So here we are caught up in yet another sex scandal. I’m a bit late with my running commentary because honestly I was trying hard to shut my mouth, meditate in a corner and let it pass me by.
Hollywood and the entertainment industry are famous for sex and it’s like all of a sudden nobody ever heard of the casting couch. It’s a fucking cliche. In a world where we have publicly normalised the sexualisation of young teenagers; Hello Britney, Christina, Miley, are you really surprised that peoples careers are being sexually compromised by powerful figures?
Sex sells and we buy. In this day and age we talk about sex constantly, watch porn regularly, our sexual senses are over-stimulated and unfortunately it would appear some of us have not yet evolved past the ‘want it, take it’ mechanism. Sexual assault has always happened and not just to women; boys, men, transgender, drag queens, dogs and teddy bears. Most of us know people who have been raped or have experienced it ourselves. It’s terrifying, violating and WRONG. Recently however some people seem to be confusing uncomfortable behaviour, sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Most people use their own sexuality at some point to help get them places. In entertainment it can be almost impossible to avoid. We are so obsessed with how things look, how we appear and the manner in which we and other people ‘do’ it’s not surprising that this can backfire. No that doesn’t make it OK to hold castings in your bath robe but when we spend so much time focusing on the sexual side of our persona, which dominates so much in this modern world where everything is designed to be attractive so that we constantly consume, fuck, rinse, repeat, we are victims of our own circumstance. It’s like teaching a dog to bite intruders and then getting mad when it goes for the baby. You can’t nurture one part of animal instinct and only expect to get half of it, when you want it, in blue.
This Weinstein business. Two things. The first one is that some of these women, famous influential women that have done very well for themselves, have successful careers, healthy bank accounts and I imagine nice houses are telling us NOW that there was a predator sexually assaulting them, sorry, harrassing them, what he asked you for a massage and made a dirty joke?
You made a choice. You chose to keep your mouth shut, brush it under the red carpet and take the settlement. You stayed in the room, you stayed in your job and you allowed that monster to continue abusing others. So many women within the company accepted pay-offs under confidentiality clauses and walked away. Now if they had proceeded with these allegations or charges they may not have succeeded or had the lifestyles they have now but the fact of the matter is that they could have said ‘I’m not standing for this. Fuck you Harvey. I will not settle’. But they didn’t.
So let’s just say that I’m struggling to feel sorry for them and no I am not disputing their accounts. I’m also not going to blame Ben Affleck or anyone else who knew it was going on as the responsibility for whistle blowing falls on the women and honestly I feel like they failed us all. Yes I feel sad and frustrated that we have created a world where money and power is prised above decency, where men like this hold so many of the cards and women accept a cheque. But I’m not going to start banding against the male sex and wearing victim on my t-shirt. I’m going to stand up, declare my power and own it.
Call me a victim-blamer, part of the problem, a NASTY WOMAN. Listen for half a second. If a man behaves towards you in a way that you believe is sexually inappropriate, makes you feel uncomfortable, asks you to do something that you feel is not part of your job, as is the case with the majority of the complaints against Weinstein, it is within your power and responsibility to speak out. Right then. Make it explicitly clear that that behaviour is not tolerable to you. This needs to come first. In life. It should absolutely come before what you could lose by saying no or gain by saying yes. Yes he had a lot of power and influence in an industry that honestly treats people worse than we treat animals but the more his behaviour was not consistently checked by clearly a lot of people, the signal to this man who it seems must have more than a few power issues was a green light.
The second thing is this hashtag. Never in my social media life have I witnessed such an unnecessary, negative and narcissistic onslaught as this campaign. These posts reek of mind-identified ego and little more. It’s divisive, accusatory and a bloody band wagon. Some people are even doing it for popularity or career purposes.
Not only did most of the women in the Weinstein case keep their mouths shut for fear of professional repercussions now everyone’s using sexual assault for career gain. Talk about part of the problem. Oh yeah I better update my #MeToo status so that casting directors everywhere think I’m on trend, a voice of the moment and speaking out.
It totally ostracises everyone that isn’t a ‘woman’ who has been sexually abused by essentially saying your experience is not valid for this movement. Next. Plus it makes the whole thing about the victim. We shouldn’t be saying #MeToo and crying into our almond lattes we should be saying #NotMe and doing something about it. At the time. When it happens.
All we are doing with this #MeToo nonsense is dragging up the past after the event. Look at me on social media being part of a trend. Oh watch me identify with my pain and suffering and get attention for it. Come on people if somebody tries to take advantage of you or worse succeeds, regardless of what is at stake, call them out. Tell them and the world then and there that it is unacceptable and you are not standing for it. Posting hashtags isn’t going to do anything.
Cat-calling, groping and propositioning, unpleasant, childish and irritating as they may be are not the same as being dragged down an alley by a stranger who pulls down your pants and forces their penis inside of you.
There is an argument that this is about showing solidarity as opposed to making everyone a victim. Good intentions and all that but if you want to show solidarity, show solidarity. If I was raped I’d much prefer people showed me solidarity by believing what I said and helping me address the issues (and rapist) at hand than posting #MeToo as their status to get some limelight. Yes I can appreciate that not everyone feels empowered enough to stand up and I can see to a certain extent how the hashtag (tasteless as I find it) may help with that. But when it gets hijacked and morphs into a status symbol, an accessory or an exercise in ‘look at me’ it turns something that could have been worthwhile into the very root of the problem. If we are so obsessed with how we look, what we appear to be and what we have we are much more susceptible to being dominated by predators with big money gag orders.
I keep hearing women say ‘I’m not going to change they have to change’ that ‘we haven’t come this far yet’ and ‘it’s easy for you to say’. LADIES PLEASE. You cannot stamp your feet, load a rant onto Instagram and #MeToo your status expecting the entire male population to suddenly behave exactly how you want them to. The only change any of us can ever make is with ourselves. We can’t bulldozer others opinions but we can put our foot down. We can say and do something at the time. We can adapt our own attitudes and lead by example. Explain, educate and include.
We pick and choose the parts of humanity we want to embrace and cast our eyes away from the ugly. We have unconsciously followed and allowed our societies to be dominated by the powerful few. Just like some of the victims of Weinsteins abuse we play along, we pick and choose when we speak out and about whom and what depending on what we can get in return, what we have to lose or how it makes us look.
You can post #MeToo as many times as you like but it’s putting a plaster on a gangrenous wound. If we place things like greed, title and ego above honesty, sympathy and basic humanity we may as well walk around with blind folds on and our legs open.
Janna Fox is an actress, writer, yogi, aerialist in training and creator of many things. She started blogging for The New Establishment in February 2017 and her pieces are published every other Wednesday. Janna also contributes to sex blog Hitting the Spot. For more information please visit www.jannafox.com