The big story dominating the press at the moment is the fall of the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, whose sexual abuse of women has been an apparently open secret for decades but has now become incontrovertible.
Probably the best piece on the accusations themselves is this New Yorker piece. But a lot has been written about how he was able to get away with this for so long, why it's only coming out now, how women knew the accusations before they were made public, why women didn't say anything until now, why no matter what victims do they can be blamed for not doing the right thing, how this isn't so much about sex as it is about power, how women are still left to be the ones to tackle these issues, and how both the assaults themselves and much of the discussion about the victims now is yet another example of rape culture in action.
The news has also led to some men speaking out about their own sexual assaults. Most notably James Van Der Beek and Terry Crews. The Crews story is particularly informative because it happened only last year, in front of his wife, and he still felt unable to do or say anything because he knew he'd be attacked. If someone like Terry Crews feels unable to speak out then how on earth is a young woman just starting out supposed to feel?
The news has also led to some great (if very tongue-in-cheek) tips on how not to sexually assault or harass women. The Rock Test is great but my personal favourite is Sam Bee who gave this fantastic penis PSA on her show.
The Harvey Weinstein fall-out continues and has produced a huge amount of really good articles.
The Conversation We Should Be Having
A US-centic piece (though I'm sure similar pieces could be written for many countries) about how revelations like Weinstein come out periodically but nothing ever changes, and people denouncing now were once the ones aiding cover-ups and minimisations.
men need to start speaking out, not just about other men, but about themselves, about the power they wield and the role they play in creating the realities that seem still to shock them.
Quentin Tarantino Was Well Aware of Sexual Misconduct Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein for Decades
I am quite sure that Tarantino wasn't the only man in this position. I don't know whether to praise him for speaking up now or to feel outraged that despite his obvious power in Hollywood he did nothing.
Beyond Weinstein: The Fraught History of the 'Casting Couch' and Hollywood Sexual Harassment
A podcast non the history of the casting couch, which goes back far further than Hollywood.
Men of the world: You are not the weather
This is a truly excellent piece.
I am sick of having to suffer so a man can grow. What is this, every Hollywood movie ever made? I am tired of having to confess to someone else’s crimes. I am tired of showing up at the banquet dripping blood like Banquo’s ghost. This should be your ghost, not mine. I am not the one who should be ashamed that you have done these things. I am not here to make you see the error of your ways.
The Harvey Weinstein allegations are monstrous. But it’s not just monsters who harass women
This piece looks at harassment in journalism and asks why men get away with it.
Let’s focus on the real question: why did all these guys do it? I would lay blame on a culture where the script of “romance” often involves a pursuit, with an unwilling target eventually melted by the force of a man’s ardour. I’d blame a culture of entitlement, where some men think that they are owed women’s attention. I’d blame male-dominated office cultures, where a few loud arseholes can set the entire tone, and industries run by powerful men, and run on an endless supply of powerless women.
Hollywood’s Other ‘Open Secret’ Besides Harvey Weinstein: Preying on Young Boys
Corey Feldman is using the Weinstein revelations to get more attention to a topic he's been talking about for years - the abuse of young boys by Hollywood executives. It seems that he's finally getting some traction and good luck to him. This is one case where 'what about the menz?' is truly justified.
The Weinstein revelations have led to people taking a closer look at Hollywood and the way it approaches sex and women in film. It's been pretty damning.
Sexual Violence in Spec Screenplays
An analysis of screenplays for sexual violence themes. Their findings aren't surprising but are depressing:
- stories where men rape women are generally written by men
- stories where women get raped usually use that rape to define an otherwise cardboard character
- stories where women get raped often have that woman as their single female character
- stories where a woman is coerced into sex often show the coercer in a good light
- stories where a woman gets raped often use that rape to define the male protagonist's journey
Much more at the link.
Sarah Polley: The Men You Meet Making Movies
Sarah Polley describes an encounter (a prelude to assault) with Weinstein and how women are systematically marginalised in Hollywood.
On sets, I saw women constantly pressured to exploit their sexuality and then chastised as sluts for doing so. Women in technical jobs were almost nonexistent, and when they were there, they were constantly being tested to see if they really knew what they were doing. You felt alone, in a sea of men.
Why Do We Let “Genius” Directors Get Away With Abusive Behavior?
A really excellent piece on Buzzfeed about how people excuse anything if it's for 'art'. I found really strong parallels with the culture of pushing people to (and beyond) their limits in academia by 'superstar' PIs and I don't think that's a coincidence.
Excusing the abuse of men in filmmaking means that those who work with them on film sets, especially women, are expected to develop “thick skin.” It becomes proof of their commitment. And when they fail to reach this unreasonable standard of emotionlessness, they — rather than the directors who demand it — pay the price.
It also spawned the #MeToo campaign (well, actually, it didn't, that was begun by Tarana Burke over a decade ago) and a lot has been written about that too.
