cosby & effect

there is a lot of despicable in the world.
a lot.
i keep reading the stuff about bill cosby, and i keep wanting to share a secret – my secret – with you. and then i get scared and think, no. it’s a bit ugly & dirty and god knows… and god knows: it’s in the details. but i talked to ken about it, and he said, yeah, share it. tell it. maybe it’ll make a difference. so, i’m standing on the ledge, and i know i won’t fall. someone is gonna catch me.

i was 17.
i was 17 and had already quit high school, had already lost my virginity (at 15), had already spent some time on a commune, and i came back to new york, and the shame i had was so very deep, and so big, and honestly, it was like wearing a big old coat that just, you know, hung on me. a big coat with all kinds of shit stuffed into the pockets.

i was 17.
i needed a job.

i wanted to work in the garment district, because, i loved clothes. loved. clothes. i had a job interview with a pretty well known – okay, famous  – designer, who is no longer alive, but trust me, he was a big fucking deal when i was 17. and so, i got myself all prettied up, and took the LIRR into new york city, and walked from penn station to his showroom. i was not very confident in those days. i hid behind heavy eyeliner, mascara, and a mass of unruly curls. i waited – with a few other girls, who were seemingly all older than me – in the outer reception area. the job was for a receptionist. you didn’t need a lot of talent to be a receptionist, but you did need to know how to work a phone. and from what i gathered, was told, you needed to answer the phone with a side of perky, and polite. i watched as a few of the other girls came and went. they all went into his office with hope, and possibility, and all came out… deflated.
maybe even disgusted.
but i didn’t know that then, in that moment.
i just knew that they went in, came out, and none got the job. then it was my turn. i went into his office. a big beautiful office. filled with samples and colors and designs and fabulous art work and a big desk and a bigger couch and he asked me a few questions that all seemed to be related to being a receptionist. yes, i can take messages, yes i can answer a phone, yes, i can type… a little…yes, i can make appointments. and then he asked me how badly i wanted the job. i said a lot. i really wanted the job. and then he got up from his chair, and walked over to me, and asked how badly. and i said, “well, very badly.” i needed the job. and he asked, “enough to give me a blow job?” and i had to think about that for a few moments, and i couldn’t say the word, so, i shook my head: yes. yes. and i gave him a blow job, and it was ugly and vile and god, i felt so fucking dirty. and i got the receptionist job. a swap. sort of. right then and there, i got the job. and i never gave him another blow job, ever. not once. and he didn’t ask me to give him another blow job. i knew that he wasn’t gonna be my boyfriend, or take me out to fancy dinners, or set me up in an apartment with all the, you know, trimmings. i knew that. i knew that because a) he had a wife – i always read about her –  and b) one blow job does not a girlfriend make. i worked there for about a year. and other girls came and went for other job openings and listings, and it was kind of easy to tell who got the job, and who didn’t. did he assault me? no, he didn’t. did he take advantage of me? loaded question. or maybe not so loaded. i could have said no. i could have said no. he didn’t force me to blow him. he didn’t grab my head and push me down on him. i wanted the job, and i needed the money, and i sold myself way fucking short. way short. but this is the truth. i was 17. i didn’t know – or better yet, feel, i didn’t feel – i had a choice. i didn’t know that there would be, or could be another job somewhere else. i had so little self-esteem and self-worth. so very little. and that’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. a truth. you can fake an orgasm, but you can’t fake self-worth. i mean, how many of us could’ve asked our boyfriends to wear a condom, to not cum inside us, but didn’t, and how many of us got pregnant, and had an abortion? and so when i read about bill cosby, i think two things, well, actually three… i think there were and are many girls like that 17 year old me. many. many who would get on their knees, and blow someone because they wanted/needed a job, or the guy was cool, or famous, or maybe their ticket out, and they didn’t feel they had or have the power to say no. no is a hard word to say when you have no confidence. and then there are many girls, many women – thousands upon thousands – who were, and are sexually assaulted. raped. horribly and viciously assaulted. girls and women who are most definitely assaulted by a guy, famous or not, and felt and feel undoubtedly scared and powerless. again, no is not an easy word to say, and is often – much too often – not an easy word to be heard. it’s amazing how many times you have to scream it.

