Why the Harvey Weinstein allegations have lessons for both female and male students.
Thankfully, a mass of women has bravely come forward to open up about their experiences with the Oscar-nominated Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Among them are Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who all reported sexually inappropriate and abusive behaviour towards themselves and other women that spanned years.
But the devastating thing about this situation, aside from the actions of Mr Weinstein himself, is the mass of women who felt too ashamed and scared to talk about his inappropriate and threatening behaviour. This fear has to end, and as a society, we must ensure that people feel comfortable enough to speak out when they go through something like this.
For many of us, Uni can be a massive step in our sexuality. We're mixing with a new group of people, discovering ourselves, and there's a lot that revolves around sex. We're meeting with people who are different ages to us for the first time (students, lecturers, employers) and exploring this entirely new world of responsibility and interaction. It's exciting, but it opens up new dangers.
We should be allowed to go on these adventures, like casual sex, meeting new people, getting pissed, earning a degree, and getting a job we deserve, without ever feeling pressured or uncomfortable. I hope that you never find yourself in a situation that makes you feel like this, but I also hope that if you ever do, you find the strength within yourself to speak out and know that you will be heard.
But in a generation where a man who said you could "Grab [women] by the pussy", and "do what you want with them", has been elected to lead the United States, we ain't looking too good. That's why it's so important to hold the Weinstein situation to the light and make sure that everyone is learning something from it. Men and women.
For women, it's the continuous battle to express that it's not their fault if something like this happens. There is no shame or blame, and it doesn't matter if you were too drunk, or didn't push them off straight away. No means no, and your sexuality should never be objectified or exploited.
Men, on the other hand, cannot feel they have the ability to use power as a tool for acting without consent. Harvey Weinstein used his position to subdue the career-conscious people of Hollywood into silence. But that doesn't mean that men can believe it's OK to grab women by the pussy and do what you want with them should you have sufficient scare tactics. Plus, anyone feeling encouraged to build a similar foundation of behaviour in their work-life should consider the career-ending demise of Hollywood's biggest producer in the space of a week. As the media proverb goes, "Be careful how you treat people on the way up, you'll see them on the way down."
Even in everyday life, I often ask myself why men in nightclubs feel they have the right to pinch my bum or continue to dance on me when I've already told them not to. Recently, my friends and I were in a nightclub, and after repeatedly asking a man to leave us in peace, we requested to the bouncer that he be removed. He was.
Friends of mine have been in situations with persistent women too. I was out at a gay club with friends where a woman spoke to me in a completely inappropriate way. She wouldn't leave me alone, and I ended up asking for her to be removed.
We're all wired different ways, but I will never understand how pursuing someone who has repeatedly shown discomfort at your presence will encourage someone to keep trying. Even from their side, why would you want to be this person? Why would you want to be the person that people awkwardly move away from or ask a bouncer to remove? The person that after a night out people say is "such a creep".
The sexiest people we know are always the ones who seem hard to get. The people who don't "creep" on others or make anyone feel uncomfortable. They are the ones who are a joy to be around, are respectful, considerate and never forceful.
Don't be a Harvey Weinstein. And don't let a Harvey Weinstein ever make you feel like you're powerless or to blame.
We must keep this conversation going. Please comment below with any thoughts you have - I would love to hear them.
#tyro #norm #consent #pull
Harvey Weinstein. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock