Although I imagine liberating, this week has been undoubtedly painful for so many women across the world as Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behaviour has brought a host of incredibly important issues to the surface.
From the very moment the news of Weinstein broke, thousands were taking to social media in desperate search of a reason that these women were attacked. What was she wearing? Why didn’t she come forward before now? Where is her proof? – I’ve seen it all.
Of course, the notion that they were attacked because this powerful businessman is plainly a disgusting sexual predator couldn’t dare be considered. The absence of questions surrounding Weinstein’s behaviour was mind-numbingly apparent amongst the flurry of victim blaming. It’s almost as if society has been conditioned to automatically favour men or something.
As inspiring and as heart-warming as #MeToo is, it highlights a massive problem. The fact that so many women have been forced to rely on numbers in order to feel comfortable enough to speak out about their experiences of sexual assault and harassment is a burden society will carry on its shoulders until it changes its norms and attitudes and creates a consistently positive, safe space for women to speak. The sexualisation of women has become so normalised that the very fact they are more than just sexual organs with breasts on legs has become a lost notion.
Many deny the need for Feminism but you only need to take one look at the response to Harvey Weinstein to be assured that this is not the case. We need it now more than ever. This faux sense of equality that we are being fed is beyond the realms of insincerity. Equality of the sexes has a long way to go and our society knows it.
The way woman are perceived is not accidental. The systematic sexism that women face on a daily basis is a direct result of social conditioning. Take film as but one singular example of many. From the “Hot Mom” in your favourite teenage flick to the classic damsel in distress trope, the film industry alone has taught us for a long time that women are sexy and helpless and men are powerful. Always the Bond girl never the Bond. This kind of message is precisely the reason we are up against such a problem in the real world. After all, why are women complaining about being pinned down by a successful man and forced to receive oral sex? Women are supposed to fulfil male sexual urges, no?
Absolutely fucking not.
Let’s focus on the biggest problem of them all. The male ego. The “crisis in masculinity” as Emma Thompson put it. Dangerous narratives around sexual relationships occur far too often within the male community, particularly at an adolescent age. These narratives are built on a sense of entitlement to the female body. Positive sexual relations and consent is something we must endeavour to teach boys from the minute they are able to read and absorb information. If we can teach society to disregard women, we can teach it to treat them as equals in all forms. Including in a sexual context.
The victims of Weinstein’s over-inflated, sexually aggravated persona were young and largely powerless against a man like him. This wasn’t an accident. This week, the strength of those women that were so badly wronged, created something incredibly beautiful.
They created a space for women to release, for women to unite and to support each other. I don’t look at that man or any man like him and see power. I see weakness. I see cowardice. I see power in the women that stood united against them. The women that stopped him and others from ever assaulting another. Regardless of status, he and his fellow predators have this week been defeated by the world’s most formidable force – the female population.
– Kelly Given, YSI National Equalities Officer