and then there’s this: when i was the receptionist at this fabulous and famous showroom, his wife would often come by, mostly at the end of the day because they would be going to events or dinners or parties, all sorts of glamorous, sexy, fabulous nights out on the town. and she would drape herself on his arm, and fall all over him. she would be head to toe in the most stunning outfits. perfect. head to fucking toe. but before she would drape herself on his arm, fall all over him, she would watch the sample models strutting around, and the dazzling salesgirls pitching his fall or spring collection, and she knew, she absolutely knew, how they got their jobs. she knew it, because no doubt she had been one of us a few years before. and i can tell you this much about her, what i remember, what really stood out, wasn’t the huge fucking rock on her left ring finger, wasn’t the perfectly coiffed hairstyle by kenneth, wasn’t the fabulous (and now politically incorrect) chinchilla coat, it was the deep sad she wore in her eyes. you can nip and tuck, and pull, and fucking tighten everything, but you can never ever hide, or run from that dull humiliated, embarrassed kinda sad.

we all – the showroom girls, the twirling models, his wife and me – shared one thing in common: none of us, not one of us, had the confidence to say no, or no more.

Category: Uncategorized 27 comments »

27 Responses to “cosby & effect”

  1. Stacy Thunes

    Oh Amy Amy Amy I wish I could hug you and thank you in person for your bravery. I love you. You give me the courage to say no. It’s taken me all these years, 53 of them, but I said no for the first time last night and it felt good.

  2. Eileen Flanagan

    What if every woman told the truth about her life? What if we saw each other as potential allies instead of competition? Thank you, Amy, for modeling the truth-telling than undermines shame.

  3. Hollye Dexter

    Brava Amy, for telling your truth. I believe we all have humiliating stories like this. I know I do. I gave myself to men who didn’t deserve me, on the outside chance that they might love me. Maybe young girls will read this, and when they find themselves in that situation, they will think twice about what their honor means to them.

    Love you.

  4. Maya North

    Oh, love, it was still rape. And he knew it. It was his shame, too, never yours. Never. And so I will say out loud that I was molested at ages 4 and 9, raped orally by a boyfriend at 15 and gang raped in a fraternity by who knows how many, but I could hear them waking up the whole house. I shame myself with my own evil choices, but this shame, this degradation was never mine any more than it was the desperate, shattered hungry child that monster abused. The blame and shame were always his.

    I love you.

  5. Beth Dunnington

    Oh Amy. Just sitting here in Hawaii on this computer so filled up by the fact that if we all told the truth… the hard truth, like this, like what you wrote, we would all, collectively, heal. The shame is the secret more than the act. We hide so much under that beautiful rug… just pull it back and there’s all the shit that accumulated over time. All the stuff underneath. You just ripped off the rug and showed us every particle and made us look at it. And THAT”S where it all begins. You’re unbelievable. You’re riding high on Moxie and the love and adoration of so many, especially women, so many women, and what do you do with that? You dig into the dark truth, go right for the shame, ask us to look at it, hear it, read it, let it in, get it, and then let it go… and so we do. And I am playing out every one of my own stories like this because you wrote this. You release all of us from that really bad thing that happened. That thing that no one is writing about, or saying. So of course, YOU are. I am going to read this again, and share it, and talk about it. And I didn’t think I could love or appreciate you more. And I do, Amy. God. Yes. Hard and fierce. The truth.

