This post has been a few weeks in the making.
I started off thinking about my reaction to the scandal of Harvey Weinstein. At first the news was all about him. But since then it has grown and grown. The scandal of sex pests in Hollywood has expanded to the theatre, to politics, and other industries that aren’t making the same headlines.
The ripples have spread outwards as more women (and in the case of Kevin Spacey, men) from more walks of life come forward and tell of the times me have made them feel bad. Feel scared. Dirty. Vulnerable. Trash.
What all the stories have in common is sex. Inappropriate behaviour going from lewd comments, knee touching, to accusations of rape. But in a lot of these cases I don’t think the actions of these men is down to the desire for sex, but rather its the need to exert power. The tipping point for me was reading Cara Delevingne’s account of her encounter with Weinstein. He asked her questions about her sexuality and the women she’s had relationships with. When he invited her to his room there was another woman there. It felt to me like he was humiliating her because of her sexuality. Pushing her down. Because by driving someone into the dirt you gain the power. Maybe he would he tried something more, but none of the other stories from the women involved him questioning them on their past relationships.
As every day manages to bring out another story, women everywhere are wondering one thing. What about all of this is actually news? The rise of #metoo showed that it happens in huge numbers. All the time.
I’ve never been raped. I am thankful for this, and hope anyone who has gets the support they need. I have however been groped on multiple occasions. I’ve been followed home after a night out and forced to scream at them when they followed me into my building and tried to push me against the wall. The only thing I regret about that night is that I didn’t call the police.
But in that case, as in others, I made excuses for these pathetic men. This guy was drunk, I felt bad that if he woke up in a police cell on Sunday morning he’d seriously regret what he’d done. I pitied the teenager who groped me and tried to kiss me as I tried to push off his advances, because, well, I knew he wasn’t very good academically, and I almost put it down to grounds of diminished responsibility. And I was scared of the attention that would be focused on me if I told anyone.
Looking back at Cara’s Insta post, she explains how she hesitated about speaking out. That she didn’t want to hurt his family. That she was feeling guilty, like she was the one who had done something wrong. All the same emotions again. She kept quiet. Much like the vast majority of women do, because what happened to us wasn’t serious enough.
There’s a lot of things that aren’t serious enough, and they’re starting to add up. Women almost see it as being par of the course. For all the openness women have, I don’t think I’ve ever talked to any of my friends about the things that have happened to us. I know these things will have happened to them.
I hope everything that has happened these past few weeks brings about a real change. Of women speaking out more and being taken seriously. Of men being called out and held to account for their shitty behaviour. And men thinking twice before they act. Not only knowing there will be consequences to their actions, but also knowing how it undermines and disrespects women. What might be a two second action for them can prey on the mind of women for years to come. The rest of their lives.
Stop letting them hurt our lives.