It has been impossible to watch the media in the last few weeks without seeing yet another high profile (male) celebrity accused of sexual misconduct. Some of the accounts are unsurprising – men who had a ‘reputation’, who worked in industries where exploitation seemed to be the norm.
But this is not only about Hollywood – men pursuing a career which gave them access to sexually attractive and vulnerable people, behaving like the paedophile who chooses to work with children. It is not only about the women we know from the media – many of whom have lost their careers and been vilified as ‘crazy’. It is about every woman – the refugee who is routinely raped, the office worker who monitors her clothes and her behaviour, who makes sure that she is never alone with the office ‘lech’.
Women who cannot go to the media, who may not even be able to seek support from their community, who fear blame, who ask themselves what they have done to merit this treatment.
It is a fact that we must all now acknowledge that some men pursue power to give themselves access to sex and that many others see sex as their right. Even ‘good’ men do not really seem to understand the problem – the sheer weight of harassment that women live with every day. Looking back at my own life I have remembered numerous incidents – occasions when I felt debased, when it was made clear that I was not an intellect, a personality, a human being, but only a cunt. And this is how women are ground down – we know that whoever we are we are still objects – nothing we achieve can protect us from this abuse.
I am fortunate I have never been raped, I have not been violently sexually abused – but as a convent educated teenager my driving instructor took me to practise reversing in an area notorious for sex workers; a middle aged university lecturer told me that I should be flattered when a man pressed his erection against me; in an office I would avoid going to the toilet as I had to pass an office of draughtsmen, who would comment on my breasts. And I have overheard male directors of a politically correct charity discussing which of their colleagues they would fuck.
So I can say #me too – while remembering that this is an issue that truly unites women – trans-women who are subject to terrible violence, women in war zones where rape is a weapon, sex workers raped by their traffickers, low paid women who submit to abuse because they cannot lose their jobs.
Now the question is what do we do now – women are speaking up – it is time for men to question their own behaviour.