#MeToo or #MenToo? How men can talk about abuse
This is a great piece from Ally Fogg on how men can respond to the 'revelations' that many women have faced sexual harassment and abuse. It's all excellent but this bit in particular rang true,
join us in carving out other spaces to talk about men’s experiences, separate and parallel to the conversations women are having. Those can happen at the same time or perhaps we can find more appropriate occasions. Even this week, to be blunt, if you have been trying to talk about men’s experiences of sexual assault as a rebuttal to the Weinstein allegations but you have not been highlighting the testimony at the Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry from Rochdale children’s homes about the revolting crimes of Cyril Smith, then you’re probably a shitty hypocrite who doesn’t actually care about male victims at all.
Toxic masculinity is everywhere. It’s up to us men to fix this
This is a really excellent piece by Jordan Stephens of Rizzle Kicks, highlighting how toxic masculinity is hurting men and their relationship with each other and the women in their lives.
Any man who has read a woman’s account of harassment or assault and thought “that doesn’t apply to me”: what you’re experiencing in that moment is the exact privilege, power and entitlement that women are finding space to battle against. We have subconsciously benefitted since we were born from patriarchal privilege – in many ways it’s invisible to us.
#MeToo – Some Useful Things That Men Can Do
Another one for men, written by a man (in this case Justin Hancock). It's fascinating how many of these articles are listicles. I don't know if that's just the way people write these days or if men need things to be spelt out in clear short statements.
Men paralyzed by #MeToo: Here’s why you need to speak up—and how
For men, by a woman, this piece explains why getting men to acknowledge #MeToo is so important.
Some readers may think, “I see women calling out men for the stupid things they’ve said, and I know I’ll be judged for speaking out, too.” To that I would say: I celebrate your discomfort.
Frankly, it’s entirely fine—actually, it’s great—that many men feel judged and personally attacked over recent debates about Weinstein and sexual abuse. The reality of sexism and sexual violence makes women feel uncomfortable and judged every single day, from the catcalls we get on our way to work to the way we hesitate before sharing our opinion in a meeting. For women of color, trans people, gay people, and gender-queer people, this daily judgment and discomfort is only amplified.
That men are finally starting to experience the negative consequences of sexism may be a way for them to understand how women and non-gender-conforming people feel all the time. If you’re feeling judged or attacked, channel those sentiments into thinking critically about how you can do better—in both your public and private fight against patriarchy.
As a man, #MeToo has made me reassess my past sexual encounters
A man reassesses his interactions with women and views them from their perspective for the first time.
#MeToo and why even if we think it hasn’t happened to us, it probably has
A woman reassesses her interactions with men and realises the many ways in which she's been sexually harassed which she had unwittingly brushed off as 'just the way things go'.
The fact is, of course, that it has happened to me. Not in the horrendous way retold by thousands of victims through #MeToo, but in a variety of styles, various degrees of banter, pestering, and physical contact. And the reason why I discounted those events, some of which should certainly not be discounted, is because the reality of sexual harassment and contrived sexualisation is so prevalent, from such an early age, that if a woman were to recall all incidents of such a nature she would immediately cease to function and melt on the spot.
The Problem with the #MeToo Campaign
This is a really thought-provoking piece, discussing how the #MeToo campaign unwittingly puts the burden, once again, on the victim and not the attacker.
The problem, really, with all of it is how violently present the victim is forced to be in the narrative, and how utterly passive the perpetrator. The problem is not that women have trouble considering themselves victims of sexual violence, but that men have trouble considering themselves the aggressor.
As #MeToo takes off, don’t let the right define misogyny
This piece is the most overtly political of the lot, looking at how the unveiling of abusers from the Left have allowed the Right to take control of the narrative.
The fall-out continues. More and more famous actors, directors and producers are being accused of harassment and assault and it seems like finally the dam has burst and people are starting to take notice of issues women have been complaining about forever. This
sums it up nicely,
Men, 1963-2016: Why are feminists such man-haters??— Kate Harding (
) November 10, 2017
Men, 2017: Oh.
A lot is still being written about Weinstein's decades of harassment and what it says about Hollywood and society more generally, as industries realise that the same scandals could (and often have) been written about them.
Before we get into the articles taking a wide view of these stories, special attention must be paid to Kevin Spacey, who drew a lot of (well-deserved) ire from people who believe he came out as gay to deflect and protect against accusations of harassment from first one, and now multiple, men over several decades. Real classy (!)
Kevin Spacey’s Coming-Out Uses the Whole Gay Community as a Flak Jacket for His Own Image
A lot of people are looking at how such harassment is allowed to go on. The answers are troubling. Women are forced into silence by companies more interested in protecting themselves than their employees. Society tells men and women that such behaviour is normal and to be put up with. And men fail to understand that there is a difference between flirting and harassing.
Stop Rewarding Men for Turning a Blind Eye to Other Men's Sins
This is a great piece to get up to speed on the story as it's got a good summary of the accusations so far and explains how people have been able to get away with it for so long.
