Over the past couple of weeks, I have been glued to the news, watching in horror as more and more women spoke out against Harvey Weinstein. It has been sickening to hear woman after woman come forward with their stories concerning the Hollywood producer. A huge range of women including Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Eva Green have all come forward condemning Weinstein for sexual harassment, assault, and rape.
Whilst everyone has turned on Weinstein (and rightly so) I can’t help but think that he isn’t the only problem, rather that he is a symptom of a much larger problem: Hollywood itself. Harvey Weinstein is the latest in a string of men who have used their power and influence as weapons to prey on others. Weinstein harassed, assaulted and raped women, whilst all the time being protected by the inherently misogynistic system that goes with the lifestyle of the rich and the famous. We all know that Hollywood is swayed: diversity and representation of minority groups is scarce, women are disregarded when they reach a certain age, there is still a very prominent gender pay gap, very few Hollywood films pass the Bechdel test, and sexual assault is part of the package.
The thin silver lining of the Harvey Weinstein situation is that maybe sexual assault will start getting the airtime it deserves and not simply be pushed under the rug. In the past couple of days, celebrities such as Terry Crews and Blake Lively have come out with their own tales of sexual harassment in Hollywood, and Emma Thompson publicly called Weinstein a ‘predator’ and condemned those who said he merely suffered from sex addiction. On a much wider scale actress Alyssa Milano launched a Twitter campaign called ‘Me Too’ in order to gauge how common sexual assault for women is. It instantly started trending and as it stands, her tweet has been re-tweeted and shared thousands of times. Experiencing sexual assault as a woman is not rate – it’s very, very common.
And yet, despite all this, the system seems to be fighting back. Woody Allen said he feels ‘sad’ about what is happening to Weinstein and has spoken of a Witch Hunt which is sure to follow and celebrities such as Lindsey Lohan have leaped to Weinstein’s defense. Neither of them mentioned his victims. Comedian James Corden made a comedy sketch about the situation, and even though he has apologised since, it’s the system that made him feel it was acceptable in the first place. On a more personal note, I was on a date with someone who actively defended Weinstein on the basis that he was a good producer. This is the type of normalisation that we need to address. And when a victim does speak up, she is silenced. Case and point with Twitter suspending actress Rose McGowan’s account after she openly challenged those defending Weinstein. This act led to a worldwide boycott of the social platform by other women to show solidarity for McGowan.
Hollywood has known about Weinstein’s harassment for years, and the fact that they brushed it under the carpet is appalling. The system needs to change. While Weinstein’s crimes are inexcusable, he is a symptom of a culture which works off the back of ingrained misogyny and sexism. It’s disheartening to see, and terrifying to watch, but when we live in a world where the most powerful man opening brags about sexual harassment all we can do is stand up to it. Whether it’s in solidarity with Weinstein’s victims, calling out cat-callers in the street or even just opening up the conversation: the normalisation for sexual assault has to stop.
*image from Pexels