Feminism. #TimesUp. #MeToo. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the new women’s movement that’s swept into our lives lately – overwhelmed in a very GOOD way, I hasten to add.
Does anyone else feel like history is being made over and over again at the moment? Women’s marches in cities all over the world. Oprah at the Golden Globes. All female presenters at the SAG Awards. And of course the Weinstein effect which has resulted in the #TimesUp movement and #MeToo – this is all just the tip of what I think is an enormous iceberg. So much has happened lately and so much has been exposed lately that it IS almost overwhelming.
Before I go on, I just want to make it clear that this ISN’T a political statement. This is a post about feelings. I’m writing it from the point of view of feeling that something in our society is changing, that something has already monumentally changed. It’s a historic moment in time and I guess I’m having an emotional response to it.
This is my emotional response to it.[Main image by Penelope Barritt Photography, used with permission]
The power of women
So many young women of the world are experiencing this new wave of feminism for the first time. And while it seems that every day there is something new being reported that shocks us yet again, I personally have to see the positive side of it. My point of view with so many things in life is that things sometimes have to get worse before they can get better – they have to be at breaking point before it makes people realise that something has to change.
I didn’t hear it myself, but the actress (and director of the legal defence fund for Time’s Up) Amber Tamblyn was interviewed for the”Today” programme on BBC Radio 4 at the beginning of the year. What was suggested was that Time’s Up wouldn’t even be a thing if it weren’t for the Weinstein scandal; Tamblyn herself went on to say that without Trump in power they wouldn’t even be having the conversation in the first place.
It’s a scary thought to think that without Weinstein or Trump then 2017 wouldn’t have been the year that “sexual harassment became a fireable offense”, as written by USA Today.
It’s also scary to think that it’s taken till now for that to happen, nearly 50 years after Germain Greer published The Female Eunuch.
When looking at footage from and pictures of last Sunday’s marches (extra kudos to our gals in the pouring rain in London), it dawned on me that we’re in a new wave of feminism. Like the feminism of the 70s and the “burning bras” stories that I read about as a young girl, I feel that this time, right now, will go down in history. Social media is being hailed as the catalyst that started this “fourth wave” of feminism back in 2012. This time, as we know, it’s all about harassment, sexual assault and rape culture, whilst we’re STILL campaigning for equal pay.
There were so many different messages and opinions expressed on the placards on Sunday’s marches it was quite frightening how much injustice, bad behaviour and prejudice women are STILL suffering in the 21st century (I always love the placards that read “Same shit, different century”).
So much is happening right now. 2018 is not even 26 days old, but this year alone we’ve had Larry Nassar’s court case dealing with his abuse of the young girls in the US gymnastics team.
We’ve had the appointment – and subsequent resignation – to a university watchdog of Toby Young, a 50-something ex-journalist who’d tweeted so many vitriolic, sexist and bigoted statements he deleted about 8,500 of the 56,000 tweets from his Twitter account.
We’ve had the Financial Times expose the annual men-only charity fundraiser at the Dorchester where hostesses are told to wear revealing outfits and suffer being groped and propositioned. (It has since been cancelled indefinitely and apparently the charities returned the money raised.)
I think many Brits, like myself, are still reeling from the revelations about Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall and all the other British/UK based male celebrities abusing both their positions of power and the (many young) vulnerable people they had access to. The Jimmy Savile story broke in 2012 – a pivotal point in time and possibly the spark for Time’s Up, despite it being almost six years ago.
The good that has to come from the bad
But without someone like Trump, a world leader who was recorded talking about women and saying you should “grab them by the pussy”, would there have been as much incentive to march and protest against this sort of behaviour? Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not at all saying that in a thankful way whatsoever – but I do believe that without men as high-profile as the President of the United States or the most powerful producer in Hollywood being exposed in this way, we may not be in the position we’re in right now. And that’s a positive, we’re-not-putting-up-with-this-shit-anymore position.
Time’s very much up, in other words.
There HAS to be good to come out of all of this. Without the strong women (and men) who blew the whistle on these vile men and their behaviour then we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now. HOW can any person in any position of power possibly get away with abusive behaviour now? Surely the lid has been blown so wide open that, as Oprah so eloquently put, there should never again be a time when a woman says Me too:
“So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.”
I don’t see how this ever COULD conceivably happen again. The young women of today – those who are growing up in a post-Weinstein effect world – are hopefully all too aware of what is (and what isn’t) acceptable. The women’s marches have shown them that it is NOT okay to put up with any sort of bad behaviour from men, in a professional, public and, I hope, private situation.
As midlifers it’s our daughters – and THEIR daughters – who are now armed with the power and the foresight to never have to put up with abusive behaviour ever again. I just know that they’d blow the whistle on the guy in their office with wandering hands quicker than you could yell “sexual harassment in the workplace”, because women like Rose McGowan have paved the way for them to know what is unacceptable and to know what to do about it.
With the power that women now have, in what situation could any man now think he could possibly get away with it?
I’m under no illusion that in private it’ll be a very different story. There must be millions of women all over the world living in fear right now because of what goes on in the privacy of their own home. The Savile and the Weinstein abuse all went under the radar, unchallenged and unreported, for so long. We are forever in debt to the women who had the guts to report it. Let’s hope that this new wave of feminism and this era of speaking out and zero tolerance gives abused women everywhere the courage and the power to say, That’s it – time’s up.
The new day isn’t on the horizon, I think it’s already here. And I think deep down women everywhere – and MEN everywhere – truly know it.
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