Sorry Not Sorry

Sorry Not Sorry

by Alyssa Milano
Sorry Not Sorry

Sorry Not Sorry

by Alyssa Milano


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Alyssa Milano’s sharply observed, uproarious, and deeply intimate ode to the life she has lived and the issues that matter most.
Alyssa Milano, actress and activist, delivers here a collection of powerful personal essays that get to the heart of her life, career, and all-out humanitarianism. These essays are unvarnished and elegant, funny and heartbreaking, and utterly real. A timely book that shows in almost real time the importance of taking care of others, it also gives a gut-punch-level wake-up call in an era where the noise is a distraction from what really needs to happen, if we want to live in a better world.

These are stories of growing up in celebrity, of family and of friends, of connections and breaking apart. They have teeth on the page and come from the heart. And they are stories that offer a direct line into the thoughts and life of one of the most visible, hard-working humanitarians we have. A bestselling children's book author, Alyssa's finally giving her fans worldwide what they really want to hear directly from her about: the life she has lived, the things she's seen and experienced, and the way she lives in and with the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593183298
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/26/2021
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 257,545
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Alyssa Milano is an actress, producer, and political activist. She is known for her roles in Who's the Boss?, Melrose Place, and Charmed, among others. As a political activist, she is best known for helping to relaunch the #MeToo movement in 2017.

Read an Excerpt

Believe Women

When I sent my #MeToo tweet in 2017, I did it from a place of support and love and anger. As he was for so many women who are the victims of sexual assault, Harvey Weinstein was the last straw. Learning these things about this garbage human, how he treated women I knew and loved, filled me with both bone-crushing sadness and soul-burning fury. And so I spoke out in support of Rose McGowan, but also in support of myself and of my daughter, and of the millions upon millions of women around the world who have been or who will be victims of sexual violence. For too long, nobody listened to us. And when they did, they usually didn’t believe us.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the amazing work of Tarana Burke, who, unbeknownst to me at the time, had started the #MeToo movement years earlier. She’s been in the trenches fighting this fight for years, and one of the greatest gifts of my life has been the opportunity to help lift up the work she’s done fighting for women who have been harassed and assaulted by men, and were rarely believed when they told their stories.

In those first days and months after that tweet, it was an avalanche. In every industry, in every country of the world, men who had for so long taken advantage of their societal power for sexual gratification were outed and fell. Some were men I had previously respected and supported. This is not, and has never been, a partisan political movement for me. Nope, not for a minute. And it never will be. This has been about shifting the culture away from not believing women who tell their stories into a place where we listen and evaluate and act based on the evidence.

Maybe I haven’t done the best job in explaining this distinction—that believing women doesn’t mean we believe every word every woman says just because she is a woman. I mean, I sure as hell don’t believe everything Kellyanne Conway says, and I shouldn’t. When the available evidence contradicts what women say—whether it’s about sexual assault or whether it’s about kids in cages—of course we don’t believe them. Women aren’t immune to lying, and nobody ever meant that we should believe women blindly.

What I do mean, and what is really, really important for us to say, to share, to tell all of the people in our lives, is that we can no longer start with the idea that women are lying. The way women have been treated around sexual assault? It is fucked up. We know that women are routinely gaslit by their abusers. I know so many women, people I love, who were physically, sexually, and emotionally abused by men yet still believe it was their fault. Not because it didn’t happen, but because the predators in their lives manipulated, guilted, and abused them into changing their own lived history just to end the cycle of violence. So imagine overcoming that, overcoming the conditioning and the fear and the pain that always, always come with this kind of abuse, reporting it, and getting the same treatment from the authorities you talked to.

This next part will be almost as hard for you to read as it is for me to write.

