This isn’t necessarily ‘year abroad’ related but it’s something I’ve wanted to think through and write down, mainly for myself, since a seminar I had around a week ago. I was in my Monday afternoon ‘Comically Challenged: Political (In)Correctness’ seminar, which looks at the comedy business, what makes people laugh, and delves into themes in stand-up comedy such as racism, sexism etc. Last week class turned into a lively discussion about the news reported that weekend relating to American stand-up comedian Louis C.K and sexual misconduct.
Some fans in the class of Louis’s stand-up comedy were talking about their shock and upset at finding out about the allegations, and we all commented on his ‘apology’ and how it never actually said ‘sorry’ to any of the women who were harassed. Naturally, the conversation moved on to discuss other famous male stars who had sexual misconduct allegations against them, namely Weinstein, Hoffman and Spacey.
The debate was interesting, we talked about whether production companies like Netflix who create and produce House of Cards, had any responsibility in investigating claims or rumours circulating (it seems that most of these men’s sexual misconducts had been ‘well known secrets’ of the industry for years) about their stars. The pattern was the same with Weinstein, Spacey and Louis C.K.; rumours were well known but networks/production companies/other stars were happy enough to profit from these men continuously for years, and only dropped them and axed their shows as soon as their company name’s could be muddied by involvement with the men. Some argued yes, some no, and it was all a fair debate…
That was until one- I must note- male in my class piped up with the old “I find it a bit strange that all of these people are coming forward now, isn’t that a bit of a coincidence”. I looked to my left and literally all of the girls were rolling their eyes, and the instructor looked uncomfortable. Just to state to anyone that was unsure, it is not ‘coincidence *wink wink chuckle chuckle*’ that women and men are only coming forward now with their claims of sexual assault/harassment/misconduct. It is because up until now, with The New York Time’s shattering piece on Weinstein, a long line of female celebrity stars supporting each other, a huge Twitter #MeToo campaign, international outrage and stripping of the reputation of a top Hollywood producer, women and men who have experienced sexual assault have not felt confident enough that their claims will be believed. Up until now, they feared their stories would be dismissed, hushed up, paid off and that this would effect their livelihood. So no, to the male in the seminar who tried to insinuate that people were ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, they are not, and by accusing victims of doing this it may provide them with another reason NOT to come forward.
It may be that your favourite star has already been accused, or you’re simply waiting for that claim to be published since there seems to be a new one everyday. Maybe you want to ignore the story, or claim like Lena Dunham that THIS is the accusation that is one of the 3% of false rape claims (ah what a mistake for white feminism). But that does not mean that these victims are making it up for attention or money, it simply highlights the extent to the issue of male dominance in these industries, lack of understanding of consent, power relations between men and women in every work place and the importance of telling your story to encourage others to come forward too.
So here’s to arguing against everything that guy from my seminar ever says again (don’t worry, I’ve already started), and to understanding that these issues discussed run deeper than ‘jumping on the bandwagon’…