Sexual assault and sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, is sadly nothing new.
When the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal hit the press two years ago, it was nothing short of earth-shattering. After a millennia of women not being heard about sexual misconduct by their male bosses, it was revelation.
Yesterday, Weinstein sat down with several newspapers and complained about his ruined reputation.
His childlike defense was the following:
“I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago. I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it!” he bragged.
Cry me a river. He knew what he was doing. He knew that he was literally dangling work over their heads in return for sex. He is only crying foul because he got caught and lost everything.
I have a message for Mr. Weinstein. Grow up, grow a pair and admit what you did. An adult admits when they did something wrong. A child not only refuses to admit their error of their ways, they blame others and cast themselves as the victims. Care to guess which one Mr. Weinstein is?
Since the beginning of human history, sexual assault and sexual harassment has been the norm. Especially by powerful men who use sex as a tool against female subordinates or women who lack power. In our era, the balance is starting to tip against the men who use sex as a weapon, but not without the brave women who have come forward.
The new movie, Bombshell, tells the story of Fox News sexual harassment scandal from the perspective of the women who broke the scandal and stopped the harassment in it’s tracks. Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) are the headliners. Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) is the newbie. Rumors of sexual indiscretions against the female staff by the late Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) have been floating around for years, but have not been verified.
The women must make a choice. Do they speak up and lose their jobs? Or do they stay silent and let the toxic atmosphere remain?
This movie is incredibly timely and at times, incredibly uncomfortable. But, I suppose, that is point of this film. Lithgow, as Ailes, is creepy, but not overtly so and not in the first few minutes of the audience meeting him. It is that initial lack of creepiness that makes the audience think that maybe he is not so bad.
If there is anyone to give kudos to, it is the makeup and hair teams. At first glance, one would not know the difference between the really Megyn Kelly and Charlize Theron in character. The resemblance is uncanny.
But, if this film has one flaw, it is that the slow burn is too slow. Anyone who watches the news knows how the movie ends. But it takes a little too much time for the filmmakers to get to that point.
For decades, there were whispers within Hollywood about producer Harvey Weinstein. But as soon as reports surfaced of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they were put down as mere rumor. That is until Kantor and Twohey started digging. That digging opened a Pandora’s box of truth, lies and the people who would do almost anything to close that box again.
This book reads like a fictional thriller instead of a real story. It is a heart pounding roller coaster ride until the very end of the book. We know how the story ends, but there were so many blockages for Kantor and Twohey that I started to wonder if justice would finally prevail. When I finally finished the book, I was relieved that Weinstein was finally getting what was coming to him.
The thing that strikes me about this book and this story is that it is universal among women. The women who come forward in this book tell the same story, with minor details changed for their specific narrative. They range from Hollywood A-listers to fast food workers to teenage girls assaulted by their drunk male classmates. If nothing else, I think that this book and others of this nature are a starting point for a conversation that is more than overdue.
*This post contains spoilers about this season of Grantchester. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the entire season.
Women have been experiencing sexual assault and sexual harassment since the beginning of time. It is only in the past few years that the #Metoo movement has forced the hand of lawmakers and leaders to stop and/or prevent such acts.
This season of Grantchester tackled the issue as only this show can.
After having her children and spending quite a few years at home, Cathy Keating (Kacey Ainsworth) is ready to go back to work. It’s supposed to bring in additional income and give her something to do outside of the traditional roles of marriage and motherhood.
But like many women across the centuries, Cathy has more than the standard workload on her hands. Her lecherous colleague, Anthony Hobbs (Christian McKay) has wandering hands and the idea that his female colleagues are there for his sexual pleasure. The preview of the scene starts at :11.
There are two ways to resolve a story line of this manner: the easy way and the hard way. The easy way would have been that upon finding out about Mr. Hobbs, Cathy’s husband, Geordie (Robson Green) would have jumped into the car, driven to the store where his wife works and give Mr. Hobbs a beating he will never forget.
The hard way is for the women to stand up and use their brains to stop this man. Cathy enlists Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones) to help her get rid of Mr. Hobbs without relying on on her husband.
I won’t give away the ending of this narrative thread, but I will say that it felt satisfying, despite the frustration of Mr. Hobbs not being exposed for the predator that he is.
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a little creativity to ensure that these men are treated as the criminals that they are. Especially when too many women still experience sexual harassment and sexual assault on a daily basis.
Ms. Hirshman starts her book in the 1970’s, when women began to talk to each other and organize against men who took advantage of their female subordinates. She then moves forward in time highlighting a number of accusations of rape and/or sexual harassment against prominent men and the women who were brave enough to go public with the accusations. The list includes the 1991 Clarence Thomas Hearings and the accusations by Anita Hill, the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton Scandal, and the multiple women claimed that Harvey Weinstein took advantage of them sexually.
Reckoning is a perfect title for this book. While telling the story of these brave and bold women, Ms. Hirshman inspires the reader to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. She also pulls no punches, calling out politicians on both sides of the aisle, women who stay silent and men who continue to perpetuate this heinous act.
