Equality & Diversity
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.
Euphemisms such as the casting couch must go – they’ve been used to normalise abuse for too long
In an interview with BBC’s Newsnight, actress Emma Thompson said abusive behaviours were diminished by this long-held euphemism. The term “pestering” -– as she says it might have been described in more straitened times -– seems almost innocuous; relating to something a little bit annoying and that should just be shrugged off. Again, it is this script that has long driven attitudes and behaviours. Thompson adds that the language of sex addiction also masked what can more rightly be described as predatory behaviour.
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.
It really feels like we may be at a turning point (I really hope we are). It's like there's been a collective awakening though really I think many women have been awake the entire time, it's just that now they've decided that - come what may - they're going to speak out. It's like that famous quote from Network, 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!'. One of the (very) few good things that came from Donald Trump getting elected is that it has been made abundantly clear that we're not in a post-feminist world, and that women need to continue fighting for their rights. And wow are they fighting!
As we get further away from the Weinstein revelations he's become less the focus of interest and merely one example among many of how the patriarchy has kept women (and men) from being able to report sexual harassment and abuse, and how powerful men have contrived to perpetuate this but how we are all complicit in maintaining this status quo.
Your Reckoning. And Mine.
It's a long and extremely thought-provoking piece that I highly recommend reading as it examines the complicity of women in maintaining this situation without ever judging, and recognising that the most many could do was make the best of a bad situation.
Some of my friends have no patience for men’s sudden penchant for introspection, but I’m a sucker; I feel for them. When they reach out, my impulse is to comfort. But reason — and a determination not to placate, not now — drives me to be direct, colder than usual: Yes, this is a problem. In fact, it’s your problem. Seek to address it...
Women, of course, are doing our own accounting, attempting to classify moments from our pasts to gauge how they fit into the larger picture. Sure, he DM-ed me late at night asking me what my sexual fantasies were, but he didn’t masturbate against my leg and then threaten to kill me, as James Toback allegedly did; he didn’t hire ex–Mossad agents to dig up dirt about my exes and my sex life, like Weinstein did. Okay, but why can’t we stop thinking about it? Why does it feel so closely related?
It is such a good piece. I could quote so much of it but I will restrain myself, except for this,
And yet, we are still the protectors on some level. Despite the talk of witch hunts, and the satisfaction of finally seeing a few men penalized in any way whatsoever for their wrongdoing, most women I know feel torn about both the vague prospect and the observed reality of these men losing their jobs. We think of their feelings and their families, fret that the disclosure of their misdeeds might cost them future employment, or even provoke them to harm themselves. But this is something else we’re now being compelled to notice: how we’re still conditioned to worry for the men, but somehow to not afford the same compassion for women — their families, their feelings, their future prospects — even in a reckoning that is supposed to be about them, about us.
Won’t someone please think of the men?!
This piece looks at some of the 'self-reflection' men have been doing and highlights how pathetic a lot of it has been.
Every girl and woman over the age of six is playing the world’s tiniest violin for men who have managed to stumble through their lives, achieving success and wielding authority over other people, and yet are only now getting around to wondering, like, did I ever do anything? As if that's not one of the first self-interrogations girls are taught to employ without mercy and the hardest to ever answer in the negative, a reality which men have exploited since the beginning of time? Did I smile too much? Did I not smile enough? Welcome to our world, men....
How do humans this dumb manage to get two matching shoes on in the morning, much less run so many industries? The answer, of course, is not that men have no way of knowing the difference between being friendly and being an abusive slimeball or worse. Of course they do. But some men want an authoritative articulation of the rules stated for the record now, while we are still processing and reporting on the structures that have kept abusers in power for so long, so they can start looking for new loopholes immediately. Then, in the next moment of cultural shift, they will have fresh ammunition to throw back in our faces when we push back against whatever the next vanguard of creepery turns out to be. No fair, you never said THAT was out-of-bounds!
The myth of the male bumbler
Male incompetence is a subtle form of misogyny
These two pieces work together so brilliantly. The first looks at men in the public sphere and the second at men in the private sphere, but in both spheres the articles highlight how men get to use incompetence to get out of doing things they don't want to do, and as a cover to do things they want to do but know they shouldn't.
