Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched on silently at the news concerning Harvey Weinstein, frustrated and disgusted yet equally unsurprised. The world appeared aghast. Harvey Weinstein isn’t the first of his kind. And the type of behaviour he displayed was and is not uncommon in a multitude of industries, ones I have worked in myself before. Whatever the industry, there will always be a Harvey Weinstein. What we need is to eradicate the culture, to lose the phrase “it happens”. Our work starts there. The moment we refuse to accept it at the norm, that’s the point at which we can begin to work on eradicating it altogether. There are far too many cases of sexual harassment forgotten about, never mentioned, never reported, slipped under the rug.
The fact is, that despite being 2017 and all the progress we’ve made in a number of areas, we’ve also regressed. If a woman speaks out about sexual harassment in the workplace, it is HER that is looked upon unfavourably and it is HER that is feared for all the wrong reasons. Fear that she may cause an embarrassing lawsuit of some kind. But wait a second, what about the sexual predator that harassed her in the first place? Are we forgetting we have greater reason to be afraid of him?
There are laws in place to protect exactly the type of behaviour that women were subjected to by Weinstein, yet when women seek protection through such laws, they are often denied it and subsequently ostracised.
To be a feminist, you’ll agree, you don’t need to stand up on a pillar, wave about your flag and rant and complain about men. You just, at times like these, need to be brave enough to stand up for yourself. To recognise that the world isn’t defined by what some men who hold the most senior positions in certain industries believe; that the only way you can be successful is to respond positively to their sexual advancements. Your sexuality, your beauty, the way you dress, all of these things are not and should not be the reason for your promotion. Dress to power dress, not to please.
Yes, the world rallied round all the women who were mistreated by Harvey Weinstein. But the point is not support in the aftermath. Its the fact that the world and the film industry allowed this to happen in the first place! Your actions would have greater impact in the moment. If something isn’t right, doesn’t feel right, doesn’t seem fair, I urge you not to be afraid to just at the very least make clear your basic human rights. As a woman, I am disappointed that we are still not yet being completely valued for our achievements and instead are seen in almost tunnel-vision fashion; as sexual objects. Rather than as remarkable individuals, with the power to achieve and to be successful in whatever we may desire. But I am equally, if not, more disappointed, as a human being, that we are letting one another down. More than 50 women have come forward about Harvey Weinstein’s actions. Its 2017, this is just not acceptable. Not acceptable in a world where we’ve come so far in terms of healthcare and protection and security. A world in which to become a vet, you require more than 5 different checks. And this is exactly the same world in which Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed over 50 women. How on earth did he slip the net? How could we, did we, let that happen? I ask you then, where is security, law and order, and protection when we need it most? It seems our own systems are failing us.
And the truth is, it starts with us. Failing to report something only serves to condone the behaviour of the likes of Harvey Weinstein. We are failing each other. Always speak up. No matter how frightening the situation, integrity can never be a bad thing.
Let’s not live in a world where we make reporting a sexual crime, or any crime for that matter, a taboo. We have worked hard to create the democratic, civilised society we live in today and as the years go on, it’s in real danger of slipping right through our fingers.
Article by Lux Modhwadia
Photograph – The Sun