huh.

One month later, my position (which consisted of human resources, all administration, marketing, branding, production of new website, public relations, merchandising, company culture, company events, outside events, all things internal and external communication wise) was ‘eliminated’ and I was told by Piss Ant that I could now report to a new hire with 30 years of experience. The hired person was 29 years of age (who no longer is with the company – surprise – and has posted on their consulting website that they created everything I did at my tenure with the company. Classy fucking people, I tell ya). If I didn’t accept the new position offered to me (the social media position they eliminated just a month before), it would be considered a resignation on my behalf.

I was told that after almost four years with the company (who still had a former executive on a six month severance, which included healthcare and phone coverage) that they owed me nothing. As the conversation among us four executives got heated, we decided to take the night.

Well, you can imagine how that sat with me.

I was totally fine with it.

I came in the next day, knowing what was going to happen. I wasn’t going to be put into a corner, lay down and take it up the proverbial ass. When I brought the situation of sexual harassment with the note to a fellow executive, I was told to keep quiet, or I would receive no severance. The president had taken pictures of a box of wine I kept by my trashcan under my desk – again no secret that drinking took place at the office, as every single manager had either a mini fridge or a full bar in plain sight. I was told their lawyer was powerful, to take my severance, and they would send an email out to the company saying they eliminated my position and we would part ways (the email sent said I left of my own accord – again FUCK OFF).

Did you guys know I like to drink? Fucking secret’s out.

After I signed termination paperwork, tears were shed by Piss Ant as he walked me out the office front door and he said he didn’t agree with the way things went down. He didn’t agree with my leaving. He didn’t agree with the hire that was made in my place (FUCK OFF. He went to lunch with the replacement, gave the replacement the budget I had created, handed my department over, etfuckingcetera). He said he wanted to help me find another job. He said he would call. AS HE BAWLED.

I have yet to hear from him.

I can only hope that no one ever treats his daughter the way he treated me. The way he treats women. The way he treats other humans in general. But I sure as shit hope karma gets him.

Karma’s coming for you Piss Ant.

Sexual harassment isn’t new. Hostile work environments aren’t new. Men (and even women) abusing their status of power isn’t new. It’s also not going away anytime soon. But for me, this is about standing the fuck up for yourself. This is about standing up for those who can’t – or don’t – or feel unable (as I did). This is about awareness. This is about placing responsibility where it belongs. On the harassers. The predators. The abusers of power.

It’s not me. It’s YOU.

My takeaway from my horrible work experience(s), the career ruiner (what if I told? what would it do to my career in the music industry? would I be judged?), my anger (I still carry) is this –  it elevated me and gave me the gusto to tell when I was raped a month later.

I will never be silent. Ever again.

I will shout forever.

For you.

For me.

For them.

ME FUCKING TOO.

CBXB

Me Fucking Too

This shit isn’t new.

Sexual harassment has been around as long as …well, FOREVER. There isn’t one industry that a woman doesn’t deal with this issue from men in power (and not in power).

I mean, hello.

As chick in the career world, I’ve been told not to wear makeup and dress down working at a construction company home office because I was too “pretty” and the construction workers wouldn’t be able to control themselves from ogling when they came into the office. I abided by the request only to be let go about six months later for not looking “professional” enough. Is that harassment? Maybe just discrimination – but still. I said nothing. I felt disrespected, of course, and I lost my job because of my looks?

I’ve heard men at more than one company bitch about having to provide maternity leave (for women who are carrying YOUR FUCKING SPAWN and need to recover) when I’ve written handbooks with maternity – and paternity – leave included.

Most recently, I encountered sexual harassment at a job where I thought I would stay until retirement. It was in the music business and I started as an office manager. While the company worked with big and small artists alike, the core of its personnel was about 10 full-time employees (two of which were female, including myself, and were also the lowest two paid peeps there…even though we both had manager in our title).

As my comrade Slappy would say….

Going into any business environment eyes wide open, I worked with a vast array of people, which is why I loved the company so much. It was the most non-politically correct place – corporately speaking – and I was a contributor in every way. Lunch banter included topics of a dude asking me about Jesus when I was wearing only a leopard bra, an instance when I was sent a dick pic and I was once told I would be “punched in the tits” from an executive if I pinched him for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. None of it bothered me because I dished it right back. It wasn’t unnatural to ask a fellow employee how their weekend was with the response, “I got laid,” to which I started responding, “me too.” Swapping dirty jokes, tales of road mayhem and being able to freely be ourselves didn’t create a hostile work environment because we all respected each other.