Firing a few bad guys isn’t enough: Fixing gender inequality is hard work
A really important piece that looks at getting rid of the current crop of harassers only gets rid of the current crop of harassers, and does nothing to prevent a new crop from springing up.
What's driving a lot of women's red hot rage right now isn't just the unwanted grabby hands and licking tongues we've had to endure in silence. It's the fact that... we're still widely considered less than people in our own right and more as accessories for men.
It's easy to see how the narrative of chivalry will work to protect the power structures that led to sexual harassment in the first place. Men will tell each other that "respect" for women isn't about seeing us as smart people who are equal to men in every way, but simply about keeping one's hands to himself. Men will continue to hire and promote each other over women who are often more talented, but congratulate themselves for refraining from dry-humping the women who have been relegated to support staff.
To Hell With the Witch-Hunt Debate
The inevitable backlash has it's own backlash (thankfully) and this piece does a great job of telling all the hand-wringers why they need to stop worrying.
Saying there’s a sex panic on the grounds that women don’t like having their asses grabbed is the 2017 way of calling women frigid.
Due Process Is Needed For Sexual Harassment Accusations — But For Whom?
The last piece is also on the witch-hunt, but illustrates how much of it is media-created in the search for false balance. It's a fascinating and quite infuriating read.
We ended the call and I just sat frozen in my chair for a few minutes. Did this really just happen? Was I seriously just asked by the third largest paper in the nation to write their “feminazi” narrative to counter their “reasoned and compassionate” editorial? Was I just asked to be one of the excuses for why this whole “me too” moment needed to be shut down? Was I just asked to be their strawman?
To Guys Who Think It's "Hard To Be A Man" Right Now, I’ve Got Some News For You
This is a really good piece highlighting that men's sudden awareness that they should be careful around women is merely a small taste of how women have had to think for millennia.
The air seems to vibrate with powerful (and abusive) men's fear as more allegations are brought into the public eye, and that's essentially unprecedented. And as new stories come out again and again, I fully encourage men to re-examine themselves and their past behavior. Just like not being racist in a deeply racist world takes work, not being sexist in an environment that normalizes sexist attitudes requires conscious commitment and awareness.
But what you don't get to do is complain about it — because, congratulations, you are now getting a free sample of how women have to act around men all the time.
#MeToo is working: New data shows attitudes on harassment are changing
This is fantastic news, I just hope these improvements hold and don't disappear when the stories eventually lose the media spotlight.
Last year, 65 percent of those polled felt men had more positions of power in society than women. Now 87 percent do. There were similar findings on questions about women's leadership, the impact of sexism and whether the respondents talked about sexism with their friends and family....
The myth that sexual harassers are misguided Romeos who are just clumsily trying to flirt has given way to a greater understanding that men harass in order to dominate women, as feminists have long asserted. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed indicated a belief that men harass because of the "desire for power and control over women," and 88 percent expressed a belief that they do it "assuming they won't get caught or face consequences."
This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work.
This is a long but important piece that gets to the crux of the matter.
What it’s really about is work, and women’s equality in the workplace, and more broadly, about the rot at the core of our power structures that makes it harder for women to do work because the whole thing is tipped toward men.
In other words, sexual harassment may entail behaviors that on their own would be criminal — assault or rape — but the legal definition of its harm is about the systemic disadvantaging of a gender in the public and professional sphere. And those structural disadvantages do not begin or end with the actual physical incursions — the groping, kissing, the rubbing up against. In fact, the gender inequity that creates the need for civil-rights protections is what has permitted so many of these trespasses to have occurred, so frequently, and for so long; gender inequity is what explains why women are vulnerable to harassment before they are even harassed; it explains why it’s difficult for them to come forward with stories after they have been harassed, why they are often ignored when they do; it clarifies why so many women work with or maintain relationships with harassers and why their reactions to those harassers become key to how they themselves will be evaluated, professionally. Gender inequity is cyclical, all-encompassing.
What Salma Hayek’s Weinstein story reveals about Hollywood power and pay
This really highlights what the previous article is talking about.
Minnie Driver: men like Matt Damon 'cannot understand what abuse is like'
Minnie Driver calls out Matt Damon and other men who seemingly refuse to get it.
Peter Jackson Rebukes Harvey Weinstein’s Denial On Ashley Judd & Mira Sorvino
This is a really big deal as this potentially gives Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino the ammunition they need to sue Weinstein.