You Don’t Forget



by Karen Topakian

You don’t forget. The unwanted hands covering your body. Their laughter. The grinding hips. The thrusting. The smell of alcohol. The faces so close. Bearded. Shaved. Stubbled. The fear. The embarrassment. The humiliation. The guilt.

You do forget the date. The time. The make and model of the car but not how your bare calves feel pushed repeatedly against the vinyl seats. You do forget the story you made up to explain your disheveled clothes and hair to your parents.

You tell no one. You lock the secret in your heart. Push it down deep. You try to shake it off.  You convince yourself you dreamt it. Imagined it. You tell yourself. You’re ok. You can handle it. It doesn’t matter. You tell yourself it never happened. Until it happens again.

After Wearing Black, What’s Next ?


by Karen Topakian

On Sunday night, the Golden Globe stage stood awash in black. Black dresses with plunging necklines, black off the shoulder gowns, black mermaid style dresses that required a helping hand for the wearer to ascend the stage, black dresses with big wide skirts, black body hugging gowns covering all but an arm. Beautifully rendered. Exquisitely worn. A statement that drew attention and awareness.

A few winners used their moment at the mic to speak about assault, harassment, bullying, inequity and inequality.

Several lent their names, support and ticket to organizations advocating for women’s rights in the workplace.

Without the limelight glaring, what can and should these actors do next?

What would you tell them to do today, tomorrow and the day after? Here are my ideas. What are yours?

  1. Ask workplace advocacy and women’s rights organizations how to help. Then listen and follow their directions.
  2. Leverage your status, privilege, access, and resources by making a significant financial gift to these advocacy organizations and announce it publicly. Offer to raise money for them. Invite your friends, colleagues and family members to get involved in the cause. Write an op-ed about the issue and why it’s important to you. Re-post and re-tweet the organizations’ messages to your fans for free. Deliver a keynote address for free at their conference. Appear in a video about the organization and its mission. Work behind the scenes to open closed doors. Show up at rallies and public demonstrations without much fanfare
  3. Cede your privilege. When a reporter approaches a celebrity standing with a woman representing an advocacy organization, direct the reporter to the advocate. Give her the moment to speak.
  4. When you’re interviewed for your latest project, talk about these issues and the organizations, too.
  5. Tell your own story about work place harassment, bullying, inequity and inequality.
  6. Publicly name the abusers. Push through the silence. Prepare yourself for the haters.
  7. Advocate publicly and privately for pay equity for all women in your sector from the production assistant to the director, from the assistant dresser to the starring actor.
  8. Convene women at your tier in the acting world and commit yourselves to serving in solidarity.
  9. Find out the pay scale for other women in your field and advocate with them for pay equity.