Has #metoo gone too far? Where are all these women coming from? Do they just want attention, and can any man feel safe anymore? From Donald Trump to high profile Hollywood producers and movie directors, men seem to be hunted down by women who do not know how to let the bygones be bygones. Let us break down some of the arguments aimed at angry women defending their right to speak up.
Q: Why have these women not spoken up before? Is it just an ample opportunity to get your fifteen minutes of fame, humiliate a high-profile man, and get paid in the process?
A: No. Even though, it is up to everyone’s judgment to decide whether there is such a thing as an expiration date on a crime, misconduct, or any other heinous act. Have rape statistics gone up in the past decades, or is the culture of “silence is golden” slowly but surely degrading?
Whether silence has been chosen in the past, or women’s reportings about sexual harassment cases have been hushed, ignored or condemned by others, the fact is that speaking up has not been supported. Women had to suck it up. Hearing stories from members of my own family, my friends’ parents and my colleagues, the idea that anyone would have cared ten years ago when a stranger groped you at the bus was laughable. Imagine aspiring models, actors, career women and mothers just a decade ago, and the hush-culture they had to endure. Thanks to #metoo, hush us no more.
The current climate for public discussion is better than ever before for women to come out with their stories. Whether it happened fifty years ago or today, women have the right to speak up, and perpetrators “have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you…” It also takes great courage to make the most of this refreshing wave of free speech and join in the conversation. Any woman publicly telling about their experiences, especially regarding high-profile men, faces shaming, blaming and naming by complete strangers. “Attention seeking whores” are the suffragettes of today, paving the way for opinionated and loud women of the future.
Why these men?
Q: Why are these men under scrutiny? Admired, artistic, high-profile men who have given so much to the people, are being torn apart by women and their artistic achievements and careers ruined in the process.
A: You might feel sorry for these men under public scrutiny and hatred. You might feel like you have to stand up for these poor bastards as they stand alone in front of angry women casting blame and pointing fingers. You might feel frightened and think, “Is someone from my past going to show up and blame me for touching their shoulder at the high school prom we went to together?” The positioning in these very public cases is uncomfortable. People often feel inclined to stand up for “the little guy”. For example, most of us in Finland have seen the teary-eyed movie director Aku Louhimies looking apologetic as women blame him for things that happened a good while ago.
However, no matter how displeasing this scene of him being attacked by merciless women might look, one has to remember the power he has (or had prior to this scandal) and how he has decided to use it. He has gone from a state of power to powerlessness, and oh how we hate to see this happen to men. The fear of this happening to other men, nonetheless due to women, is the core reason discomfort is raised by cases similar to this.
Anyone at a position of power is responsible for creating a safe environment for others and enabling an atmosphere where speaking freely and without fear is possible. Whether it is a director of a movie, a CEO of a company, or an authority figure (officer of the law, teacher, parent) it is their duty to do everything in their power to ensure others can safely express how they feel, without fearing judgment, ridicule, exclusion or being silenced. Thanks to the #metoo campaign, people responsible will be held accountable. For the first time in, well, ever, men in positions of power need to think before they do.
Aku Louhimies is in a different position than other directors amid of Hollywood scandals. He has been mainly blamed for using his position of power and status to degrade and humiliate female actors, rather than directly sexually harassing them. As always, a phenomenon one does not fully understand causes some irritation and angry anonymous comments to be thrown around on the internet. Many have rushed to defend a director’s right to artistic expression. The question in everyone’s lips is whether filming representations of heinous things are in themselves heinous or art. To understand why his methods are questionable from a human rights (and thus from a feminist) point of view, one needs to think about priorities. If a director tells a male actor to rip a female actor’s top off in the next scene without notifying the latter, then their priority is to capture on film a raw reaction to physical threat, surprise, humiliation, anger and much more. Their priority is not the comfort, safety, or physical autonomy of the female actor. This is a conscious choice made by the director, and actions speak louder than words.
Picture via Unsplash