  6. judywhite

    My brave one. Who owns herself now, and owns all her past, and owns her present, and owns her own future. I continue to be so proud of you. xoxoxo

  7. Corie

    For twenty five years I sat in a little room listening to ancient confessions like this one that kept people tortured, humiliated and small for far, far too long. What I can tell you I learned from all that listening is this, Amy: Nothing, NOTHING heals the heart like hearing someone say, “Me, too. I got hurt, I hurt myself, I let someone hurt me, I sometimes feel broken and worthless. Me, too. You are not the only one.” I’m not sure why it’s so, I just know that it is true. The most powerful balm to the human spirit is knowing that no matter what we have endured, we are not alone. This story will comfort more women than you can even imagine. I hope your kindness and generosity are returned many times over.

  8. Nancy

    Yes, me too. Me too Amy. Thank you for being so brave in sharing about a cowardly man.

  9. Sivan

    You are brave, Amy Ferris. Brave and bold and beautiful. Wear those scars like stardust!

  10. Aprille Bernard

    Love you Amy. True things stand the test of time..Love, emotion, dignity in the face of adversity. We all once were young and so eager for all life had /has for us in store. We all do and have done what we have had to do to survive. We all have our secrets and our moments. Thank you for putting this out there. I don’t think anyone should ever have regret for the choices they have made in their life. “Merrily, Merrily Merrily Merrily, Life is but a dream..” 🙂 <3

  11. Marybeth Florian

    Thank you for sharing. You are who you are as a result of what happened to 17 year old you and what you are is BRAVE

  12. Marie Beswick-Arthur

    …and the truth it sets her free.

    …and I love that you love so fiercely that your words invite me to explore my own freedom.

    …and for that, I am deeply grateful. You are a mountain of courage.

  13. Colleen Haggerty

    Kudos to you, Amy! Writing this took guts. Posting it took courage. Underneath is likely the shame you carried for years. Whenever we share these stories, we become stronger and our strength spreads. Thank you.

  14. Bill Larkin

    Nice piece of writing, gonna have to read your book. I am a first timer to this blog, work with a woman with your same name (exactly) and she also LOVES George Clooney and she turned me onto your blog.

    The shame comes from the fact the act is wrong(for you), and you know it, but do it anyhow. Not from the fact that the act is kept secret.

    One has to have absolute standards of behavior, so when we are put in these difficult positions we default to our personal standard, no exceptions.

    I think you are on to something re the wife too. Anyone who makes that their modus operandi is a nasty human, It’s one thing if you do it without quid pro quo, but to connect it to the job he was clearly using the leverage he had to show his power over you. Kinda sick really. So I am sure it is no day at the beach being married to someone like that.

  15. THE WITCH haha Charlotte :-)

    you want matter were you standing on… we are your parachutes, you will always land safely Amy…….

  16. Barbara Pottter

    Oh Amy. You. Are. So. Brave. There are stories I could tell. I did not know how to say no as young as 5 as far back as I can remember.
    Little girl lost was what I was. Love you.

  17. Esther

    Name him. It would help I think. Otherwise you’re protecting a monster, no? I don’t ask lightly, but I do think it helps others, especially the “Cosby” women who are still yet to voice their stories.

    If a sexual predator has done it once, 100% there will be more victims.

    Help those women too.

  18. Amanda

    Oh, yes, you could have said “No way” and walked out like the rest of the disgusted girls. Don’t excuse yourself from your sorry excuses.

  19. Amanda

    Salemanship: 101. For every 100 propositions, there will be at least 3 takers. You bought it, girl! All your sorry excuses don’t mean anything. You could have said ‘No way” and walked out disgusted like the girls who knew their worth.

