I’m scared to love things.
In light of the recent focus on sexual harassment in Hollywood, I’ve discovered that the things I’ve been passionate about since I can remember, are also making me sick to my stomach.
One of my favourite things to do is watch all of the Oscar-nominated movies before the awards and predict what I think will win. After Manchester by the Sea, I knew that Casey Affleck would win the Oscar for it. I googled him afterwards and was shocked and dismayed to find that he was accused of abusing and behaving inappropriately towards women. He won the Oscar and I felt conflicted, I championed for him to win and then learned the horrible truth of who he is behind closed doors. Am I a part of the problem?
In August, Joss Whedon’s ex-wife published a letter stating that Joss is a “Hypocrite Preaching Feminist Ideals”. This came as a massive shock to me due to the fact he had previously been a hero of mine. This was the man who created Buffy, a character I idolised and aspired to (in the non-vampire hunter ways). He bought the Avengers to life and was renowned for his feminist stance, his insistence that strong female characters had a larger story to tell than being a counterpart to a man.
After hearing that he’s a bit of a prick and cheated on his wife a bunch of times, my stomach lurched and I felt not rage, but disappointment. Disappointment not only in Whedon but in myself for placing this dude on a pedestal to begin with. How ridiculous that a man was one of my feminist heroes. I wondered if I would be able to watch Buffy again with this new knowledge. I guess time will tell with that one…
The Harvey Weinstein bombshell hits, the jokes and slights about him finally became a reality and with it, an outpouring of similar horrible and disgusting stories and allegations.
A few weeks ago Kevin Spacey was accused of inappropriate and frankly disgusting behaviour, his apology included his coming out which was a poorly veiled excuse for condoning what was essentially paedophilia.
Andy Signore of Screen Junkies was fired in the wake of the allegations made against him, the story troubled me, I LOVE watching the content from Screen Junkies! It’s people like me talking about the things I love, passionately fighting for their favourite movies and opinions. To hear that one of the creators behind my favourite youtube channel also turned out to be a total creep is incredibly disturbing to me. The same feeling that gripped me after Affleck, after Whedon, again took a hold of me made me question all of the things I love.
The biggest disappointment so far is hearing that Jesse Lacey of Brand New groomed and asked for nudes from 15-year-old girls when he was 24. Jesse Lacey: my lord and saviour, as I would jokingly refer to him as, the man behind my favourite music since I was a teenager is also a creep.
All of these artists who I worshipped and devoured whatever they would give me are nothing but manipulative, perverted pricks who wield their power over devoted fans to satisfy their own desires. I can’t idolise these people anymore, I can’t listen to their music or read their books or watch their tv shows.
#metoo trended instantly and the size of the problem became so widespread that I wondered if there was a single woman in that industry who hadn’t been sexually harassed or abused. No, not just in “the industry” but in the world. My facebook/Instagram/Twitter feeds were flooded with this hashtag. This was not a problem that only famous people were facing, this is a problem that a girl I went to high school with, had endured. This is something a friend of a friend experienced. This indicated that once again the problem was not localised to film and TV world but just an average workplace, my hometown, my current city, basically everywhere, almost everyone.
Some women bravely came forward with their stories, most stated “while I haven’t endured the horrific ordeal of being raped, I have been taken advantaged of or sexually harassed-“
It saddens me to think that women had to foreshadow their story with “I wasn’t raped but-” before they could discuss their abuse. As though they felt they couldn’t discuss their problem because it “wasn’t as big a deal” as getting raped. Saying, “okay, so I wasn’t murdered but I was beaten up a bunch” is the same thing. Just because it wasn’t the “worst” of the things that could happen, people stayed silent.
I started thinking about my own experiences in life and wondered if I had dismissed something just because it wasn’t the worst of the worst. A horrible memory of an ex-housemate immediately appeared due to the fact that it’s burned into my memory.
It was my second to final night of living with him when I inadvertently walked in on him masturbating. I was busily packing and cleaning my side of the house up when I called out his name to ask if he wanted to keep some lamps. He responded by saying “yeah?” instead of “don’t come over here!” and when I walked towards his office (door wide open, lights on), he didn’t even look embarrassed. No attempt to conceal what he was doing.
I walked away, completely embarrassed. But now that I reflect on it, my reaction should have 100% been to call him out. Sure, masturbate whenever you want buddy! But maybe shut the fucking door and don’t invite me in? Did you think this was porn coming to life and I would wink and ask if you needed a hand?
However, even as I read that back, I know I would never have been brave enough to actually call him out on his crappy behaviour. But again, I feel like part of the problem for not speaking up, for not calling out crap behaviour, for not saying “Hey! Please don’t wave your penis at me!”
I’m scared to love things that are connected to an industry that is and has been so toxic for a long time. I’m disappointed in myself for idolising people who turned out to be scumbags. I don’t know how I can personally be a part of the change. I guess I can start by asking people to not masturbate in front of me… but I would really prefer if men figured out that maybe they shouldn’t masturbate in front of women.