I have to be honest. I have mixed feelings about this announcement.
One could argue that among the Democratic candidates, he is politically one of the most qualified to run the country. He has been in government for nearly fifty years, eight of those years were as Vice President under Barack Obama. As a liberal Democrat, Biden checks off many of the boxes that liberal/Democratic voters look for in a Presidential nominee.
But still, there a few things that bother me.
His actions during the Anita Hill hearing don’t sit well with me. Granted, it was decades ago, the hope is that he has changed and learned from his mistakes. But it still bothers me that instead of giving this woman a chance to tell her story, she was treated like dirt.
The accusations of being too touchy with certain women. Granted, he did not go as far as Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer, but the fact that did not recognize the boundaries of personal space by these women sends alarm bells off in my head.
Do we really want another old White man serving the highest office in the land? It’s 2019, it’s time to give a woman or a person of color the opportunity to run this country. My fear is that many voters will default to Biden because he is the standard political leader instead of giving another candidate a shot at becoming President.
It’s only April, we won’t know for at least a year as to whom will win the nomination. But whoever they are, they had better be in for a fight, because you know who never backs down from a fight.
It’s 2019. In an ideal world, we would judge each other as an individual, not by factors such as skin color, religion, sex, etc. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where we judge each other based on external factors without knowing who the other person really is.
Anuradha Bhagwati knows all too well about the reality of the world we live in. The only child of strict Indian immigrants, Ms. Bhagwati was on the traditional academic track until she dropped out of grad school to join the Marines. She tells her story in her new memoir, Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience Book. Among the branches of the US Military, the Marines is by far the toughest. Especially for a bisexual woman of color who has the balls not only to succeed, but to stand up the misogynistic and racist men who make it clear that her presence in the Marines is not wanted.
After leaving the Marines, Ms. Bhagwati used her experience to break barriers. Her efforts opened the doors for women to be treated as equals by their commanders while speaking out about the pervasive sexual assault and sexual harassment that women in the military face every day.
This book, from my perspective, should be a must read for every woman. I find the author to be nothing short of inspiring. She could have taken the easy way out and followed the expected path in life. But she took the road less traveled, leading her to pave the way for other women to take the road less traveled.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment has been part of the human experience for an untold number of generations. Thankfully, things are starting to change for the better.
Though former Vice President Joe Biden has not formally announced that he will be running for President for the 2020 Presidential election, the polls over the past few weeks have labeled him as the front-runner among the Democratic candidates.
The hitch, in this potential Presidential run, is that he has been accused of inappropriately touching at least two women. Granted, the nature of the accusations are not as harsh as the accusations against Harvey Weinstein were, but it’s clear that Vice President Biden crossed boundaries that he should have never crossed.
I wish I knew where we could go from here to completely eradicate sexual assault and sexual harassment. We can only legislate and litigate to a certain point. The rest of the journey requires a societal level consciousness about where boundaries lay between men and women. Legislation and litigation is the easy part. Changing the way we view each other and respecting boundaries, that is going to take much more time and effort on the part of all of us.
Men using their power to use women for sex has existed for a millennia, if not longer.
Last week’s episode of Will & Grace addressed the #Metoo movement as only Will & Grace can.
In the episode, Grace (Debra Messing), is spending the day with her father, Martin (Robert Klein). While stopping at a restaurant, Grace reveals that she was sexually assaulted by a friend of her father’s whom she worked for in high school.
I loved this episode. Kudos to the writing team, Debra Messing and Robert Klein for addressing the issue of sexual assault in a way that hits home. The man who assaulted Grace is not a powerful politician or a movie mogul. He is simply an older man who thought that he had the right to sexually assault a teenage girl.
In the pantheon of Will & Grace episodes, this one is for the books. The writers could have hit the viewer over the head. But instead, they told the story of a young girl’s assault and how after it still affected her years after it happened.
Since last fall, the backlash against rich and powerful men accused of sexual assault and/or harassment has been swift and powerful. Men who thought they could get away with such acts without repercussions are finally being forced to admit to their crimes. The newest men added to this dishonorable list is CEO chairman Les Moonves and comic/podcast host Chris Hardwick.
Last week, Mr. Moonves was accused of using the casting couch to fill his sexual needs in return for work. In June, Mr. Hardwick was accused of abusing and blacklisting an ex-girlfriend.
The accusations against Mr. Moonves are still fresh. Only time will tell if he receives the same statement as Harvey Weinstein or if he is exonerated. As of this week, Mr. Hardwick has been cleared of the charges.
I feel like at this point, our collective response should not be all fire and fury. But that also depends on the severity of the charge. The response to the accusations against Aziz Ansari should not be the same response to Harvey Weinstein. But that doesn’t mean that they can get away with it.
The message should be clear. Sexual assault and harassment by both men and women will not be tolerated. Those accused of such acts and found guilty will receive a punishment that fits the crime.