I recently sat with some friends in a restaurant and heard, blow by blow, an extended account from one woman about how she had to deal with the unwanted sexual attention of a man at the top of my industry whose work I admire. She spoke about power structures, about her fear of speaking out about it, about people’s reactions to her before, during and after she did. About unexpected support and unexpected attacks. She spoke compassionately despite my sense that she was shaken and discomfited. I listened with anger, respect and care, but also a deep frustration. In my industry so in every industry. Women being marginalised, sexualised, patronised. Just because something is endemic doesn’t mean we have to put up with it.
Right now, the notional leader of the western world is a man that once said “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” The women’s march in LA was a huge, joyful event. But he’s still sitting pretty, his misogynist white supremacist poison is trickling down, as it always does. Justifying behaviours and opinions that used to be the province of guilty shuffling hard-ons in darkened rooms.
Meanwhile Harvey Weinstein checks himself into a clinic for sex addiction, hoping that the visible protestation ”I have a condition” will somehow forgive the fact he only started caring when he was called out on it. And people are blaming the victims already, overlooking how much of this is to do with power.
“Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We should consider the reasons why people seek power. Often narcissism and entitlement, often rage, often a deep hunger to fill an inner void. You don’t get many Gandhis or Mandelas. And as often as not they are created by circumstance outside their capacity to drive, not their own hunger for control. I’ve often wished there was a way to put power in the hands of those that don’t want it. “When you’re a star… you can do anything.” No Don. No you can’t. You have a responsibility. You could do so much good for the unhappy masses that idolise you. But you don’t even have the width to perceive that. You’re too blinded by your own shit towards yourself. Across the world in the rooms at the top of the tall buildings squats an army of scared little boys with hard cocks. “I worked hard to get here.” Yes, you did work hard. But not on yourself. And no harder than a lot of the people that didn’t get there. And now, more than ever, you have a responsibility not to be a dick. People without power, it’s easier to kick ’em in the dick when they letch on you…
“Me too”. I’m reading it so much today. It’s upsetting. Unwanted sexual advances as normality. I’ve done it. I’ve been so drunk I’ve been unable to see past my own needs, leering on some unfortunate who is wondering what they’ve done to encourage me. I’m not proud of it. I certainly don’t think it’s my right to do it. Not now and not if I was powerful. But if I think about it, I’ve contributed to the problem.
I’m glad people are starting to be called out. I’d like to think people will stop and think a bit. But this morning I was moving furniture for Daisy Lowe. I think she’s a model – she’s on Strictly. She’s having a 1920’s party. Friends suggested I should get myself an invite. Maybe we’ll fall in love. “Maybe she’s single?” As if single Daisy Lowe might be hankering for Al Barclay. Okay I’m a reasonable human. But how does our thought process go so quickly to making these links? No wonder Harvey thinks it’s okay if all I have to do is carry someone’s chaiselongue to be considered a romantic prospect. Harvey’s gonna make you a star and all he wants is a naked massage and fuck knows what else in his hotel room. Al’s gonna carry your bench. Gotta be worth a snog, right? Fuck off.
Transactional desire. The idiot belief that if I have feelings they must be reciprocated. Basic human needs mixed with lack of awareness of others. Penisblindness. Come on men! This fucking society, where there’s a whole industry churning out videos of cockworship that has led some men to think that sending a picture of your todger to someone you barely know is legitimate seduction. If you send me a photo of your teeth it really won’t make me want you to bite me.
So many friends are stating that they’ve experienced sexual harassment in one form or another. Many of them are saying that even writing those words “me too” was hard for them. And then details – fear, unwarranted shame, anger, powerlessness. Come on humans. Share joy, share pleasure, share space. Listen and watch. Have enough self knowledge and care for others to notice when someone doesn’t want what you want… God. It’s simple in theory. But for every “Me too” there’s a “You as well?”