If you’ve been active online this past week you’ll have seen hundreds of damning articles about the now disgraced sexual predator and movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein. The allegations span a great range of time and severity, from dressing gown encounters in hotel rooms to claims of actual rape – they go back decades, right up to 2015. Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevigne, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd are a few out of several names to come forward, with the latest woman to tell her story being Sophie Dix, who starred in The Advocate. Actor Colin Firth has expressed his regret in not taking the matter further when she confided in him about the horrific ordeal she endured, which ended in Weinstein masturbating outside a bathroom window Dix was hiding in. The originally damning and now infamous article was first published by the New York Times on October 5th, and is responsible for what is now a chain reaction of women finding the confidence to speak about the horror they endured in an exchange to keep their careers. Unfortunately, this is a pattern that thrives in all major industries, particularly entertainment. Rich white men who have never seen oppression other than in the films they produce, allowing their substandard, female subordinates to have a prosperous career in Hollywood so long as they salute to every unwanted sexual advance. This is completely and utterly unacceptable – there is no argument to be had, no other side worth hearing – only the side of the victims.
The current Tsunami of allegations begs the question as to why Weinstein’s perverse advances have been a topic rarely addressed. Nearly all of Weinstein’s victims received settlement payments to remain silent, but unfortunately there have been men free from bribery with the power to bring this to light much sooner than now, who have conveniently chosen not to – and with much less at stake. Ben Affleck and Seth Macfarlane are two massive Hollywood figures that you may have up until now viewed as a couple of the good guys. Rose Mcgowan, one of the first victims to come forward in the Weinstein scandal, sent out a tweet on October 10/17 which implies that Affleck was made aware of her encounter and chose to play dumb to the press when the scandal gained momentum. ” “GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT” you said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie. ”
The most unsettling element of this is that Twitter almost instantly shut down Mcgowans account, citing her tweet that said “Fuck you @BenAffleck” violated the community guidelines. This is something that should scare the hell out of us, as it is not to be taken lightly that a woman is silenced for speaking out about sexual assault in any circumstances, let alone a supposedly censorship free platform removing the voice of an actress of such reputation. Another frightening development is this leading to Affleck himself being denounced by actress Hilarie Burton, and being made to publicly apologise to her on Wednesday for groping her breast on an appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live back in 2003.
I look at Ben Affleck’s example objectively, and for me, he shares the same category as Weinstein. He may not have carried out anything as depraved or as sinister as Weinstein, but silence equals complacency, and if you aren’t actively working to dissemble a problem like sexual harassment then you’re part of the issue. Seth Macfarlane has since apologised for the resurfaced video footage of a joke he makes at a 2013 Oscars event, “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” he says, gaining laughter from the crowd. His comment basically means that since you five are nominees for best supporting actress, you no longer have to fear the end of your careers, or pretend to enjoy giving naked massages and blowjobs to an obese pensioner with a wife and five children. Basically, they’ve made it, and are free to develop their careers without the affirmation of more important men. Macfarlane has since said his comment came from a place of “loathing and anger” but this is questionable considering he slept on the matter for 4 years, and has only just decided to publicly care.
My issue is not with people who have their entire careers on the line when faced with coming forward, I completely sympathise with the graveness of being presented with a situation that involves confronting one of the most powerful men in your industry. Colin Firth had more to lose in 1990 than Macfarlane in 2013 and Affleck in 2017, and what I cannot accept, is the silence of men equally as powerful. Affleck and Macfarlane have both apologised for being mute, one even had to apologise for sexually assaulting a woman himself. But what does this mean for women? How is it that Macfarlane can poke fun at Weinstein’s behaviour at an Oscars press event in front of hundreds, but cannot condemn or issue a statement of solidarity about something seemingly everyone in the industry knew about, gauged by the laughter received at his joke?
I have seen such a positive response so far on social media, but one more thing I must address is male incapacity when it comes to tweeting something other than “this happened to someones mother, someones wife.” Yes, these victims are wives, mothers and daughters. But they are humans first and foremost, and only being able to care about female victims when presented with the roles they play in the patriarchy is unhealthy, and in 2017, unrealistic. We should care about them because they are humans who have suffered trauma at the hands of a sexual predator. Ben Affleck said “We need to do better at protecting our friends, sisters, co-workers and daughters.” Let’s protect women because they make up more than half of the population, less than 5% of film directors, 11% of writers and 19% of producers in the top 100 grossing films. We are a deeply underrepresented group of human beings, and we need people to care about us and take us seriously not only when our sexuality is of attractive benefit to men, or when our sexuality provides you with children and a family. We need to remind each other that our voices are equally as important as the voices of the privileged white men surrounding us, who will never ever know what it is like to spend a day of their lives oppressed.