Typical office equipment.

If anyone fucked with me (say the dick pic sender), I knew I had an army of fellow friends/brothers who had my back no matter what. Once, a new sales person let it be known that he was going to “fuck” me (oh and he was married with a wife and kids). He was immediately terminated when upper management found out after another employee overheard me telling someone. I felt valued no matter what my sex. We were all working our asses off together and I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

Decor often left on my desk.

As the company grew, we opened a new division and naturally, more folks were hired. One of them, the COO of the division and I became friends. Hell, we were all friends – with more of a small business family feel, even as we became a larger company. This COO, who I will fondly refer to as Piss Ant from here on out, was the person who fired the dude who wanted to “fuck” me. Piss Ant gave me airline miles to go home to Iowa and see my ailing Gma one summer. Piss Ant ranted and raved and sat in my office for hours on end and asked my opinions on everything from work to personal matters. Piss Ant was my friend.

Thanks for the miles and memories.

Piss Ant also loved power. And as he was granted more of it through his ability to land deals and bring in the big bucks to the company.  His tiny head grew bigger. And bigger. And bigger. AND BIGGER.

One day, he’d gotten back from a rather rough week on the road. He came to my office and said he needed a drink.

So we got him one.

The actual day.

He proceeded to get shit faced during the afternoon and unload dirty laundry from years past, present and what was to be his future. I listened. I gave advice. I also grew increasingly aware that this situation was about to take a wrong turn.

Uh….u-turn! U-TURN!

While sipping on moonshine at three in the afternoon (almost every office had some sort of alcohol in it – and it was nothing for folks to have a drink around quitting time), his stories got more personal. More sordid. More wistful. Wistful as in telling me I had a nice ass. As in telling me he married the wrong woman…he should have married me (his wife was at home pregnant). As in telling me I would never get married because I was too good for anyone. And, as you are all well aware, I’m no shrinking violet.

Fuck the shrink.

I immediately shut the shit down. I told him to stop fucking talking. That he would regret this later that night and especially the next day. I was being ‘cool’ – level headed, and as I went to get him some water, he followed me out of the office and pulled me into one of our dark rooms where designers could come and rehearse. It was pitch black and he slammed the door shut. He kept saying he wanted to kiss me. I kept telling him to back the fuck off and that he was going to have regret.

Once I manhandled him out of my way, I opened the door and went into the bathroom. When I came out, the note below was on my desk, folded neatly. As he sat in a chair in my office and giggled drunkenly, I responded the most flippant way that I knew how and told him he needed to go home.

Oh, you want to kiss me? In your fucking dreams.

And he did. And he called to apologize. And I told him that we all make mistakes. But I kept the note. Because I knew what happened wasn’t in the slightest bit OK.

Our working relationship recovered because I think as a woman, (and anyone else who has put up with this shit before) I HAD to move past the situation professionally. But personally, I was enraged. And confused. And conflicted. Piss Ant was my superior. Piss Ant was my friend, right? (Obviously wrong). What was I to do? Who was I to tell? What would be believed? Piss Ant was the company cash cow. What would this do to my career? Would this give me a tattletale reputation in the still small music industry Nashville?

WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

This is what goes through minds when sexually harassed, assaulted, abused.

I stayed silent.

Piss Ant was promoted to CEO. I was promoted to the executive team and I had no problem going toe-to-toe with him and his dictator style of micro-managing. He once called me to ask what my employees were doing. When I rebuffed with a ‘what are your employees doing’ it turned into a two hour conversation about how he can run his division and I can run my department. He didn’t like that – but was always quick to apologize when he overstepped boundaries or knew conversations got heated for no reason due to himself.

He didn’t just bully me. He abused his power, he fucked with people for his own ego purposes and no one in the company was upset that he traveled 90% of the time. After I was promoted to his level as an executive, the work environment got extremely hostile and toxic for me. It felt like a personal witch hunt. Here was a man who used to show people a video I made while in an ‘80s cover band that showed a helluva lot of skin (you can’t see anything – trust me, my dad made sure of it) – to acting repulsed when he saw a photo of me modeling for a fellow employee’s jewelry line (who later became my direct report).

