News broke this week of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged inappropriate sexual conduct against a lot of women, spanning out over four decades.
At the time of this blog, no fewer than 33 women have spoken out about various incidents where Weinstein has physically sexually assaulted them or behaved inappropriately in a manner that they feel needs brought to attention.
Names among them range from A List stars such as Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan and Gwentyh Paltrow, to women you may not have heard of, such as Lauren O’Connor (an assistant at the Weinstein Company).
As the lovely people of the world tend to do at times like these, support for the women poured out on all platforms of social media. People stood with these women, encouraged them to tell their stories and even felt compelled to share their own.
However, if you look a bit closer, you’ll find the not so nice residents of the Twittersphere sticking their two pence in. Throughout the week, as more names emerged, the story took an ugly slant – people began accusing the alleged victims of Weinstein of (and I grit my teeth when I say this) ‘jumping on the bandwagon’.
Although I fully support the women going through this maddening and awful time, I’m not here to talk about Weinstein and his victims today.
This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, of stories breaking against big names and the public turning their backs on the people that are literally crying out for help. It wasn’t that long ago that the papers were filled with the Jimmy Saville scandal and, like now, as time went on more people stepped forward. They wanted to be counted, and to be believed.
Let me tell you where my problem with this bandwagon jumping comes from.
Most women will recall at, one point in another in their lives, a time where they’ve been told not to walk home alone. To ‘be careful’ getting from A to B. To just pop a bottle of pepper spray or a rape whistle in their bag, just in case.
They’ve been asked to accompany their friend to the bathroom even though they don’t need to pee, have took the long way home to avoid passing a certain place or, most importantly I think, to ‘not wear that’. Just in case.
And what’s the thinly veined subtext of this? Women must travel in packs.
It is not safe to go it alone, and strength comes in numbers.
So when did this become the go-to lesson for our little girls? How is it easier or more acceptable to teach your daughters to not get raped, when it’s not really thought of to teach their sons not to rape.
Of course, I’m not suggesting all men are out to get women. That’s ludicris, and not what feminism is about at all, but it’s important to highlight to comparison of what we are teaching as life lessons to the sexes.
The first woman to come out as a victim of rape is a suspected liar. Where’s the proof? He’s never did anything like that in front of me. He just doesn’t seem like a rapist.
The second, third, fourth woman to come out is jumping on the bandwagon, looking for a bit of sympathy, or maybe some compensation.
Perhaps the people who felt it their business to pass judgement on these women should stop to consider that this is what we’ve been taught to do, ever since we could walk and talk. It’s been instilled in us that we should take precautions when conducting our every day business. God forbid we show too much leg or cleveage, wouldn’t want those poor impressionable boys to get excited and ruin their lives for us, would we?
For every rape case that results in a win for the victim, there’s more that get thrown out.
Well, what were you wearing when it happened?
But he was your boyfriend?
You’d had sex before, right?
Women have been scared to come forward for so long because they’re shown every day how inclined people are to doubt them.
Situations like Weinstein’s are obviously more public, so it really brings to light the scale of the problem. If people like Angelina Jolie can come forward and be doubted, why would Random Rosie from Peckham be believed?
When I decide that the time is right to procreate, and if I have a little girl myself, will I instill the same beleifs into her that were given to me? That she should act in ways that protects her from the scary world we live in? I’m pretty confident I will.
Because even though I’d love to believe a better world’s ahead, where all sex is consensual and derogatory comments aren’t thrown out of car windows like McDonald’s cups, I’m not naive.
And when I walk through a Metro underpass in the dark, you better believe I’ll be using the old ‘key between the knuckles’ trick. You know, just in case.