Let’s start listening to #metoo
Everybody has probably heard the name Harvey Weinstein by now, but how has he managed to get away with sexual abuse for so long? Why did the women and men of the Hollywood industry feel they could not come forward to report him?
Yes, that’s right, men have also been sexually abused, Sir Tom Jones has recently said that sexual abuse is common in the music industry too and amongst men. Also, actor Tony Goldwyn has said he was sexually harassed by a man. It may surprise some people, but that’s why patriarchy is damaging for men; it creates a social construction of what masculinity should mean for men, usually by men. How often have you heard the phrases; ‘MAN UP!’, ‘BE A MAN!’ and ‘GROW A PAIR!’. Therefore, not allowing men to express their emotions and be open about how they feel, also creates stigma around men reporting their experiences of sexual abuse.
The women that have come forward are very brave and must be believed, in order to deal with the root of the problem. This short clip from BBC three is about ‘Things Not To Say To Someone Who’s Been Sexually Assaulted’:
Since, #metoo went viral more and more women and men around the world have come forward telling their stories of sexual abuse. The culture of blame creates a taboo and needs to stop in our communities, it is one of reasons why people don’t come forward to report sexual abuse.
It is important to mention the intersection of race in this discussion, as Jane Fonda has lately claimed that people are paying attention to Weinstein’s accusers, because they are ‘famous and white’. The fact is that #metoo was started by a woman of colour, it is vital to know the origins of #metoo, which was created by activist Tarana Burke, a black woman, ten years ago. She founded this grassroots movement to unify those who have been victimised and to aid sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities, ‘where rape crisis centre and sexual assault workers weren’t going.’ If any social justice movement, directly or indirectly marginalises the underprivileged and minorities in our communities, then has it hasn’t succeeded?
The Weinstein case shows that the rich, white, powerful and privileged elite class of men can do whatever they want and not be held accountable. This is why it so hard for even celebrities to talk about their sexual abuse. Patriarchy builds a system that upholds and keeps this class of people unquestionable in our society. For examples, Johnny Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard, was physically abused by him and he is still employed by Hollywood. In the wake of #metoo recently, George W.H. Bush has been accused of sexual assault. Nigella Lawson was physically assaulted in public by her ex-husband Charles Saatchi, she felt she couldn’t speak out about what happened to her. All the examples exist because the patriarchal society we live tells women and men who are abused to shuts up and that it is their fault, by victim blaming tactics, as can be seen in the BBC Three clip.
We should be worried that on the one hand, that in the 21st Century, women and men are being silenced for coming forward with their stories. However, #metoo is slowly showing a change in attitudes and breaking the stigma around talking about sexual abuse.
If the President of the ‘free world’ can get away with making derogatory comments about women, then people like Weinstein, today can get away with ongoing sexual abuse. Now we live in a post Trump era, maybe challenging the extreme narratives will become easier, because it is becoming more obvious.
Finally, women who internalise misogyny and spit it back out, need to check their privilege, yes women like Mayim Bialik, a successful actress who plays Amy in ‘The Big Bang Theory’, wrote an article about how dressing modestly can avoid sexual assault (WTF!). If that’s the case, then why do women in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, where it is a legal requirement for women to dress modestly in public are still subject to sexual abuse. There is no correlation between clothing and sexual abuse!
Is society finally paying attention to all the women around us who have been through sexual harassment, whether physical or not? Isn’t it time to reflect over what changes need to be made, and how we can address this social problem?
This isn’t a Feminist issue, it’s a human issue happening everywhere as #metoo has clearly demonstrated.
By Sana Hussain