It’s funny how no one talks about sexism or harassment within an industry until a bigwig gets caught with his pants down. It’s funny how a woman can tell her coworkers, bosses, and friends about an uncomfortable and dangerous situation and be pushed out the door. It’s hilarious how sexual harassment and “locker room” banter has been normalized over the years.
In case you missed my sarcasm – no, it’s not funny at all. It’s sickening. When news of film producer and director Harvey Weinstein came out, I couldn’t help but think back to Jian Ghomeshi case in Toronto. The press went crazy and people expressed their disgusted, but as soon as a trial started the women making the accusations were shamed and Ghomeshi disappeared. No one got justice.
The latest allegations against Weinstein have done more than tarnish the reputation of the accused. They have opened up a larger debate about the treatment of women in Hollywood. The number of women who have now come out and made accusations of rape and sexual assault against Weinstein increases every day. And he has hardly denied it. In fact, he has fled the country to “seek treatment”’. While police have opened a formal investigation, there is not much hope these women will get their day in court.
While the world waits to find out if the Hollywood mogul will ever be charged, there are a number of debates that have circulated the press and the Internet. Women’s Post discusses three of them:
One of the byproducts of a big scandal like this is that all sorts of actors, producers, and directors are coming out to speak on the subject. Women and men are now talking about their abusive experiences in Hollywood, which is absolutely necessary if the system is to change. However, there are a lot of apologies circulating as well–mostly men apologizing for not taking their female colleagues seriously after they confided in them.
Friday, Colin Firth came out and said he was ashamed he didn’t act on what his co-worker Sophie Dix, one of the women making allegations of sexual assault against Weinstein, told him during the filming of their movie The Hour of the Pig. He told the Guardian she never went into detail regarding the incident, but he could tell there was something wrong and all he did was sympathize. And Firth isn’t alone. Dozens of men have come forward and apologized for being party to this system of abuse.
And then there is Ben Affleck, who admitted to sexually harassing a co-worker (grabbing her ass) and then proceeded to apologize for it. There may have been a good intention somewhere in this claim, but honestly it seemed like a slight defense of Weinstein and the whole sexist Hollywood mentality. Sure, I guess it’s a good thing Affleck recognized he was in the wrong, but does it take a big Hollywood scandal for men to acknowledge their role in perpetuating the sexualization of women? Or even in harming them physically, emotionally, or psychologically? And how much do you want to bet there will be no repercussions for the men who come out now and say sorry?
Fathers of Daughters and Husbands to Wives
A lot has been written about the use of this phrase by men speaking against sexual abuse. Actor Matt Damon was quoted recently used this phrase in relation to the Weinstein allegations.“‘As the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night,” he said. And it caused a big uproar on the Internet. To be fair to Damon, he isn’t the only one to use the phrase “as a father to a daughter’” or “”as a husband” and the rest of his interview showed deep sincerity in his disgust.
But, let’s get back to the phrase itself. “As a father of daughters”. Let me get this straight. Before, it was okay to grab a woman’s ass, but now that you have a daughter and you don’t want some guy sticking his hand (or anything else) down her pants, all of a sudden it’s not okay to sexually harass a woman. It’s like these men suddenly have skin in the game – they can’t picture their little girls being harmed like their co-workers, colleagues, and friends were.
Men often use these phrases without thinking. I’m pretty sure most don’t mean they were disrespectful before they had their offspring. But, just in case, listen up guys. Here is what you need to know about the phrase “fathers of daughters” or “as a husband.”
You should be respectful to all women, regardless of whether or not they have something to do with your penis. Teach both your sons and daughters to respect each other, and treat all of the women you meet the same way. It doesn’t matter if you are married or have children. Be a good human being and recognize when someone (of any gender) is being mistreated — and then say something.
And just stop using the damn phrase!
A broken system
There is a very real possibility that Weinstein’s abuse of women was an openly known secret in Hollywood. There are a lot of people who had to know this was happening. And yet, it took the strength of a few select women and a group of reporters at the New York Times to actually get people to listen and open their eyes.
While these public revelations have disturbed most of us, there is a slight glimmer of hope. Women and men who have been sexually assaulted are speaking out. Regardless of whether or not Weinstein is charged, the system will have to change, if only because less people are going to accept it now.
And it’s not just Hollywood. Social media users are starting to see that sexism exists within large corporations as well. Following Affleck’s sexual harassment revelations, actress Rose McGowan tweeted about it. Twitter then suspended her account, claiming she included a personal phone number. It has not been confirmed if that is the case. McGowan was one of the women featured in the New York Times expose on Weinstein and has alleged Weinstein rapped her.
Twitter is not getting a kind response from its users. In fact, numerous women have vowed to boycott Twitter on Oct. 13th in support of McGowan.
For most, the irony over what is considered a violation of Twitter’s terms is too much. Most compared McGowan’s use of Twitter to that of United States President Donald Trump, who has used the platform to threaten foreign countries, attack free speech, and personally bully reporters and politicians. Trump has never been suspended.
Many users have also said that Twitter violations are not enforced fairly.
What do you think? Can this system ever change? Will this scandal be enough to help spur it?