Not long after he told me to unclog his brimming toilet, he asked me to join him in looking at the moonlight, clutching me from behind as I did. He would call me late at night to berate me over the phone for my benighted background report on Bill Clinton or Sergei Lavrov or whichever upcoming interview was causing him anxiety, and he would call me at sunrise to tell me that he, breathing heavily, was thinking about me. The man who had enthusiastically interviewed Gloria Steinem some ten times would introduce me to his airport driver, not as someone who had helped prepare him for the lucrative speaking engagement from which he was returning, but as a table dancer he’d picked up the night before. He would get on top of me in an airplane, grope me in cars, and emerge naked in my presence.
Why did I even once put up with it? Or as Daphne Merkin bluntly asked in The New York Times of the #MeToo movement: “What happened to women’s agency?” I’ve turned over this question in my mind so constantly in the last six months, I feel I could write a book on the subject. But perhaps most significant—even more significant than my career aspirations and my dependence on a paycheck—was that Rose’s advances occurred in a professional environment of madness, anxiety, and utter exhaustion. One can function in such an atmosphere for only so long before ceasing to operate at one’s best, most lucid self.