A Guest Post by Professor X
[CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of misogyny, violence, sexual assault and rape]
How do you follow up an article titled 2016: A Great Year for Misogyny, a year on, when nothing has really changed in the world? By getting angrier, and titling it 2017: Here We Go Again, or 2017: It’s All Still Fucked, or maybe even 2017: We’ve Learnt Fuck All.
Now before I get into this, I want to firstly give all my support to the women that have been fighting Hollywood superpowers the last 2 weeks, and to the women fighting sexual violence across the world on a daily basis. You all inspire me with your strength and determination and I stand by you 110%.
Secondly, since I haven’t done this publicly (and won’t be), I want to add my story to #metoo. Sorry, wait, *stories. Because unfortunately for myself, like most women (and a lot of men) I know, I don’t just have 1 story of sexual harassment and violence to tell – I have too many to even count. So I’m going to tell you the 2 that stand out so much, there’s no possible way for me to ever forget them: rape at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, and the harassment I faced, that verged on stalking, from a guy I went on 1 date with.
The details of my rape are unimportant, and too personal for me to feel comfortable sharing, even anonymously, with you lot, but the situation is familiar to a lot of stories: I was alone with my boyfriend at the time in his bedroom and he didn’t take no as an answer. It’s not a new or unique story, but it’s important all the same. I hear similar stories so much that I can’t help but feel disheartened every time because nothing changes. Most of us don’t speak out because of shame and internalised blame, and the very rational fear of being told that all these internalised feelings are actually correct: that we are to blame and we should be ashamed… That the popular guy in school was just being a teenage guy, and actually it wasn’t rape, because 2 weeks before I didn’t have any objection to sleeping with him. Think about every person you know, are any of them capable of this? Your answer is probably no, but so was mine before this happened, because I would never have suspected that someone so “loving” and funny and likeable would’ve been capable of this. None of our friends would’ve thought that either. Now consider why this situation is so common: because this form of power is so easy to manipulate.
My second story I will give some detail to, whilst trying to keep it short, because it’s hauntingly similar to another story I read this week: how Sam Kriss used an assumption of “natural authority” to harass a woman until she felt “trapped in some sort of hyper heterosexist hellscape”. Way back when I was only 19, I got chatting to a friend of a friend online, we went on 1 date (after which he manipulated the situation so he ended up staying the night on my bedroom floor), then things started to get bad. He hated that I was still good friends with my ex (I repeat, 1 date), he became convinced that I was lying about being too tired after work to see him every night (again, 1 date), and he would show up at my door, knowing that my flatmate wasn’t home, angry that I hadn’t texted him back (for good measure, 1 date). He put such fear into me that I was terrified of coming back to my empty flat at night for the 2 weeks (in mid-winter) that my flatmate was away. He used the mutual friend we had, and the heart-breaking back story of how his ex left him because she is, wait for it…GAY (shock, horror, poor him), as a way to make me feel worse about the way I had “treated” him. After all this, he still got invited to parties, and he still had the same friends, and he was still in a position to corner me in my own bedroom 6 months later with no escape (luckily another friend noticed and followed us).
Both of these stories, whilst also being my attempt to add another voice to the conversation, do have a point. They’re both very related, in different ways, to a larger conversation being had this week: the epidemic that is sexual harassment and violence, and in relation, the use of power and manipulation as tool in achieving this.
It’s been well over a week now since the New York Times article that exposed the depth of Harvey Weinstein’s horrific treatment of women. Actually, let me rephrase that: It’s been well over a week now since the New York Times article that KICKED PEOPLE’S ASSES INTO TAKING NOTICE OF HARVEY WEINSTEIN’S HORRIFIC TREATMENT OF WOMEN, because if anyone is still falling for the “I didn’t know” excuses at this point, fuck off and educate yourself, please. Do you know what shocked me most about this entire situation? Not the level of Weinstein’s depravity , not that A Lot of people knew about it and covered it up or didn’t say anything, and not that he’s supposedly left-wing (we’ll come back to that later). What shocked me most was how many high-profile men are coming out to say they support the women involved while claiming they knew nothing about it. I’m sorry, but do you really expect me to believe George Clooney et al didn’t know the stories? Are you telling me that all these women were warning each other, but no one ever told the men that were around? According to Rose McGowan, Ben Affleck (*cough* not surprising *cough* mind his brother *cough* no one believed him anyway *cough*) knew even before she confided in him. Brad Pitt supposedly confronted Weinstein over it. So I’m calling bullshit on anyone else who wants to add their name to the list of the supposedly-ignorant.
SIDE NOTE: this is in no way intended to place blame on anyone other than Weinstein, and anyone who helped cover his tracks. It is absolutely in no way intended to place blame on any women who didn’t speak out or separate themselves from Weinstein because of fear, manipulation or shame. It is 100% in no way intended to suggest that someone should’ve outed any of these stories without consent. But, nothing is ever changed if those (mostly men) in a similar position of power (like Brad Pitt et al were) do nothing.
