Writer and comedian Rachel Bloom recalled her own personal #MeToo moment, saying that she recently demanded an apology from the people she now says sexually harassed her a decade ago and forced her from the leadership of a sketch comedy group at NYU.
“When I was 19, I got caught in a love triangle with two guys who were older than I was, and I handled myself weirdly because I had just lost my virginity,” the creator and star of CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” said Monday at TheWrap’s BE Conference in Austin, Tex.
“They were also two of my mentors, so it was like, ‘Yeah, I wanna f— my mentors!’ They were cute and smart. I was caught between them in a way I didn’t quite understand,” said the Golden Globe-winning star, now 30. “As punishment, I was removed as director of my college sketch comedy group. I was supposed to be director and I was removed.”
When TheWrap’s CEO Sharon Waxman asked what she had done wrong, Bloom pointed to her vagina and said, “This. I had that.”
“It would be forgettable if it weren’t for the fact that I was then removed as director but chose to stay on the sketch comedy group for whatever reason,” she said, declining to name the men involved — though she said both are working comedians in the industry. “And I was replaced by two men who hated each other.
“I tried to fit in with them and they just wanted to f— me. I let that happen, because I’m human,” she said. “It became a bros-before-hoes thing. That’s when I was, like, ‘I’m going to find my own voice, I’m going to tell my own story.'”
Bloom said she recently called two of the guys complicit in her removal: “I said, ‘You know, this almost ruined college for me,’ and both of them were, like, ‘You’re 100 percent right.’ One of them started crying, one of them said it was the biggest regret… They wanted to apologize and get better… that’s an example of, I think, some of this isn’t malicious.”
According to her bio, Bloom served as head writer and director of NYU’s Hammerkatz sketch-comedy group before graduating in 2009.
When asked what inspired her to approach her former mentors after nearly a decade, Bloom said, “#MeToo. Every woman… has thought, when has that happened to me and I didn’t think about it or put up with it or kind of just stomached it. I was like, when I was removed as director because two guys both wanted to f— me, that’s sexual harassment.”
Bloom said that the biggest lesson she learned was this: “You can’t rely on the approval of men. They are never going to fully approve and they gotta learn.”
Bloom also chronicled other experiences of harassment, explaining that she was recently grabbed by someone in the industry at a party, or that she was pecked on the lips while hugging another industry man.
And Bloom found herself in another situation where she was at a party with critics when one of them kept grabbing her waist and urging her to have more alcohol — all when her husband was standing beside her. She emphasized that it’s important for women to communicate that such behavior will not be tolerated — despite the fear associated with confronting a harasser.
“Your biggest fear is you call this guy and he says, ‘What’re you talking about?'” Bloom said. “We’ve learned to f—ing stomach it. I am this outspoken feminist who talks about my period and my vagina, and a guy at a party is too handsy and I go into shame mode. It’s embedded in all of us. He might not know he was doing it. We have to let them know that it’s not OK anymore and then they learn.”
Bloom also said she prefers to work with moms because they want to come into work, do their thing and go home to their families.
“You learn to very efficient with your time and that’s something that hadn’t occurred to me before I started working with moms,” said Bloom. “It also made me realize that you don’t step away from your career, it teaches you to be quiet efficient.”
She noted that more than half of her show’s writers are women. When Waxman noted that Hollywood execs often say there aren’t enough female writers, Bloom responded, “That’s bulls—. There are women everywhere.”
Bloom also said that female writers have learned to adapt and show more range — while white, male, straight writers are allowed to just throw their hands up to say, “I cannot write for women.”
“There are some writers, white male straight writers, who cannot write characters for women or minorities,” explained Bloom. “You cannot be a female writer and say, ‘I just don’t write men well.’ You would not be a writer. You have to, everyone who isn’t a straight white man has had to adapt to that rule. When I first started doing comedy, there was a feeling that I had to appropriate to fit in this world, and that’s what everyone does around straight white men. The world is run by them and more importantly their gaze.”
Bloom was at SXSW Film Festival with her husband, Dan Gregor, to premiere her new film “Most Likely to Murder,” which Gregor wrote and directed. She also told the crowd that her husband was the person who told her that her experience with the sketch comedy group was sexual harassment — and that he’s always been an ally and a mentor to her.
Watch her interview above.