It’s been said often enough to become cliché that humor is a kind of armor. For funny-woman Tiffany Haddish, that armor came at a cost.
In the September issue of Glamour, the 38-year-old comedian opens up about a painful and life-changing sexual assault at the hands of a police cadet. Haddish was just 17-years-old at the time, she says.
“That whole experience put me in such a messed-up place for a long time, and I ended up going to counseling,” Haddish told writer Niela Orr.
Haddish told Orr that she reported the incident when it happened, but nothing came of it. She added that she wasn’t sure what justice would look like in that incident.
“Me just yelling out people’s names with no thought behind it is pointless. I need a plan,” Haddish said. “I could be a voice, but what’s a voice going to do—just keep talking? Or is there action behind it?”
Since the rape, Haddish says she’s developed a brashness towards men that functions as a sort of defense. She discloses how directors and producers have come on to her (“I might get real bossy and say, ‘First off, don’t nobody want to see your little dick!’ I get loud, all that,” she says). But she also uses sexual aggression to take control.
“I notice that men are afraid of women that are aggressive. So to protect myself I become semi-aggressive,” Haddish said. “You hear about, ‘Tiffany always hitting on somebody,’ but that’s to keep them from hitting on me.”
Haddish has spoken out about rampant sexual harassment in the entertainment industry before. In an interview with People magazine last year about her memoir, The Last Black Unicorn, Haddish said, “it seemed like everybody wanted to get in my panties. It was constant defending and battling. These men will try you every single time.”
“It’s like hazing,” she continued. “Once they figure out you’re strong and you don’t roll like that, then they start treating you like a colleague.”