Adrienne Miller got the dream job of literary editor of Esquire Mag, for decades the gold coast where great writers lounged and toyed with their prey. Much envied she was because, for other women, a job like hers was so far out of reach to be in an alternate universe. For most women in the 80’s and 90’s, as Miller cites Henry James saying, “Everything had something behind it: life was like a long, long corridor with rows of closed doors.” That every door had something behind it, Miller was about to learn.
“I was put in my place at a party in a literary agent’s apartment on Fifth Avenue, when an elderly Frenchman approached me and another woman as we sipped our champagne, and croaked, “All women should be dead when they’re the Marilyn Monroe age.”
“Later that night, on a sidewalk in midtown, when the writer and I were waiting to cross the street, he reached his hand down my pants. That hand kept going, advancing underneath my underwear.
I had arrived at this appointment believing that each of us would play an equal role, and I left it knowing the truth: To this man, I was just a female body.”
There was a writer who brought me a coffee-table book of high-end pornographic art at lunch, another writer who tried to convince me to have sex with him in a large empty auditorium before his event there, and another writer who, interestingly, sent me a bottle of Skin So Soft.”
One editor did seem to enjoy relaying to me grotesquely graphic stories of his sexual history. Another editor asked me, when I was wearing a skirt, to submit to the old stand-and-twirl routine. At a professional event, I was groped and forcibly kissed by a colleague’s friend.
Like the same itch scratched until it becomes raw and bloody:
“I’m dismayed that I lost so much time thinking about any of this. That’s the worst of it—the lost time, when all I’d wanted to do was work.”
“Eventually, the cumulative effect of my darker professional episodes with men came to make my job seem tainted.”
Yup, the thought of an office in New York or London or Toronto still induces mild PTSD.