I know of a woman—and I am changing some details here to protect her, but the gist is true—who went to the police after her husband choked their teenage daughter, threw her on the ground, and dumped a bookcase over both of them. He left them bruised and terrified and refused to leave the house. As she and her daughter huddled on the floor of the bedroom, the bookcase pushed up against the door to keep him from getting in, she thought back on so many similar episodes. She thought back on the times he’d raped her, and how his sister had said, “Oh, that’s Chad, he didn’t mean anything by it,” when my friend told her what happened. She remembered the decades of affairs, of being told they were her fault. The financial abuse, the abuse of their children, the constant belittling and hurting and shaming and breaking of her center. She saw her daughter crying in her arms, terrified of the man who was her father, and she thought back on the years that perfect girl had been abused. The rage that came from those memories forged a little bit of steel in her shattered core. She vowed to leave and to get help. Eventually they snuck out, and with the support of friends and other people who loved them, she decided to file a report with the police. Do you know what the first question they asked her was?

“What did you do to provoke him? You must have done something.”

Can you imagine that? For most of us—although absolutely not all of us—going to the police means safety. It’s where we go when a situation gets so dangerous that we know we need protection, and they are our safe haven. Except for women who have been abused physically or sexually, it just too often hasn’t been.

She moved back into the house the next day. He is still abusing her. She doesn’t see the point in doing anything about it anymore. She wonders what she did to provoke him and cries on the floor of their bathroom when he finally falls asleep.

You know that scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie writes his teacher an essay talking about how he wants a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas? And he’s certain that his writing is so clear, so passionate, and so persuasive that she’ll have to side with him? Well, instead she writes, “You’ll shoot your eye out,” on the page. He felt like his mother got to the teacher first, and the two conspired against him. Now imagine that instead of a BB gun, Ralphie wanted to stop being abused, and the teacher acted the same way. That’s what the police did to my friend. That’s what they do to so many women.

Is there something about a vagina that means women cause trouble? Do men really think that? Because that’s how the patriarchy works. They blame us for their own failings. They force us to doubt our own lives, our own history, and our own values. They offer refuge, only to take it away when it is needed most. And as women, we’re blamed for seeking that refuge, for rejecting it, and for anything in between. It’s a no-win situation, and I’m sick of losing.

I want to talk a little bit about Christine Blasey Ford and Tara Reade. These two women have been shredded by the political machine, their characters, pasts, and motivations held up to scrutiny beyond anything that most of us can comprehend. Their stories, and the situations that created them, put women in an impossible position. We’re asked over and over again to absolve perpetrators or potential perpetrators, and to be the arbiters of what’s true and what isn’t. This is not our job. We didn’t create the problem, so why are we forced to solve it? These stories came on opposite sides of a political divide, one during a presidential campaign, and that amplified the pressures on women in ways we can’t even measure.

We’re forced to make pragmatic choices, to accept access to power by working with people who have or may have done terrible things, or to stay on the fringes and retain perfect ideological purity. We’re held tight by knots of male creation, and any way we struggle pulls them tighter. Until we break the ropes themselves, it’s going to get more and more uncomfortable. In a perfect world, we could have broken those ropes by nominating and electing a woman to replace Donald Trump, the pussy-grabber in chief. But we don’t live in a perfect world. The Electoral College tells us that the white men of Pennsylvania and Michigan and a few other places will decide who the president is, and they aren’t voting for women. So we’re stuck in this trap, pushing like hell to find the way through, not just the way out.

I was on set when I first heard the name Brett Kavanaugh, at least as far as I can remember. It sickened me that Trump got to put another one of his cronies on the Supreme Court, and I soon learned that he was insanely antichoice, he had a history of recommending terrible policy when he served as part of the George W. Bush administration, and he was yet another rich white man who attended private school and was going to be deciding what I could do with my body. I hated it. I vowed to fight against his nomination with everything I had. He was one of the worst possible nominees for the job, and it was time to gear up for war. I’m not hiding that fact at all. Brett Kavanaugh needed to be stopped from joining the court if at all possible.

But never, never in the world would I condone fabricating false accusations against a man for political gain. Not once. If Christine Blasey Ford’s story did not have so much corrobo- rating evidence, and so much consistency, I would not have supported bringing her accusations into the Senate hearings until such evidence came forth. But it was there, from the start. She told the same story, consistently, over the years. She told it to a therapist, who had notes verifying it. She told it to her husband. She spoke about the attack to friends over the years. The details remained consistent. She took and passed a polygraph. She did not set out to talk to the press or make her story public—she sent a letter to her senator when she learned this man could end up on the court. And the letter leaked.

