On Monday 8th of January, Oprah Winfrey was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary award bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. The moment was historical and her acceptance speech will go down in history. It was powerful, it was moving and it was so bloody wonderful because of everything it represented.
Beautiful, rich and unspoken words that were finally spoken because Oprah is everything we need in this world right now. Little wonder that people are losing their collective shit over the possibility of her running for Presidency.
The 2018 Golden Globes celebrated the movement that is the Times Up Campaign. With most dressed in black as a message to all that time is up. Sexual harassment and abuse will not and should not be tolerated. Hollywood might be a world away from our reality but the message is not. The stories that have been shared in the last few months have resonated worldwide because they transcend beyond Hollywood.
I am not sure if it is a coincidence or an irony that on the day we were listening to Oprah tell us “I want all the girls watching now to know, that a new day is on the horizon” it was closer to home that news broke of a high profile, local Aussie entertainer had been accused of sexual harassment and abuse.
I have faffed about for the last 24 hours trying to work out whether to write about this. There is a deluge of stories already in the media and our news feeds are suffocating under the weight of opinion and judgement.
But it’s a conversation we have to keep having.
Having the conversation, letting things get personal, it is how we make things better.
The power of these men (and this might be considered a generalisation but at the moment we are talking about the actions of men) have created and fed a culture that has allowed them to be immune from all that is right. Is it narcissism or entitlement or do they simply have so little respect for women that makes them think that what they do is okay?
Please don’t tell me it is because they have some kind of addiction and they need rehab.
I have a story but I am not at all a victim. I am reminded again of this particular moment and the beauty of the #metoo and #timesup campaign is that if this story was to repeat itself tomorrow, next week or next year then what I would do now is so different to what I did then.
When MM and I started our Recruitment business in 2004 we operated from a home office and we had no clients. It was a start up in the true sense. We worked hard to establish relationships and this meant networking and sourcing referrals. Within the first three months I was provided with a referral to meet with a potential client in the transport industry. He had two positions that needed filling and he was happy to use our services and subsequently pay the fees associated. The two positions would have been worth close to $15,000 in placement fees for us. You can appreciate that as a start up business this would have been helpful. I met with the client at his office and my first clue that the situation could be questionable was the type of calendar he had on his office wall. I proceeded to work through the brief with him but there were two very clear and offensive statements that he made to me about the “type and look” of the person he wanted to hire that made it evident that we would not be working with this client.
Seriously, do men like this have daughters?
I have distinct memories of this client meeting and the feeling of being so profoundly disillusioned by it. That we didn’t proceed with the client was an easy decision but my one regret is that I didn’t call him out on his behaviour. Days later I sent some vague email stating that I wasn’t able to assist him any further. But no more. If I will take away one thing from what Oprah said and importantly what all of the women who have been shamed and victimised have said is that I will call bullshit on this behaviour.
I owe them that.
Some of the comments I have seen this week have been victim shaming the women who did come forward. Why didn’t they come forward earlier? These comments shit me on so many levels because they are ignorant, naive and unhelpful. It is a brave person who speaks up and it is understandable why many don’t and their reasons; fear or shame, are understandable. The women who have spoken up this week have been on national television speaking about some pretty humiliating events – professionally or financially, there is nothing for them to gain. I read somewhere that someone said that one of them was doing it for “fame.” Except she is already a famous actress you dickhead.
This week there has also been a wave of commentary around the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing. Of course this is true but in the specific case that has been reported this week, we aren’t talking about tabloid journalism and some claim that hasn’t been explored, this is about investigative journalism that has been a work in progress for months with water tight claims made. This isn’t about random, public shaming via a social media campaign. If an abuser doesn’t want to be shamed via any form of media then perhaps they should think about that before they think it’s okay to touch a women’s vagina without consent.
Society needs to stand up to itself and say enough is enough. Time is up. We need to raise children who know how to treat one other with kindness and respect. We need to allow victims to speak up without fear, we need to listen without judgement and we need to help out and act.
As Oprah said “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”