Said employee’s jewelry site was linked briefly (like 30 minutes) to our company Facebook when she was featured as the weekly team member. When Piss Ant clicked the link and found the above picture (that had been posted 10 months prior), he called and I immediately removed the link. You cannot tell it is me. My name is not mentioned. The company name is not mentioned but I completely understood why it needed to be unlinked. Problem solved, right?

Not so much. Three weeks later, I’m sitting in an office with Piss Ant, the president of the company, and an ultra conservative business consultant who knew (knows) nothing about the music industry and this photo is again brought to my attention. Piss Ant said an employee’s wife complained. When he told me who, I went to discuss the situation with him and he had no clue what I was fucking talking about. It was Piss Ant who had the “issue”.

One week later, the employee I had ‘modeled’ for – a member of my team – was terminated without my knowledge because they were ‘eliminating’ the position. A fucking social media position. Uh huh.

One month later, my position (which consisted of human resources, all administration, marketing, branding, production of new website, public relations, merchandising, company culture, company events, outside events, all things internal and external communication wise) was ‘eliminated’ and I was told by Piss Ant that I could now report to a new hire with 30 years of experience. The hired person was 29 years of age (who no longer is with the company – surprise – and has posted on their consulting website that they created everything I did at my tenure with the company. Classy fucking people, I tell ya). If I didn’t accept the new position offered to me (the social media position they eliminated just a month before), it would be considered a resignation on my behalf.

I was told that after almost four years with the company (who still had a former executive on a six month severance, which included healthcare and phone coverage) that they owed me nothing. As the conversation among us four executives got heated, we decided to take the night.

Well, you can imagine how that sat with me.

I was totally fine with it.

I came in the next day, knowing what was going to happen. I wasn’t going to be put into a corner, lay down and take it up the proverbial ass. When I brought the situation of sexual harassment with the note to a fellow executive, I was told to keep quiet, or I would receive no severance. The president had taken pictures of a box of wine I kept by my trashcan under my desk – again no secret that drinking took place at the office, as every single manager had either a mini fridge or a full bar in plain sight. I was told their lawyer was powerful, to take my severance, and they would send an email out to the company saying they eliminated my position and we would part ways (the email sent said I left of my own accord – again FUCK OFF).

Did you guys know I like to drink? Fucking secret’s out.

After I signed termination paperwork, tears were shed by Piss Ant as he walked me out the office front door and he said he didn’t agree with the way things went down. He didn’t agree with my leaving. He didn’t agree with the hire that was made in my place (FUCK OFF. He went to lunch with the replacement, gave the replacement the budget I had created, handed my department over, etfuckingcetera). He said he wanted to help me find another job. He said he would call. AS HE BAWLED.

I have yet to hear from him.

I can only hope that no one ever treats his daughter the way he treated me. The way he treats women. The way he treats other humans in general. But I sure as shit hope karma gets him.

Karma’s coming for you Piss Ant.

Sexual harassment isn’t new. Hostile work environments aren’t new. Men (and even women) abusing their status of power isn’t new. It’s also not going away anytime soon. But for me, this is about standing the fuck up for yourself. This is about standing up for those who can’t – or don’t – or feel unable (as I did). This is about awareness. This is about placing responsibility where it belongs. On the harassers. The predators. The abusers of power.

It’s not me. It’s YOU.

My takeaway from my horrible work experience(s), the career ruiner (what if I told? what would it do to my career in the music industry? would I be judged?), my anger (I still carry) is this –  it elevated me and gave me the gusto to tell when I was raped a month later.

I will never be silent. Ever again.

I will shout forever.

For you.

For me.

For them.

ME FUCKING TOO.

CBXB

 

 

Weekend Winks – Rapegate, Pool Parties and Fang Fingers

You guys really know how to help a gal when she’s down and out! The overflowing abundance of support from my Rapegate post restored any questionable faith in humanity I may have had prior to posting. Not only was writing about the trauma cathartic for me, as now the matter is out in the open and I can talk about it, but also I didn’t expect the feelings of relief – conflicted with a little bit of fear when I hit the ‘publish’ button on the post.

What’s a gal who likes to celebrate do with mixed emotions and feelings of waves as large of a tsunami? She cracks open a bottle of champs given to her by gal pal Saving Grace (I was saving it for a momentous occasion – and this felt like one) while bawling and laughing at the same time. Yes, I’m still a hot mess.

Cheers to the release of yesteryear! Oh, and of course, FUCK 2016.

