If you ask any woman, and leave her to think about it long enough, none of us are that surprised that an incredibly wealthy and powerful man in Hollywood has used his position to sexually assault and intimidate women to fulfil whatever murky desires he hides beneath his bathrobe.
The fact that the prevalence of his behaviour has been protected for so long is also not that astonishing. Sad? Yes. But astonishing? No. This house of cards, sexually fuelled modus operandi was protected by influence in high places, through controlling aspects of the media too frightened, lazy or involved to report the story and also by connections and cash.
But in the real world, stripping away the Hollywood lights, the luxury items and the promises of all your dreams coming true if you suck my insecurities, women were being ‘Harveyed’ simply because men think they have a right to do it.
The recent social hashtag of ‘Me Too’ asks women who have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted to write in the comments, or use the hashtag to indicate if it has also happened to them. This has been in an effort to ‘give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem’. Are you fucking kidding me?
Us women have been sharing our horror at this since time commenced. Over coffee, over wine, over tears, we have relived the feelings we had as these frightening and dangerous situations have unfolded as we fought our panic to think rationally as to how we can escape or at worst, keep ourselves alive or sane enough to get through it; waiting until our predator, our assailant walks out of the room, gets out of the car, closes the office door, so we can pull ourselves together and try and stand up and manage to put one foot in front of the other. The ‘Harvey’s’ have been at us for years.
There in my Facebook feed are all the ‘Me Toos’. I didn’t have to ask these women what happened. We know how the story goes and how the details are similar in effect. I know what happened because all that occurs once this type of shit goes down is the net after effect – women change. Some ever so slightly, others irreparably. That confident woman I know who takes no crap has a ‘Me Too’ by her name. That shy one as well. The one who didn’t make it because it was all too traumatic and devastating.
We know this stuff as women. We are all in the same boat, up shit creek without a paddle if people won’t talk about it. Are we writing ‘Me Too’ on the socials so that men will do something about it? Try to stop it even? What strikes me is that if women all know someone who has been sexually assaulted or harassed then there must be a lot of men out there to whom we should be asking if they have been the perpetrator, you know, just ‘to give a sense of the magnitude of the problem’.
Maybe ask the men if they are like ‘Harvey’ and see if they answer ‘Me Too’. They could write in the comments to show they are the ones who have cornered a woman, made suggestive comments about what they would like to do to them, slipped their hand up under their dress at the speed of light or threatened them if they didn’t succumb to their wishes.
Men could commence the conversation with their peers (and many have already – we are so grateful beyond belief) to bring light on this pervasive practice which in some minds is considered a right. Some people even lean to the scriptures in whatever religion to say, ‘God made it alright’, others just use the fact that ‘it happens’ and we all need to ‘get over it.’ We need more men to call the bullshit, more often. We women need to be more vocal, where we can, and for those who suddenly lose their voice once the damage is done.
We are long past the fact that masculinity needs a revamp. You can see facilitation of bad behaviour made acceptable by men among the powerful and rich, at the top of Government, in the offices. The enablers are both men and women.
As the mothers, the sisters, the girlfriends, we are collectively working for change which often never comes. Maybe if we simultaneously give it all one voice, at the one time, we will be believed. Like now. Through this spotlight on one man’s appalling behaviour and the faux shock from so many men. Perhaps something will change? Perhaps if our brothers, our partners, our male friends got a hold on their mates and reminded them? Will it ever get any better? Can we ever expect something different?
Our men friends out there who love us, care for us, celebrate us, who know it shouldn’t be us who need to dress differently, not go out alone, expect it to happen, we need more of you. We need you to recruit an army of respect because the downfall of women in communities, in tribes, in offices, is your downfall as well. And when it topples it comes at such a price. Just ask Harvey how he’s going now sitting in his denial dressing gown, not a massage in sight. Ever. Again. Because he is now not the person everyone used to want to know. He’s an internet meme that represents the ugliness shown to women each and every day and we won’t stop talking about him or those like him. Welcome to the new type of fame.