James Cordon of The Late Late Show fame recently found himself in hot water over jokes he made about some of the things Harvey Weinstein has been accused of. I really like Cordon as a general rule but after reading about the nature of his jokes I was pretty shocked.
Cordon has since come out and said that his jokes were meant to shame Weinstein for his abhorrent actions. But what he actually did was make light of the sexual harassment, assault and rape claims against Weinstein.
While it is awful, it’s not surprising. The fact that a “decent” guy like Cordon can’t see what’s wrong here is indicitive of just how deep this problem goes.
We live in a rape culture, whether we want to admit it or not. This is part of the dark underbelly of our current society and it’s time for the change to come.
What Weinstein has done is not unique. The horrid fact that his actions have been known about and covered up for so long by the toxic predatory community in Hollywood is also not unique. But what is a bit more unique and hopefully will become less so is the fury that people are expressing over it. Leading the charge and the dialogue are actresses like Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd, women who have long been vocal about Weinstein attacking them, and for so long no one listened to them.
Nevertheless they persisted.
How many women need to come forward before they will believed? 35 women accused Bill Cosby but it was only after a man pointed this out that anyone listened, and even so he is still a free man. So maybe the question needs to be – how many times can a man rape and assault women before they are convicted.
A lot it would seem.
The number of Weinstein accusers are up to 50…and still counting.
What Weinstein has been accused of is truly horrific – and I do believe he has done these things – but perhaps what is happening could finally shake things up and expose the predatory culture that exists within and without of the movie industry.
Outside of Hollywood a dialogue has begun that is long overdue. The hashtag #metoo has been trending over the last week, brave women all over the social media world are coming forward and sharing their own stories of sexual harassment and assault to show just how many people this affects.
I would wager that for every one woman who has posted this hashtag there are at least ten more who have been through the same thing and have stayed silent.
Although #metoo has been trending recently it is actually 10 years old. The battle cry was originally created by a woman called Tarana Burke. She coined the term in 2007 for a youth organisation called Just Be Inc. Burke created it to try and help sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities, particularly women of colour. It is sad that Burke’s authorship was diminished while actress Alyssa Milano was credited, and it is probably indicative of the deeper issue that while all women are affected by sexual assualt women of colour are the least likely to be listened to, acknowledged and helped. So even within the realms of feminism and sisterhood there is a lot of work to do.
While I admire the women using #metoo and secretly wish I could have been as courageous, I don’t believe it should just be up to women. More men need to join this conversation. Enough of being complicit by staying silent when these things are happening, enough of not believing a woman when she shares her story. Enough of hiding behind the fact that you didn’t see it. And definitely enough of telling women to get over it or justifying these actions in anyway -“boys will be boys” anyone?!
For there to be any hope of change support needs to come from both sides of the gender divide.
Quentin Tarantino recently admitted that he had witnessed Weinstein’s abhorrent behaviour year’s ago and did nothing. He has admitted that he is ashamed that he did nothing. His honesty is admirable to a degree but it is still upsetting that he has stayed silent for so long. His statement has divided people as well because he ended his statement saying that he hoped it would not affect people’s reactions to any of his future work which has cast doubt over his true intentions.
Kevin Smith who has made some of his best movies with Weinstein has released a statement saying that he knew nothing of Weinstein’s actions but that he is completely disgusted and has pledged to give all future royalties from these movies to women’s support groups.
It is hard to know whether to be grateful for the acknowledgement of these men or to see it as too little too late, but maybe we should just accept that these are the first baby steps towards women being listened to believed and no longer having to fight the fight alone.