The outpouring of your support – my army that each and every one of you reading right now is a part of – lifted me up so high, so fast I just can’t thank you enough for the kind words, comments, messages, cards, letters, sharing of your own traumas, calls, texts and visits. While I might be Captain Sparkly Pants, you all have been nothing short of soldiers supporting one of their own. For that, I thank the fuck out of you.

Every single portion of Rapegate has been riddled with road bumps. So it’s onward and upward as I move forward, navigating unknown terrain even to my Sex Crimes Detective. We’ll get that worked out, I’m sure.

The wrong woman was fucked. Literally and figuratively.

Warm fuzzies are creeping back into the cracks of my emotions. My heart swelled a little when my phone reminded me over the weekend of cherished moments my sister and Gma shared on the last days of our grandma’s life. Of course, I had a picture of my stank-eyed pussy Ted, too, from that day.

Three of my favorite peeps still today.

When I texted the photos to my sister, we talked about how fast it’s gone – feeling like maybe it should be the first year.

It’s true. In two years, our extended family has gone through two divorces, a birth (yay!), rape (that’d be mine), cancer (that’d be Aunt Crazy Pants), a cross-country move for a cousin….just to name a few.

While reminiscing over the last two years, Facebook had an amusing memory from five years ago of Dada CBXB and I having a patio party, after we’d done some planting (in pots, to which didn’t make of course).

Funny, we already had plans to ‘decorate’ my mini manse loggia (fancy word I learned from a previous, rich employer that means back porch as I kept saying back porch and she kept correcting me that it was a loggia). So we hit up the flower hot spot for ferns, all pink flowers and some sort of palm thing that is going to go great with my pink flamingo (of course a gal like me has plant accessories before the actual plant).

Green thumbs galore.

Because that thirty minutes was so exhausting, we spent the rest of the day playing at the pool.

Fun fun in the sun.

My favorite pussy also likes to relax in the rays but I just can’t help myself and have to take a picture. This is always the glare I get when I get caught mid snap.

Resting bitchy face with a case of the side eye.

Wanna know what those two Iowa twins are up to? Well, first off they have graduated from pre-school.

Get out the caps and gowns.

Naturally, this meant celebrating was in order and they didn’t hate one minute of it.

Starting with snow cones.

Celebration splash pad style.

Their parents even took them to see where it all began. At the bar in Iowa City, where my sister approached her future husband at the very booth below for a cigarette (obviously the trashtacular classiness runs in the family). He didn’t smoke (neither did she) but it all worked out and here we are today…

Taking it back to where all of the magic began.

Being that they’d visited a festival, Princess B had to get her face painted – and clearly thought it was poorly done as you can see from the photo below.

Hello gorgeous.

Graduating from pre-school also calls for dessert.

Sweets for the sweets.

Dessert that was good to the last drop.

Yep. Definitely takes after her aunt CBXB.

Something else seeping back in through the cracks of this gal is nail painting and t-shirt bedazzling. Nashville’s NHL team, the Nashville Predators have made it to the Stanley Cup finals (for those of you who don’t know hockey – it’s like the Superbowl. For those of you who don’t know what that is, just look at the nails and sparkly shirt below) for the first time ever in our franchise’s history. I joined in on the fanfare with Predator colored nails and blinged up a shirt to boot.

Fang Fingers is what the crowd does here in Nashville when the opposing team has to go to the penalty box. They play the music from the shower scene in Psycho and fans seriously stand there and move two fingers from both hands in a clawing motion. We may look like ass clowns but we don’t care. Also, I was so pumped to get this shirt because aside from getting to see our mascot Gnash come down from the ceiling before every game, I can’t ever wait to do Fang Fingers.

All out sparkle for my fave Cinderella NHL team.

The Predators were on no one’s radar and have had the heart, fight and spirit of Nashville behind them. For real, the entire city could not be more proud. This is a photo of the main artery in Nashville on game day. It stemmed from the stadium with an overflow of people who couldn’t get in to the game (due to the insane ticket prices) down ten blocks to the river. Not to mention the packed bars and restaurants.

Game day in Smashville.

While the Preds are behind in the series 2-1, you can help cheer them on with me at 7pm CST on NBCSN.  They whooped some ass on Saturday with final score being 5-1. Badasses.

Speaking of badass, here’s how I pumped up my mental state closing out the weekend.

The inner badass is coming back…

You guys are my badasses. My army of badasses. I love each and every one of you.

Hooah!

CBXB

CBXB!