Unless you’ve been living a life void of social media lately, you’ve no doubt seen the #MeToo movement take shape.
In light of Harvey Weinstein allegations recently, many women have come forward to discuss their own experiences with sexual harassment – in the workplace or in general. The likes of Woody Allen, who in my opinion is sexually perverted himself, have asserted their trepidation’s with the cause. Allen stated that he fears a “witch hunt” will brew in response to this trend of openness. Hmm, that would be really awful for you, now wouldn’t it Woody Allen?
Admittedly, most males I know support women’s rights, at least in the limited way they personally can. Though some are afraid of talking about feminism with women. Convinced that each statement about patriarchy or female oppression relates directly to them. FYI it doesn’t unless you make a point of fighting against feminist expression.
It often baffles me how some people can argue that the fight for women is over. Yes we have the vote, yes we can attain careers (with an average of 30% less monetary gain) and it is true that sexism is for the most part considered to be bad. Though, even when ignoring, for the moment, the objectification, abuse, and oppression women face globally, in our society women are still seen as the lesser sex. The prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse is proof of this and it is impacting our minds, bodies, and careers.
At the end of the day, men like Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and Casey Affleck are placed in powerful positions and as a result, manipulate situations to give women even fewer opportunities to speak out about their experiences with sexual assault.
Sadly, it’s easy to see why women in the film industry have felt the need to remain quiet, for the sake of their careers. It is already so difficult for women to maintain leading roles as they age. While men like Will Smith and Ben Affleck continue to play love interests, once a woman reaches the age of thirty, she’s expected to go on a hiatus, until she is old enough to play the part of a nurturing mother. And when a young woman is starting out in the film industry, a man like Harvey Weinstein could kill her career in an instant, which is probably why we have never heard of some of the women who are speaking out about his abuse.
Though, despite the prevalence of such behavior in the film industry, it is just an example of the difficulties women face. Both with sexual assault and being undermined in the workplace. It is happening everywhere and until women speak out about their everyday experiences, men can never understand the true plight of women.
I have had varying experiences with men that have left me feeling overpowered and afraid. When I was 16, I was tackled by a boy at a party. My head fell two inches away from a rock and a group of guys had to pull him off me. When I was 18, again at a party, two older men tried to undress me and haul me into a cab. I was drunk, but luckily not too drunk to escape the situation. I have been in relationships where my body has not been respected and I suffered mentally and physically as a result. My #MeToo story is the experience I had this year in Sydney, when my landlord, who was a single dad in his mid-forties, came into my room when I was sleeping and tried to get into bed with me. I had to leave my internship as a result and move back to Melbourne until I could find another place to live. It was honestly petrifying spending that night in his house, knowing that he could come in again at any moment. Conveniently for him, he had chosen the one night I had come home drunk to make his move, so I couldn’t drive anywhere and I didn’t know anyone in the city who would take me in if I left. Because of his actions, my professional position was jeopardised and I had to go to great trouble and expense to protect myself.
It’s worth noting that I don’t find these events very monumental. These interactions with men are sadly so frequent for every girl, that we have accepted it as something unavoidable. It’s not unavoidable. Some men will consider themselves to be good enough if they are not a rapist. It’s not good enough. But frankly, rape is so devastatingly common, in any country or domain. So often women, myself included, feel lucky to not have been violated like that.
The #MeToo campaign is not only empowering for women and comforting for us to know that we are not alone. It is also terrifying that almost every woman and girl I know have been subjected to unacceptable actions at the hands of men. I hope our empowerment undermines the power men feel when following, groping, harassing and assaulting someone.
The internet, frankly, has got a lot to answer for. Porn and Facebook’s subject matter can make certain actions and ideals seem acceptable. Clicktivism and feminist tokenism are also far too common with the introduction of the internet. However, this campaign is truly highlighting the fact that the fight for equality is not over and that this generation of men need to embrace change and actively think about their interactions with women.
I would like to finish up by stressing that not all men contribute to this vacuum of sexual inequality and it’s not only women who have been victims of sexual assault. The discourse surrounding these crimes is nearly impossible for victims to contribute to and so there is still so much we don’t know about our societies undercurrent of sexual assault. But the more we reach out to people, offer help and unite in suffering, the stronger this movement will be and hopefully, we can minimise unacceptable interactions.
If you are or have been sexually abused please reach out to a family member, friend, GP or counselor. . No incident is too insignificant to mention.