Me too.

It’s been hard to ignore the headlines for the past couple of weeks as one woman after another has come forward to tell of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of a powerful Hollywood producer. That the list of names, well known and less familiar, can be so long and yet continues to grow daily is sickening.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Mira Sorvino, Ashley Judd, and Rose McGowan

Reading news stories and reports and scrolling my Twitter feed leaves me feeling frustrated and powerless, because while not every man is an abuser I do think it’s accurate to say that, at the very minimum, every woman and young girl has felt the uncomfortable and unwanted attention of a man at least once in her life. This is something all women know, and feeling at a loss at how to best articulate myself on this issue here’s what’s tumbling around my head:

  • that if every man who has ever sexually abused or harassed a woman was fired from their job or position of power the vacuum created would be unimaginable, it would be THAT fucking huge.
  • We need to stop questioning women about the abuse they are victims of and focus more on the kind of men who abuse and harass. Women are not simply abused: rather, another person, usually a man, has deliberately and consciously behaved this way towards them.
  • Men like HW continue to steam ahead successfully in life and in their careers not because their victims stay silent, but because the boys club has their back. This mans behaviour was not at all secret yet EVERYONE continued to work with him.
  • Is silence a form of complicity? Women staying silent I can understand because sometimes speaking out can take a heavy toll, but men ignoring and not calling out this behaviour in other men I cannot.
  • It’s hardly shocking that sexual harassment and abuse is rife in Hollywood, this is after all the industry that all but invented the casting couch. But let’s not forget the harrowing accounts of former child star Corey Feldman, who described sickening sexual abuse of young male actors at the hands of powerful producers and studio heads.
  • There is a far bigger problem than one Hollywood producer, one industry, or one country. The harassment and abuse of young actresses, women feeling the need to protect themselves when out alone, and the women who die from domestic violence, are all part of the same issue.
  • You can always count on at least one male to challenge you online to provide “evidence” for describing what it is that all women face, while telling of his “friend” the social worker who says that more men are abused by women than vice versa.

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This issue isn’t just the hot topic of the week or month either. A fundamental part of being a female is experiencing unwanted and inappropriate male attention, and that’s something that is almost impossible to explain to the man in our lives. From the sleazy slack jawed ogling we experience from complete strangers as young girls barely out of childhood to sexual violence and assault, the fact that the #MeToo hashtag started by Alyssa Milano three days ago at a friends’ suggestion has already had more than 66,000 replies and 51,000 likes {without counting retweets and subsequent replies}, speaks volumes on the female experience.

Here in Australia singer/songwriter Isabella Manfredi of The Preatures has spoken out about the harassment and abuse she has experienced within the music industry, and some of the replies and comments are enough to prove the point that women are trying to make: this may have been “the norm” for way too long but something needs to change. What she describes is sickening but far from shocking or unbelievable. The brutal truth is that every word rings so true.

Isabella Manfredi

There are people like to make fun of feminism and paint women who identify as feminists as crazy radicals who hate all men, but if there’s one lesson to be taken away from the current discussion it’s that we still have a fuck of a long way to go before we achieve anything even resembling equality.

And how nice would it be to live in a world where our daughters and granddaughters actually felt safe rather than threatened because of their gender?

Where to from here? I wish I knew. I do think that education of both girls and boys is key, a refusal to laugh things off or brush them aside is also needed, and I’d really love to see more onus on the behaviour and expectations of men and far less on what women should do to avoid or deal with harassers and abusers.

Let’s stop victim blaming and start blaming the actual wrong-doers for a change.

Radical, I know.

 

 

 

 

 

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