Thursday, 19 October 2017 10:13

Saddened? Shocked? Disgusted? #Metoo

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There has been a lot of talk recently about the number of shocking and horrifying cases of sexual-related misconduct in Hollywood.

Bill Cosby, who at one time was considered the United States favorite dad has been accused by many women of (drugged) rape, to just last week where  Harvey Weinstein a well known and power film producer and  a co-founder of Miramax assaults was part of a story each done by the New York Times and the New Yorker magazine which reported in detail of many former female employees, models, filmmakers, journalists and famous actresses who reported that in some form or another that Weinstein assaulted or harassed them.
While these haven't been proven in court, Weinstein  been fired from The Weinstein Company (which he created), been removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and many people from the entertainment industry and politics have denounced him.
While this may not seem like this has a lot of relevance to us on the Canadian Prairies, it does.
It initiated a social media campaign called #metoo, in part pushed by actress Alyssa Milano who as of Tuesday afternoon had 62,000 messages; 22,000 retweets and 46,000 likes. The message read... "If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote, 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."
The magnitude of the problem is horrifying. Watching my own personal Facebook feed to see friends and acquaintances type in #Metoo was shocking. I had no idea. That's the problem. It's only been recently that things issues such as mental illness which were considered taboo have recently been openly discussed. The number of women who have stated they are survivors of some form of sexual assault is staggering.
While it's a step in the right direction for awareness with sexual assault cases against women, what now? Now that there's awareness, what can change?
Evil exists, but what needs to change more than anything is a prevailing ‘male privilege’ attitude amongst some, maybe even many  males, which seems to ignore right from wrong, fairness and common decency.
To ignore it and act  as though 'oh well that's just the way it is" is so wrong.
Maybe it's been the lack of communication, sheer frustration with it never changing,  maybe nobody wanted to talk about such things like sexual assault/harassment etc.
Is there a problem?Damn right there is. Why do so many sexual assault cases go unreported? Look at the Hollywood cases. There is embarrassment by the victim and the fact in some cases either legal inaction or a flat out non-belief in the victim has caused the female victims to go into hiding or silent ... hence the shock of all of these women typing #MeToo.
What would cause people to not believe a victim complaining about sexual assault?Really it’s mind-boggling.
Is the male sense of entitlement changing? Maybe it is in tiny increments with awareness and perhaps women don't have to suffer in silence,  but judging by the sheer numbers, men appear to be bullying and using their self-granted power to satisfy themselves.  Many males just plain don't understand the seriousness of the problem or they don't care.
Take for example the Weinstein case. Actor/director Ben Affleck who co-wrote and starred in the breakout and award winning film Good Will Hunting denounced Weinstein which was distributed by Miramax. However even Affleck was chastised as it was shown that he groped a host from MTV Live host Hilarie Burton in 2003 as well as overly physically flirting with Canadian journalist Anne-Marie Losique around that time
Pot. Kettle. Black.
The attitudes where men may 'denounce' the behaviour but the prevailing attitude is almost seen as "haha, you got caught" or inappropriate jokes are made.  In other words, ‘it sucks to be you’ or sexual assault is humorous because “you got caught” with no regards to the victim.
On the Sunday night National Football League telecast, broadcasting legend Al Michael made a joke saying that the New York Giants NFL team had a worse week than Harvey Weinstein. On Oct. 13, talk show host James Corden told a charity fundraiser in Los Angeles “It has been weird this week hasn’t it, watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. Ask any of the women who watched him take a bath … it’s weird watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water...Harvey Weinstein wanted to come tonight, but he’ll settle for whatever potted plant is closest.”
Not funny. Jokes and attitudes like that make men who think this is funny not infantile, but dangerous. This can’t be a “boys will be boys”thing anymore.
The other issue is what many men including myself have as an initial reaction: I don’t know what to effectively say. A female friend of mine posted the following and obviously knows far better than what any man would, what it is truly like to suffer...not just from specific situations, but having to be on guard every second, every day.
She writes on a social media account:
"I say #MeToo because I'm not ashamed of things that aren't my fault. I also say #IBelieveYou for anyone else struggling with putting their own #MeToo into words, or even thinking about it at all. Harvey Weinstein isn't unique to his industry, or any industry. Hell, not even to LIFE. Because men like HW, men like Roman Polanski, men like Chris Brown, and Terry Richardson, and Mike Tyson, and CeeLo Green...and and and and...All these men are the real life bogeymen manifestations little girls are raised to look out for as we grow up. We’re not usually taught to watch out for the successful, powerful guy who offers a flattering word and suddenly-creepy caress. But you bet your ass — word will get around to watch out for ‘wandering hands’ or how to get out of being in a room alone with them – from the other women. But by then it's too late.
“This happens for a couple reasons, one because of the picture I've added to the post, a cross stitch which reads ‘Boys will be boys’? No. To quote my new favourite cross stitch, "boys will be held accountable for their f---ing actions".
“(Second) Until it slaps you in the face you don't really realize that our society systematically put "blame" on women for what's done TO them (and ignores that vulnerable men also suffer at the hands of those more powerful than them).
“We need to start reframing our thinking that reinforces the damaging thinking that things ‘happen’ to women, not that they're CAUSED BY SOMEONE ELSE'S DECISIONS.
“I've seen some criticism about some guys suddenly getting vocal about standing up for women because of a mom/sister/daughter/ whatever. Sure, in a perfect world those personal connections shouldn't be a sudden realization because, last I checked, women are PEOPLE and any kind of assault against anyone SHOULD be seen as wrong. But, okay! If that's what it's taken for some people to find their voice to speak out and feet to stand up, GREAT. But now comes the most important part: EVERYTHING FROM HERE ON OUT. We need allies ALL the time, not just right now.
“This won't change instantly. But we need more people saying #IBelieveYou until we no longer have anyone saying #MeToo.”
She’s right. Self entitlement has to end so we can eliminate this problem. While the campaign has its critics i.e. the victims have to make themselves public while their accusers are just ugly, misogynistic  shadows, the hope is that there is newfound awareness. At least it’s a start, now we all somehow we have to finish it.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with comments about this opinion piece at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor