While reading an article about another prominent man accused of sexually inappropriate behavior, Anna Bjornson experienced an end of The Sixth Sense moment in which Bruce Willis retroactively sees all the past signs that he was a ghost, but instead for suddenly seeing that a number of past experiences she went through were, in fact, gross sexual misconduct.
“A necessary though unpleasant side effect of the increased awareness and dialogue around sexual misconduct is occasionally having a jolting memory of something you experienced that you had either repressed or just stored as a gross or even embarrassing encounter.”
Such was the case for Bjornson when she suddenly looked up from her computer, eyes darting around as she processed the reality of past instances much like Bruce Willis who had no idea he was dead even though that little boy looked right at him and told him he sees dead people who don’t even know they’re dead.
“It is like The Sixth Sense honestly,” says Bjornson. “Because both sexual misconduct and being dead are things you think of happening to other people, but they’re harder to recognize when it happens to you.”
“All of a sudden I was just like, wow, when I was 15 years old and an adult man behind me at a concert repeatedly grabbed my ass, that was assault,” Bjornson adds. “Or realizing there’s a concrete reason for why I felt so shitty after that coercive sexual experience in high school, or that that manager at my college job who would talk about his sex life to me was doing something wrong.”
But though recalling and decontextualizing these memories is disturbing, it’s also provided some important clarity for Bjornson.
“When Bruce Willis realizes he’s dead, he’s like, whoa, what the fuck,” says Bjornson. “But coming to terms with that truth and putting a name to it is also the thing that allows him to move on, literally to the next realm in his case. In my case, it’s more about processing and unpacking the impact of those experiences, and reaffirming how I and all people deserve to be treated.”
“I think there may also be some parallel in that restaurant scene with his wife,” she adds. “But I’m not sure, I haven’t seen The Sixth Sense in a while.”