Still, under the glare of the lights, her story remained con- sistent. She talked under oath about her experience. She did not have a political agenda; she had a patriotic agenda. I looked at the totality of the evidence, from the point of view of believing she had a right to be heard and that we had a duty to hear her. This process played out in the very definition of due process: an official hearing. And after listening to what she had to say, I believed her. Unfortunately the Senate did not. I don’t know how they didn’t. I was in the room when she testified. I heard the ring of truth in her voice. I don’t know how anyone who was in that room could not have heard the same thing.

Now, just as I was opposed to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the court, I have supported Joe Biden’s campaign for the presidency. I’ve known Joe for quite some time. With me, he has never been anything but warm, kind, friendly, and smart. He comes from a family like mine, where physical affection is the norm, and he’s admitted that he may have been too affectionate with women he’s encountered. There was no hint of sexual abuse or gratification in the stories of any of the people who have spoken about these kinds of encounters with him, and he’s owned up to them. In fact, he’s been the example of how a man should handle these things—by listening, promising to keep listening, and changing his behavior to reflect his new understanding. It’s exactly what I want from the # MeToo movement. I want men to do better. Joe’s doing better. I know him to be a good man. But if I believed he had sexually assaulted a woman, I’d be shouting from the rooftops that he needs to step down.

I have not heard Tara Reade’s story in the same light as Christine Blasey Ford’s. As of late 2020, she has not testified under oath. But I believe just as strongly that we have the exact same responsibility to hear, and to honestly vet, her story that we had with Dr. Ford. I know that we need to do this with an open mind and an open heart. We cannot start from the position that she is not being truthful, and despite all of what I just said about Joe, I have done my damnedest to make a fair evaluation. In this case, I am really concerned that her story has changed so much. I’m even more concerned that she didn’t start telling it as a story of sexual assault until she started loudly supporting his opponent in the primary. I don’t like that she claims to have filed a complaint against Biden when she worked for him, but no record of this complaint appears to exist, and I have a hard time with the fact that she’s provided a vague enough timeline that Joe can’t look at his Senate schedule and have the opportunity to clear his name.

In this case, I’ve listened and looked at the evidence, and I have a hard time accepting her version of events. But get this: It is a rolling, fluid state. Evidence could come forward that, despite all of these concerns I have, will change my mind. I could learn new information, and new information makes us reevaluate our world, our beliefs, our prejudices. If we are honest with ourselves, if we really, really dig in and look in the mirror, we have to change to match the real world. And if the evidence requires me to do so, I’ll change my mind on this. I am always open to the act of believing women. Even women whom I have not believed in the past.

Ultimately, only two people know the truth of what either of these women have to say. Both of them will suffer for telling these stories. And right off the bat, too many people just presumed they were lying. It pisses me off. When we admonish people to believe women, it’s that assumption we’re trying to erase. Despite what you may think, I did not default to not believing Tara Reade. I didn’t default to believing Christine Blasey Ford. I did start from a place that allowed for the possibility that each of their stories was true.

Somewhere south of me, across a canyon and a desert, through streets normally packed tight with standstill traffic, my friend is probably hiding somewhere in her house, afraid. So is your friend. Don’t you miss her spirit? Don’t you remember who she was before she was presumed guilty? Don’t you wish we started with the possibility of believing her story?

Maybe we’d still have her.

I believe women.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

On Being Unapologetically Fucked Up 5

Believe Women 13

The Imperfect Ally 23

David 31

The Strange World of Campaigns 35

Progressive or Performer? 44

By Any Other Name 52

The Lost Art 58

Milo 68

Words 79

Patriotism 88

Ruth 96

The Sickness in Men 105

Mommy, That Still Happens? 114

Cancel Culture Is Canceled 122

Bella 132

Around the World and Back Again 140

To My Fan-ily 149

The Everyday Constitution 152

A Conversation 160

Death in the Air 167

Defund the Police 175

Essential 185

The Olive Branch 195

Amendments 202

Taking Care of One Another 211

Reconciliation 218

Divided We Fall 227

United We Stand 237

The Future 247

A Survivor's Prayer 253

Acknowledgments 257

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