Bringing this conversation closer to home, the news broke this week that Solo 45 (a member of group Boys Better Know) is being charged 29(!!!) counts of rape. Given that he was already charged with rape and imprisonment in July, we all already knew he was done, but TWENTY-FUCKING-NINE. WHAT THE FUCK. Now this is where I’m struggling because what should’ve happened in July, then especially what we should’ve seen Thursday morning, is Skepta, JME, Stormzy, Drake, any and everyone who is currently involved in the music industry and ESPECIALLY those who have worked with or around Solo 45, condemning this. SO WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY. Skepta is out here posing in photographs next to another guy charged with rape, while wearing a “gender equality” top (no explanation has been given to this, leading to some claims that he is blocking anyone on Twitter who demands one)…and hasn’t commented on the allegations against Solo 45. JME gave us some pish about how 29 counts means Solo can’t be totally innocent but he’d rather wait for the trial before making a judgement. Stormzy (very, very rightfully so because the stunt they pulled is so disgusting, as usual) pulled the Daily Mail up for using his name in their headline and his face as a main photo in the breaking news article about Solo …but hasn’t yet commented on the actual allegations. Wiley, Drake & everyone else? Apparently they’ve all disappeared from the face of the Earth because their silence on this is deafening.
Whilst we’re on this topic, let’s also discuss why no one paid this much attention 2 months ago when the story originally broke? Why are 29 charges of rape enough to get people’s attention, but 1 isn’t? A murderer isn’t less of a murderer because they’ve only murdered one person…
I need to make the point that ALLLLL OFFFFF THISSSSS connects back to the very serious relationship between violence against women and left-leaning/left-wing men. (Another side note: this paragraph ONLY is discussing left-wing men, not the entire article, let’s not all convince ourselves that this is all an attack on left-wing men, or that we’re pretending everyone else is fine or gets let off in some twisted way.) Remember the second #metoo story I told way back at the beginning of this article and how I said it was reminiscent of the Sam Kriss story circulating this week: the asshole in my story was left-leaning. Harvey Weinstein – a left-wing, Democrat supporter who donated cash to the Clinton campaign. Solo 45 – no clue, but mind #grime4corbyn? That was JME who is now refusing to comment more than “eek, how bad is this”.
I’m not deeply involved in any political circles, and I’ve only been paying serious attention to politics for the better part of 5 years now, but between my experiences and what I’ve seen in that time, and my ties to this blog, I know for a fact that there is a toxic belief in a lot of left-leaning/left-wing men that the fact they’re on the left and have “liberal” beliefs or believe in gender equality or like to call themselves fucking feminists, they can’t be misogynistic or sexist, and their behaviour doesn’t fall into the “sexual violence” category. They all like to believe that they support women, believe them and stand up against violence against women.
But guess what? They couldn’t be more wrong as anyone who’s read what Sam Kriss wants you think is an apology could tell you: it is filled to the brim with the typical loaded words anyone who’s seen this before would expect. An almost grovelling “I feel so bad” “it’s all my fault” apology that maybe would’ve passed for sincere (rather than a blatantly obvious attempt to manipulate the situation)…had he not tried the pathetic attempt at defence that I’ve come to expect in these situations. Unfortunately for Sam Kriss, and all the left-wing men who share his same belief system, there is no line to cross between persistence and aggression.
Persistence is harassment. Aggression is harassment. The only difference is that society allows one to be deemed slightly more acceptable under the guise that it’s “not violent”, but any woman who has been on the receiving end of said persistence would tell you that, actually, it’s not any less uncomfortable, unnerving or terrifying, and chances are, it is actually still aggressive. Also on the topic of Sam Kriss’ apology, and I’m going to say this loud enough because apparently this is still not understood, BEING IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP DOES NOT EQUAL CONSENT. This is all a similar line of reasoning that was used by Assange , which is a perfect example of why lefty men, like Kriss, like the guy from story 2, like Weinstein, think they can pull this shit and get away with it: because on all of these occasions, all of these men have been defended to the teeth by their fellow lefty pals and we’re told to give them the benefit of the doubt because they’re…not…the bad guys???
If any of this is still surprising to you, then you still don’t get it. In the article I wrote 1 year ago, I made the false claim that Donald Trump had a slim chance of becoming President after the video emerged of him boasting about assaulting a woman. Donald Trump is now President of the United States. Despite this video and the numerous allegations of sexual violence against him. Literally one of the most powerful people in the world.
So if you’re still surprised by any of this, open your eyes, talk to the people around you, do some research, then do something about it. Ask any woman you know, more than half of them will have experienced a similar type of sexual violence in the workplace as those targeted by Weinstein. More than half. There’s a 35% chance that any woman you talk to is the victim of sexual violence. 35%. There’s no question as to why #metoo went viral so quickly. We all live it on a daily basis, and we all have to navigate our lives around it. So why is any of this surprising to you?
When I re-read my last article earlier today, this line especially stood out to me: “We being women who should not have to discuss this more, because we know exactly what the conversation around this is, and that we’re not being listened to.” Everyone is talking about “women & survivors are finally being listened to” but that’s not actually true. If it was, then why did no one pay attention when Solo 45 was charged with rape in August, why has it taken 28 more counts to grab big attention? Why is no one from the grime/music scene jumping to condemn it? Why did it take so long for people to pay attention to Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of power? Why are powerful men comfortable claiming they were ignorant to it? Why are there still so many stories being told in the aftermath of these revelations? Why are people still jumping to defend their pals, or that musician they like, or that maybe semi-decent politician? And why the fuck is Donald Trump still President of the USA?
So let’s talk instead about how SOME women & survivors are finally being listened to, but how we still have so much more work to do and so many more discussions to have before we can actually start patting ourselves on the back. Because you can’t just pick & choose who you believe because it might look bad on you, or you like the accused’s music, or they’ve worked on some “good” movies in the past… That’s not how it works – that’s how we get to a year on with nothing changing…
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