The sexual harassment scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein deepened on Tuesday when three women accused the Hollywood producer of rape in an article in the New Yorker, allegations he “unequivocally denied” through a spokeswoman.
The accusations come just days after nearly a dozen women recounted sexual harassment by Weinstein – producer of the Oscar-winning films Shakespeare in Love, The Artist and The English Patient, and patron to Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh – to the New York Times and other publications, causing the Weinstein production company to fire its once formidable co-founder.
Expect a lot of stories about how he was a maverick in publishing, an icon and lists of his achievements.
But most will ignore the negative side of his empire and his life.
Why do we do that when someone dies? If you asked me yesterday what I thought of him I would have simply said I thought he was a sexist misogynist who profited by exploiting women professionally and personally. Today I just make that statement past tense. Why should I have a different opinion today?
The same-sex marriage campaign makes me wonder when my fellow Australian lesbians lost their political backbone? Where’s the sparky radicalism of the gay and lesbian community? When did chasing after marriage become our life’s work? Or for that matter any feminists’ work?
The “yes” campaign casts rainbows and throws glitter over an institution that many women and children struggle to survive. It romanticises a pre-modern social arrangement that secures most men a wife and all the perks that come with husbandhood: sexual servicing, household labour and public esteem disguising all manner of wrongdoing.
Women see state sponsorship of sexual relationships as a safeguard of their interests in children and property held in common with men. But this guarantee is a mirage. The frequent experience of mothers losing custody of children to sexually abusive former husbands, for example, now sees Rosie Batty and Hetty Johnston campaigning for a royal commission into family violence.
Grapeshot Editor-in-Chief, Angus Dalton, said, “The article simply sought to give credit to our Women’s Collective for being at the forefront in advocating for policy change, and the efforts of my predecessor, Angela Heathcote, in investigating the mishandling of sexual harassment cases on campus.
“Apparently, this was too much for the university to bear.”
When asked for comment, a University spokesperson refused to answer why the article was blocked.
There is a movement afoot. People all across the globe are vocally and visibly opposing laws that for too long have kept women from justice. The notorious ‘marry your rapist’ laws are toppling, because of citizen activism, government action, UN Women coordination and global voices speaking out.
Despite some progress in the last few years, it is estimated that 90% of countries around the world still have at least one discriminatory law in their legal frameworks. This includes laws protecting perpetrators of rape from prosecution if they are married or if they marry the victim, like Amina. Laws banning female genital mutilation or child marriage that are not enforced. Laws that don’t protect survivors of violence who pursue court action.
Earlier this year, the Roadmap for Substantive Equality: 2030 (Roadmap) was launched. The Roadmap is a UN Women initiative which focuses on repealing or amending discriminatory laws, and supports the implementation of national laws to advance human rights and gender equality.
In the same way that female engineers and startup founders struggle to report harassment for fear of retaliation or lost funding, gig economy workers are in precarious positions when they are victimized, since they aren’t classified as employees.
Though sexual harassment is not a new problem, online platforms have enabled methods of abuse that were not possible before, in some cases helping turn people into abusers.
Franks, the law professor, said sites like Facebook and Twitter attracted “opportunistic harassers”, by rewarding impulsive behavior and making it easy for them to inflict serious damage on victims with just a few clicks.
The notion that platforms are not responsible or liable for the actions of their users, including criminal behavior, extends across Silicon Valley.
The news travelled around the world: the child refused an abortion by both a district court in Chandigarh and the Supreme Court of India, in both cases on the grounds that abortion was too risky at 28 weeks and then again at 32 weeks, was delivered by c-section last week and will be kept in hospital for some 10 days. Although the hospital was reported to say that the child and the 2.2kg premature infant were both “doing fine”, the facts are other: The girl was put through major surgery. She was told a large stone had to be removed from her stomach. How will she feel when she is old enough to know better? Her abusive uncle is in prison. Her parents are shattered from the discovery of the abuse, the publicity the story generated and two failed court cases in which the girl’s interests were the least important item on the agenda and the facts about the safety of abortion at 28 weeks of pregnancy were absent.
The statistics on the scale of sexual abuse of children in India speak for themselves. The BBC reports that according to UNICEF and Indian government data:
> A child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours
> More than 10,000 children were raped in 2015
> 240 million women living in India were married before they turned 18
In a centuries deep sea of clichés despairing that ‘prostitution will always be with us’, one country’s success stands out as a solitary beacon lighting the way. In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution. In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80%. There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution has all but disappeared.
In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex is nil. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that’s negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex trafficked into neighboring Finland. No other country, nor any other social experiment, has come anywhere near Sweden’s promising results.
Sweden’s Groundbreaking 1999 Legislation
In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminalizes the selling of sex. The novel rationale behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government’s literature on the law:
“In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”
In the state of Victoria, Australia, where a system of legalized, regulated brothels was established, there was such an explosion in the number of brothels that it immediately overwhelmed the system’s ability to regulate them, and just as quickly these brothels became a mire of organized crime, corruption, and related crimes. In addition, surveys of the prostitutes working under systems of legalization and regulation find that the prostitutes themselves continue to feel coerced, forced, and unsafe in the business.
It seems absurd that anyone would need to have the purpose of a women-only swimming session explained to them, but the world is full of obstinate, selfish people who refuse to think of anyone’s needs beyond their own. Indeed, there’s a popular online saying that goes a little something like this: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Such is the backlash against equality movements of all stripes now that complaints like the one made in Gloucestershire are becoming more common. It isn’t because the people making these complaints are experiencing oppression themselves – it’s because they perceive the granting of assistance to people less privileged than themselves to be an unfair advantage they’re being denied.
The opening of a cafe in Melbourne recently elicited a similar response. Handsome Her quickly gained notoriety for its display of a sign detailing an 18 per cent surcharge issued to male customers to cover the gender pay gap.
Equality is only of interest to these people when it’s about ensuring women aren’t being given the kind of special treatment men have accepted as a rule throughout most of history.