Final Thoughts

From Newsweek, “The Face of Evil”, June 11th, 2001:

“It should be emphasized that the psychological cocktail of narcissism, lack of empathy, and the tendency to dehumanize others for one’s own purposes does not have to manifest itself in sensational crimes to qualify as evil. More often, evildoers... appear as highly functional, socially productive members of society whose cold-hearted manipulation of others occurs in the home and workplace. Their ability to compartmentalize enables them to lead double lives.... The effect is that lives are willfully destroyed by someone who doesn’t care about the pain he or she inflicts, and often seems to enjoy it....”

From stand-up comic and performance artist Margaret Cho, writing about an incident in which she was assaulted by a powerful Hollywood producer. After she refused to have sex with him, he forced her to rewrite her screenplay dozens of times, then destroyed her movie production deal, effectively ending her career in Hollywood. After a few years, she started telling the story of what the man she calls “Roman” had done to her in her one-woman show, “I’m The One That I Want!” One day, the abusive producer came to one of her performances and sat right in the front row, where she could see him while she worked:

“I tried not to look down at him, but I could feel his rage rise up at me like a noxious smell. It is unbelievable, but I just carried on.... I just avoided that part of the stage, as if I could avoid him and his anger, and what he did to me. I was not going to give him the satisfaction. I was not gonna let him see me falter or fail. I would win, as I deserved to.

“....I cannot believe that I pulled it off. The show ended, and it was okay. Nothing happened. He didn’t hang around after the performance, he didn’t stand by the stage door, he didn’t try to kill me. After all, it was okay.

“Just to be sure, I hid upstairs in my dressing room long after everyone had left. I saw Roman’s expression up there. It was just murderous. There was blood in his eyes. He must have been mad, because when things happen to women, we are supposed to remain silent. Our shame should make us act like nothing happened, maintain the decorum. I refuse to be silent, therefore, I become some sort of criminal.

“I think if we all told our stories and said out loud what has happened to us, to warn other women, to comfort those who have had the same things happen to them, to show that we are not alone, the world would suddenly become a bigger and better place.”