Me Too | Sexual Harassment

I am all too aware of slacktivism. Usually, I’m not one for rainbow backgrounds and political hashtags. I only partake in these trending movements if I’m actively making a difference or contribution. But #METOO changed this. The campaign lead by Alisa Milano following the Harvey Weinstein rape allegations. #MeToo gives voice to those were too afraid to speak up against sexual harassment and abuse. Victims are often bribed, shamed, ridiculed, threatened or ignored into silence. Through strength in numbers, the #METOO campaign hashtag holds power.¬†By sharing our stories we are building a safe space that encourages those suffering to speak up.

In the past month, there have been countless women and men in the public eye, revealing their own harrowing experience of harassment. Previously, sexual harassment was made to be a sacrifice that seemed an inevitable part of the “Hollywood package deal.” But it no longer has to be.

Yes, patriarchy is predominant in every industry, but the entertainment industry is notorious for it. I’ve spent the past five years aspiring to be part of the film and entertainment industry. I had hoped these rumours of corrupt corporate men were exaggerations. It disgusted me to learn the reality. I experienced first hand just how deeply embedded the toxic culture of old-Hollywood “casting couch” resides.

I’m not one to share heartfelt anecdotes about my life, but I wanted to let other women, especially those in the entertainment industry, know that they are alone.

MY #METOO STORY

It started at a wrap party. The kind that lived up to every Hollywood cliche, sex, drugs, scandals, all hidden behind glistening closed doors.

I wanted to disappear, so I dressed down, covered up and kept my eyes fixed to the floor. Anything to avoid sexual advances.
As the evening aged, the polite conversations turned psychical. Power hungry fragile egos were everywhere. Under the influence and on the prowl. They grabbed, groped and ushered me towards them. One man pleaded with me to ‘come upstairs, where the real party” was. To this day I’m grateful I descended those stairs.

I lost count of how many men advanced on me that night.
Although nothing happened to me, this was still a form of sexual abuse that ate away at me.

I tried talking to friends, but many of them thought it was a cool party and didn’t understand the isolation and fear I had experienced.

It was my first major Hollywood production and I understood how lucky I was to be part of it. I worried that openly discussing my discomfort would seem ungrateful.

As a result, the events of that evening signified the battle I would always face in an industry I adored unless something changed.

 

WHY AM I JOINING THE #METOO MOVEMENT?

So I’m contributing to the #MeToo revolution because;

  • Being hit on back-to-back by a room full of men at a wrap party is not my idea of fun.
  • I spent most of the evening hiding in the girl’s bathroom cubical just to feel safe.
  • My manager was conveniently absent that night. When I tried talking to her about it, she said everyone was just having a good time.
  • “I was drunk – high – out if it,” is a not a sorry. It’s the perpetrator’s pathetic attempt to relinquish the responsibility of abuse.
  • I now greet males with weary and caution.
  • “If you’re nice to the boys at (television channel) there may be job opportunities for you…”
  • Underhand sexual comments, being told to “play the game,” receiving menial tasks while the boys have beers.
  • I had to take a break from an industry I love to recover.

WHY EVERY INSTANCE OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT MATTERS

These instances of sexual harassment may seem small or insignificant, but they weigh ominously on the shoulder of victims and feed this menacing culture of subtle violence.

Consequently, the silence, active neglect and blatant apathy, ominously looms above victims. Because it subtly eats away at you, never “serious enough” as a single case but collectively it consumes. Confidence, self-worth, and willpower are all swallowed by sexual assault.

This isn’t an allegation against men. It’s a fight against the culture of accepted sexual harassment. It affects everyone in every industry and needs to stop.

Once upon a time, Hollywood was the media and money was the authority. Old white men ran the business, but power never equated strength. Silence only makes them stronger. Technology has given us a voice. Now they can hear us, what will we do next?

The girl’s bathroom has always been a place of refuge, solidarity and real conversation, I hope we can continue to share our stories until the problem is eradicated.

xx

I’d love to hear how you handle these situations and practical ways we can prevent this from happening.

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