  20. amy ferris

    amanda – i don’t know who you are – but here’s the thing. 43 years ago, i wasn’t that brave. i couldn’t say no, and maybe you have been brave & courageous all your life, but i wasn’t. now i am. at the age of 60, i am very brave. i can say no… i can tell someone to go fuck themselves… i can make a ruckus, but back then when i was 17, i had no self-worth or self-esteem, and i would wager there are many – many, many, many – 17 year old girls who felt and feel the same way. so, i was one of the 97, per your equation, who didn’t know their worth. but i am one of thousands upon thousands now who do. they aren’t sorry excuses, amanda, they’re a fact. i’m sorry that you feel the need to be so horribly judgmental toward young girls who were filled (and are) with tremendous fear of standing up for they own lives. i’m not deleting your comments (yet), but i am going to ask you to think before you hit send. thank you very much.

  21. Reticula

    I was one of the 97% too, and I still carry that girl around inside me. Like you, Amy, I don’t need anybody else’s judgement all these years later, because my own is terrible and far more personal than that of some internet troll. But I am a whole person with decades more experience than I had then.

    Thank you for telling your story, Amy. Many of us can relate to the lesson you learned.

  22. Dawn Downey

    Amy, I’m glad you left Amanda’s comments up long enough so that I could add mine in your support. I’m also one of the 3 takers who bought it, according to her math. I had no self-esteem at 17. Actually, I’m 64 now and I think I started to get self-esteem around the middle of last year! So thank you for telling us what happened. I follow your blog and think you’re quite cool and have it all together. Now your cool quotient has gone through the roof. It’s always good to be reminded that my self criticism reflects an impossible standard, which I’ll never live up to. I want to say to every woman who’s harboring secrets like this –– It wasn’t your fault.

  23. Debbi

    God Amy … you are so unbelievably brave. You have written your story so beautifully and so powerfully and I get it. And I love you. And I’m sorry you felt “not very confident” way back then and I understand “not feeling confident.” This topic has had me so angry as well for all of us who have found ourselves in situations where we were taken advantage of but NO ONE would believe we were taken advantage of. I have contemplated telling a story of my own … how easily rape can happen and how you don’t have to be bound and beat up in order to call it rape. I understand all too well how these women are being judged. It makes me sick. Because they are telling their stories and so many people accuse them of being stupid. Of just wanting money or fame. No one dares to call Cosby what he is … a fucking rapist. A serial rapist. That ugly double standard STILL exists. That is why women do not report rape. They don’t want to be judged. They’re embarrassed. Ashamed. Humiliated. UGH. THANK YOU YOU AMAZING WOMAN! I am so glad I got to meet you. You have a way of writing about your pain that goes so deep … and you say it for all those who still can’t. And THAT is a healing, amazing, beautiful gift.

  24. Debbi

    and P.S. Amanda’s a bitch and a traitor to her gender. It’s women like that that women like us DO NOT NEED AS FRIENDS. She obviously has lived a perfect fucken life.

  25. ryder ziebarth

    3%. Exactly 17. Friend of my best friend’s famous parent. Had NO idea how to say “get your hand off of my jeans right there on that spot where I am feeling nothing but irritated and rubbed raw.” He was a famous rock and roll musician. I had just watched him on stage from back stage. I felt special. I was impressed. It was in a car when he offered to drive me home. I pretended to be asleep.I never got over the fact I didn’t say “quit it, you perv,” But I simply didn’t know how. I didn’t get it. So I hope he is fucking dead.

  26. Renee Greiner

    I’m really, really thankful that you wrote this Amy. Silence is an ugly motherf*****. If this happened to me, I would call it an assault. I just can’t wrap my hands around at all being the Man that suggested that and not feeling if I were in fact that Man (or Woman) that I assaulted someone.

    Regardless, this hit home.

    I’m sorry for the couple of negative comments people wrote in; more shocked than anything else.

    Thank you. Your thoughts are appreciated.

  27. Heidi Hamann

    Amy, thank you for sharing your heart and a piece of your beautiful soul. I was not brave at 17 either and was pressured by girls who said boys would not stick around if I did not “put out. You tell your raw stories straight up and give others the courage to do the same. In the telling you’re giving others who come after to see they have more options and can say no. I love you Amy. You show your BRAVE beautifully.

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