Why Harvey Weinstein is another example of a deeply unequal and sexist society
Elizabeth Kesses est une auteure britannique. Nous publions ici une tribune en anglais qu’elle a écrite suite à l’affaire Harvey Weinstein.
Over a hundred years ago, women battled to be freed from slavery, they fought to get the vote and then for the right to manage their own fertility.
Real progress was made. This century should have heralded new rights such as equal pay and end of sexual harassment. Yet a few weeks in, it became blatantly clear we have reverted to the Dark Ages. Already the gross remarks of Donald Trump hinted at an undercurrent of an endemic sexism, but they were so ridiculous, that nobody perhaps thought they were commonplace.
Over the last few days, with the outpourings of ‘me too’ and equivalents such as #balancetonporc in France, we are no further closer to equality than we were fifty years ago. The fact that ‘pestering’ in different forms has been experienced by every woman means we are still treated as objects, things, inferior species.
And it’s not just the odd incident. It’s all day long.
From the wolf-whistle in the street, the lingering stare of the passer-by, the unnecessary shoving in the tube, to the downright blatant overtures made at a drunken work party.
We all have our stories, and it is liberating to voice them, but they need to lead to change, because they are deeply unfair and deeply disturbing.
No man would ever worry if they were in a lift with a female boss, or if they were in a cab with an overly chatty female driver. No man would be happy with being paid less than his female counterpart, or being ignored in a meeting by two other women. No man would like it if they were judged by their crotch size in public.
All of this has weakened womens’ confidence, shattered their self-belief and lowered their expectations for life, work, relationships. It might sound dramatic, but the Harvey story was covered up because there was no point challenging it. He was the big boss and he called the shots, otherwise as an actress you would never work again.
Similarly when your boss corners an employee in the office and tries it on, most of us wouldn’t dare speaking out, in case we lost our job. Or the one who asks if we want children in an interview. Or if we could wear heels to a client meeting. We swallow the injustice, in the same way women a hundred years ago were told they weren’t able to vote. Yet the Suffragettes battled, they gave up their lives. We gave up our fighting spirit, not because we have become weak, or gutless, but because of the overpowering swathe of male dominance in the world. Let’s face it, not even a brilliant woman can make it as President of the USA – so what hope do the rest of us have ?
But Harvey, unbeknownst to him, has given us our power back.
He has opened the Pandora’s box of offences and grievances that are now circulating the Web. No means no, it should actually mean never. His denouncement has forced every woman to question the men in their life and their behaviours, and to call out those that are undermining them.
Because let’s face it : women are still judged on their appearance first and foremost. Trump frequently talks about women’s attributes, eg that they are fit. Jennifer Lawrence was asked to pose nude at a casting and told she was too fat to act. Others refused to play Harvey’s games and were blocked from the film industry.
It’s no wonder that we have become so obsessed with physical perfection, selfies, youth enhancements because we are still judged entirely by our looks and bodies.
To all those cavemen out there, to Harvey, stop thinking with your trousers, and start actually using your brain. If you treat women equally, work will be more productive, life will flow more smoothly, relationships will be more harmonious. And most of all your children, your daughters, will see a just world where they are entitled to be a scientist or a chef. Pretty, beautiful and sexy are the most frequent descriptors for the ‘fairer’ sex ; let’s change them to smart, strong and funny.
Of course this isn’t the case for all men, many are wonderfully empowering. But not everyone is lucky enough to have an enlightened brother, husband or father. It shouldn’t be about luck, it is every woman’s right, it is their birthright even and it should be enshrined in every society across the world.
Vous pouvez suivre Elizabeth Kesses sur Twitter.
Image à la une : Harvey Weinstein (AFP)