Harassers have an incentive to hire and promote those who seem willing to give a pass to their behavior. In the best-case scenario, that might entail people who can convincingly grin and bear it; more often, it may well mean men who don’t have a problem overlooking harassment or who are likely to join in. Journalism and Hollywood are both highly competitive industries, in which connections and reputation are incredibly important, and a certain amount of viciousness is necessary for the job. That makes it a perfect petri dish for potential harassment: Young, female targets will worry too much about disrupting their relationships to speak up, and men’s cruelty to targets can be written off as professional ruthlessness rather than retaliation.
What rape culture says about masculinity
What we found from our conversations with 16 men who identify themselves as either feminist or pro-feminist was that while none of them were rape culture naysayers, most of them were not able to clearly identify what “rape culture” might mean or what it might look like when they see it.
How I discovered a wellspring of sexual harassment complaints
Plan to write a book on the harassment of women in work, tell a few friends and watch the stories come pouring in.
Many told me of decreased morale and job satisfaction, of their stomach churning as they prepared to enter their place of employment. Many liked their jobs and didn’t want to lose them. They were afraid if they came forward, they might be labeled a troublemaker or fired. And why wouldn’t they be afraid when women are routinely disbelieved and commonly blamed? We generally do not complain or report offenses. We receive whatever incivility, bullying or harassment comes along. We ask ourselves: “What are my choices? Do I comply or resist? Do I report or be silent? Do I submit or risk being ostracized, demoted, fired or worse?”
And then too often we tell ourselves, “It is what it is.”
What happens to women who complain of sexual harassment: ‘You’re branded a troublemaker’
The previous piece was from the US, and this piece is from the UK, yet the silencing tactics are exactly the same.
Why don’t more women report incidents of sexual harassment at the time? Why are those with stories to tell often reluctant to name names? These questions have been asked repeatedly in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and more recently in British politics. One obvious answer is: consider what happens when they do.
What next after Harvey Weinstein?
So asks the BFI. They have some really good suggestions which aren't just applicable to the film industry.
We have to break the culture of it being the Unspoken Subject, the one where the harassed person is made to feel like the ‘difficult’ one. We must implement written codes of conduct that are real, fair and enforceable, and not just there to protect the company from potential litigation.
We need to talk about the social norms that fuel sexual assault
Sexual harassment: it’s all part of growing up
These two pieces complement each other so well. They highlight how much of an accepted thing is sexual harassment and assault is. We're like fish who don't know we're in water - sexual harassment and assault is just the way things are. It's only been this discussion that made me realise my first proper kiss was actually assault - it was new year's eve one year and I was out with friends in my local city centre as a teen. A drunk guy staggered up to me and kissed me, sticking his tongue down my throat and then staggered off. But I just brushed it off because that's what you do.
Now sexual harassment is a campaign against men? Get real
Five times men trivialised sexual harassment in the media – and why that’s a problem
The inevitable backlash came, with men (and some women) crying 'witch-hunt!' and claiming that it was all going too far.
Brave women all over the world are coming out to share painful, confusing, even damaging experiences; and many men of influence are responding by trying to render their collective efforts stillborn. All these columns, all these interviews and frenzied tweets ask: “But how are we to survive if there are rules?”
The answer is, they don’t. And they know it. By striving to maintain the status quo they are willing to sabotage what could be a profound shift in a toxic culture, and instead prop up a system that ensures women remain vulnerable to assault. A hand on a knee does not a sexual harassment epidemic make, but a group of influential men choosing to think that is all that is happening certainly maintains fertile ground where would-be harassers can continue to thrive.
There's been lots of 'apologies' from men accused of harassing and abusing women. Most (probably all, thinking about it) have fallen woefully short of an apology worth accepting. This piece is a good primer on how and when to apologise.
How Do You Find Redemption?
First is to recognize that apologies are best done in private, to the person or people you’ve hurt. That means talking to them, directly, not making grand public declarations on Facebook or Twitter. You’re showing remorse, not making a PR statement to cover your ass. Yes, we’re seeing high-profile, very public apologies. These are coming from celebrities and public figures being asked for comment or trying to deal with a scandal. Unless you’re appearing in the Los Angeles Times on the regular, your apology is for you and the person you’re apologising to.
This last piece is wonderful. While written as satire, like the very best satire, you end up thinking if it isn't - or shouldn't be - real.
It’s Time to Admit That Allowing Men Into the Workplace Was a Mistake
Many male workers are also simply too emotional to thrive in the modern workplace. They struggle with anger, jealousy, and pride; they are easily distractible and prone to tantrums. And have I mentioned the "constant sexual harassment" issue yet? Now, it’s important to remember that some male behaviors, like drinking Soylent and playing Nerf basketball in the office, are nothing more than harmless quirks of their sex. But in other cases, a man’s “adorable” childishness—his tendency to tweet angrily at other world leaders, for example—can actually be dangerous. It’s simply not worth the risk to entrust men with real power.