This week, women around the world used the hashtag #metoo to talk openly about their experiences of sexual harassment following the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein
I host a topical comedy show on BBC Radio 4 Extra called Newsjack. I open the show with a monologue about the week’s news. This week, in my monologue, I talked about Harvey Weinstein and #metoo. i wanted to because I was angry, and am lucky enough to have a platform to say what I want, not a big one, but a bigger one than many.
Now, obviously because of editing and time restrictions in the show, not everything I wrote could go in. I usually write a 7 page monologue. This week it was 13 pages! So I thought I would post that bit of my script here, in case anyone heard the edited version and fancied hearing the full thing. And also to clarify some of the points that might be raised from the edited version:
So this is the full version that I recorded pre-edit.
“Over the past couple of weeks, allegations of sexual harassment and assault continue to be made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein released a response to the allegations, in which he said he was seeking therapy to address his issues.
A line that famous people tend to wheel out when they are in trouble; one always suspects they seek self preservation rather than self improvement. If a film star gets caught drunk driving they’ve told the world they are in rehab before their hangover kicks in.
Many female stars have since come forward with an alarming number of their own stories regarding Weinstein’s behaviour.
The response from men in Hollywood has ranged from shocked and supportive to “wait a minute, what did you just say Ben Affleck?”
Far too many of these responses have used a variation of the phrase “As a father of daughters”
NO NO NO
Your status as a father of a daughter should be irrelevant. Surely you have mothers, sisters, partners and female friends? Do you not care about them?
I’ve started pre-fixing my arguments with similar pointless statements. “Why have I blocked your car in? Well, speaking as a Sagittarian…”
If being a father to a daughter made you treat women better, how the hell do you explain, Henry VIII?
But for the record, I find the whole concept of parenthood making you somehow more compassionate infuriating. Compassion doesn’t just belong to parents and nobody else. It doesn’t arrive in amniotic fluid.
Some compassionate people have children. Some don’t. Some not very compassionate people have children, some don’t. Piers Morgan has children.
End of argument
People are also asking why these women didn’t speak out sooner. Really?
Speaking out against people in power is frightening. Especially if the people in power are you route to complaint. It’s a lot to do with self preservation. If you are a prisoner in Shawshank, you are unlikely to be too honest about what you write on the prisoner feedback and complaints forms
Also, as we’ve learned, the problem is ubiquitous. It’s ingrained in the experience of being a woman. We grew up surrounded by euphemistic terms for sexual harassment. I hate the term casting couch. Such an innocuous term for such a violent abuse of power. You wouldn’t call the electric chair ‘the buzzy sofa’. Casting couch makes it sound harmless, almost fun, like water boarding
We have grown up with this acceptance of sexual harassment as part of our lives. How many times have we heard things like “he’s a nice guy, just don’t be alone in a room with him”, or “he doesn’t mean anything by it, he’s just a bit handsy”, and we don’t even bat an eyelid. I can’t count the number of times that, when I was a single woman, only managed to stop a man making unwanted advances by saying “sorry, I’ve got a boyfriend or “sorry, my husband will be here soon”. I said sorry, to a man who has less concern for what I want and whether I feel safe, than for the potential disrespect of a man that doesn’t even bloody exist
Then on Monday, something happened. We had enough.
Using the hashtag #metoo, woman across the world began to talk about the many situations they have found themselves in. Catcalling,sexual harassment, receiving lewd pictures and messages, groping, sexual assault and rape.
Now, I am a woman who hosts a topical comedy show. I feel I have to talk about this. But I am angry.. Some things are easier to do when you’re angry, like the washing up or masturbating.
But being funny when you are angry, that’s hard. I mean, I’m assuming that’s also James Corden’s excuse.
An article I read said that that “people were shocked at the scale” – at first that seemed unremarkable, then I thought “hang on”, but we aren’t shocked. What they mean is “men, MEN were shocked at the scale”. And therein lies what’s at the heart of the problem. “People” can be casually used to mean men. Just men.
Women ARE people. Sure, first thing in the morning without my makeup on, you might question that, but I assure you we are people. And if you want to get sciency about it – women are quantitatively more people than men are.
To help understanding let me tell you what the metoo hashtag was NOT about.
It was not about suggesting that all men are perpetrators.
So when we tell you our experience as women, you don’t need to shout “not all men” or “it wasn’t me”.
You’re not Shaggy, you’re a knobhead
Nobody is suggesting it is your fault that other men behave this way – but this isn’t about what you are NOT doing, it is about what they ARE doing.
We are just asking you to listen and to accept our experiences and to try to understand.
We have no way of knowing which of you might hurt us, so please excuse us if we’re a little cautious. If you shout at us in the street, you might not mean any harm, but we have no way of knowing you’re not the one who is going to follow us home.
When you meet a scary dog in the park. The owner might tell you “it’s ok Tyson wouldn’t hurt a fly.” But you’re still apprehensive because everybody has been bitten before.
Maybe he wouldn’t hurt a fly’ but he’s still a Rottweiler. He still has the teeth and the ability to bite.
My relationships with men are a lot like my relationships with dogs. They can be lots of fun and I enjoy sending them to fetch things, but I’m still wary because quite a lot of them are bloody dangerous.
We are not suggesting this is fair on the good guys.
Look, Edward scissorhands was a good guy, right. But if I met him in the street, and I hadn’t seen the film, I would be wary. I mean he’s a man who literally has scissors for hands.
And underneath him is Johnny Depp. Even worse.
All we are asking is that you understand that.
And with regards to those who still want to willfully misunderstand and shout “hashtag not all men”, in my experience, the kid who cries “It wasn’t me” the loudest is often the one stood next to the scribbles on the wall with crayon under their fingernails. In the song Shaggy DID do it. It WAS him.
Another thing hashtag metoo is NOT suggesting is that men don’t suffer harassment or abuse. Of course they do. It is horrific. And those men need as much love and support and as much of a voice as any woman. Nobody is suggesting that isn’t the case.
#Metoo is about how some degree of sexual harassment has happened to pretty much EVERY woman. The news isn’t that women get assaulted and men don’t. That is patently not true. The news is the scale in which women get assaulted. That it IS systemic.
It’s compartmentalising different issues. If you see a campaign about how the rhinos are dying out, you don’t need to shout, it’s tough for penguins too Angela. It’s an equally important but different campaign.
This kind of inequality is taught from a young age. I mean it’s not in the syllabus. But socially, it’s ingrained. Girls are always told they’re “sweet” or “lovely” rather than “clever” or “brave”. I’ve started turning the tables now. If I’m in a meeting with a man, I like to tell him his ideas are “pretty”.
Finally, let’s be clear, hashtag metoo is NOT telling men they are not allowed to flirt with women.
Woody Allen said he hoped that this wouldn’t lead to a witch hunt and any guy ‘winking at a woman in the office would have to call a lawyer to protect himself.
If it were, Columbo would be shitting himself.
And I really don’t want Woody Allen to be the guy who gets to decide what sexual harassment is any more than I want Gary Barlow to do my tax return.
Look, I get it, flirting can be difficult, I mean I am terrible at it. My friend once told me watching me flirt was like watching me put down a heckler. Apparently I either go in too soft or too hard. Apparently it’s not flirting if you start with “I’m sorry” and end with “fuck you”
But the point is, whoever you’re flirting with, it is a 2 way conversation.
Initiating flirting can be a risk, sure. You don’t know if that person will reciprocate. But here’s the key. If they don’t you just stop. Otherwise you are harassing them. It’s really simple. If you jumped out of a plane and the parachute didn’t open, would you try it again with the same parachute?”