Everybody is on their own, unique journey, and if social media is any indicator, a lot of those paths have no relevance to anybody else. I can sympathise and agree with another person (for instance) suffering from a mental illness, but never truly understand how that feels. However, until that person grasps a) they have a problem and b) attempts to deal with it… it is a different, separate ‘situation’ to my own. Looking at this overweight, powerful man who has for decades systematically intimidated and overwhelmed so many powerful, attractive women I am at a genuine loss for understanding. The only way I have found thus far to rationalise the entire sorry situation?
For decades, one man ran football his way because he never allowed anybody else to be more powerful than he was. From the outside, everybody knew the entire organisation was as bent as a nine bob note, but no-one was allowed to wield enough power as opposition. Only when doping in Athletics and systematic corruption across other forms of sport came to light did people go ‘ooh, hang on, we might have a chance of ousting him here.’ Of course, one could also argue that allowing (potentially) a different group of corrupt-power hungry blokes a bite at the cherry is no further forward down a path to enlightenment, but the jury is still out on how this story ends.
I think America just woke up to the same realisation that football did, and the UK has with leading public figures from entertainment and politics molesting the vulnerable. Somewhere, in the last decade, this kind of behaviour is finally becoming socially unacceptable. Amazingly, one could argue that it is thanks to the behaviour and attitude of the current president of the United States, which so clearly angered so many women (not just in the US but worldwide) with its crassness and lack of respect for their sex, that Mr Weinstein is about to become the first of many offerings from the Entertainment industry. Is it possible that a public display of what is so reviled was the incident that empowered so many to finally able to stand as a group and be taken seriously?
This story of abuse of women in the public eye is not new. What has changed is the willingness of people to talk about their own experiences: social media can probably take part of the plaudits for an increased climate of openness. However, what isn’t changing is the attitude of a group of people who could alter everything pretty much overnight, if they stopped simply thinking about themselves first. I think this came home to me this morning when I read this quote from a Guardian article and literally rocked back in my chair.
There are those people who decide that because it doesn’t bother them, there’s not a problem. As long as they make their money, then there is no need to rock the boat. This isn’t just male actors either, despite the great political message that this sends. It is anybody who genuinely believes that allowing others to manipulate and control is acceptable in modern society, especially using fame as a stick to beat people with. There’s no excuse now, and even though I have trouble grasping the timelines at play and how people are reacting, it really doesn’t matter. I’m not part of this, simply a spectator. My own story of abuse cannot be either compared or held up as justification.
Victim blaming helps nobody in the end.
All of this thought grew from this statement, and the conversation I had with a friend as a result. Just because I cannot understand how the Weinstein situation ever happened does not give me the right to stand on a soapbox and decry how other people live their lives. For the second time in a month I’ve learnt the lesson that fear is what drives so much of life, and if you have beaten it telling others they can do the same only works if they are prepared to listen. For far too many people, this is just not possible, and what society needs to do as a result is not tell people to just live with their shortcomings, but to try and help them grasp why they happen. Once the why is clear, a path is a lot easier to both find and follow.
It is time to listen and not to judge.