Revelations of Harvey Weinstein bring revelations of more harassment and assault

Woman holding hand up to stop attacker
Image: iStock

CW: sexual harassment, assault

The revelations about Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein has emboldened a number of women into opening up about their own experiences of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and other violence.

Social media has also been flooded with stories of sexual harassment and assault. The hashtag #MeToo on both Facebook and Twitter saw many men and women tell their own stories of harassment, abuse and rape. It’s also been used to shine a light about the need for consent:

 

It’s good that people are feeling strong enough to tell of their own stories. It’s also scary how prevalent sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape is. It’s horrible! How can this be so widespread? How has it ever been so widespread?

 

When I first wrote about the Weinstein scandal, I wondered how there wasn’t better protection and how abuse of power became so prevalent in the entertainment industry. Could the same be said for society in general? What can be done to combat this plague?

The actual purpose of this post was to give a shout out to women and men who found the courage to speak out about their own experiences of abuse and harassment. I can only imagine how hard that must be. I hope you get the support you need, if you haven’t already. To the rest of us, I think it is imperative to believe victims who speak out. We also need to demand that victims of sexual assault, rape and harassment get justice.

 

Exposing harassers and abusers is an important step. Changing attitudes about gender, sexuality and, most importantly in this context, power, is more important. Both men and women need to say enough is enough.

Everyone look up at link of the tweet I embedded earlier in this post. No means no! If someone doesn’t or can’t give consent, then, it’s a no! Don’t touch, don’t argue, don’t manipulate, nothing. If there is a power imbalance, then it’s a no! Don’t bribe, hassle, manipulate or threaten ANYONE into giving what sexual ‘favours’ you think you deserve but don’t! NO ONE owes you ANYTHING!

"Stop sexual harassment' sign
Image: iStock

A note to those who’ve experienced assault, harassment or rape: my heart bleeds for you. I want to give you a big hug. My prayer is that you find support, comfort and eventual healing. Nothing will be able to reverse what has happened. I hope you get some kind of peace of mind knowing that you DID NOT deserve what you experienced. It was in NO WAY your fault.

I want to also give a shout out to male survivors of sexual assault, rape or harassment. NONE OF IT was your fault. It doesn’t make you any less of a man. If anything happened to you that you didn’t or couldn’t have given consent to (i.e. you were under the age of consent or someone in power assaulted you), it is the perpetrators fault, not yours.

 

If anyone needs general counselling, you can call Lifeline: 13 11 14

NSW Rape Crisis: 1800 424 017. For more information from the website, click here.

For readers who are from overseas, please feel free to drop any contact details of any counselling or sexual assault/ harassment services that you know in your state/ country. 

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Sologamy: Fad? Good idea or selfishness?

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There is a bit of a trend of people; men and women,’marrying’ themselves. (Image: iStock)

Emmajane Love, 33, got married… to herself.

It happened last year on the Gold Coast, with friends and family from different parts of the world attending the ceremony.

It’s not legal here, and in the US state of Arizona where she currently is. So, it’s symbolic.

It may seem strange and it worries some experts. Some regard the concept as “the saddest trend you’ve ever seen”.

While many say it’s narcissistic, I can actually see the logic behind it.

Love told David Koch and Samantha Armytage on Seven’s Sunrise that sologamy was the chance to declare a love to the self. According to Love, this came about in the aftermath of toxic and abusive relationships. For this reason, I’m sympathetic to the idea.

 

More than anything, I think the ‘sologamy’ movement brings up conversations that society needs to have.

One is self – esteem and self – worth. Even now, I think these two things are (mistakenly) linked to marriage and significant romantic and sexual relationships.  The link between lack of marriage and loneliness is still emphasised, even though it’s not always the case.

Too often, women (and men) can feel inadequate or broken for not having a ‘significant other’. While marriage and long – term relationships are the norm, marriage is not something that people should be pressured into. People’s self – worth should not be tied up in finding “the one”.

On a second, and more sobering note, I think we need to talk about those who need healing from toxic or abusive relationships. Domestic violence is way too prevalent worldwide, with the World Health Organisation stating that around one in three (35%) of women are victims of sexual and/ or physical violence at the hands of a partner, spouse or non – partner in their lifetime. Data from the 2012 ABS Personal Safety Survey said that 1 in 22 men have experienced sexual violence since the age of fifteen. Survivors of abuse need to be given permission and tools to heal from such trauma. If a “sologamous” wedding provides that, then good luck to them.

 

On the other hand, as I researched for this blog, I have noticed that some women have had’sologamous’ weddings to prevent nagging about finding a partner and getting married from friends and family. This should not be necessary. Some adults are single; happily single, single, but want a relationship and those who may have given up on finding love. I strongly believe that the stigma towards these people, especially those in their 30’s needs to stop. Some people won’t get married. Ever. Or get married again. These people should be left to be. If they want to find someone, then let them look. BUT for those who aren’t on the look out, they should NOT be made to feel broken or lesser than anyone else.

 

Will sologamy be a dying craze or keep growing? We’ll have to wait and see. It certainly brings up a lot of interesting things that should be talked about: healing from toxic or abusive relationships, how society views single people, particularly women over thirty and the ability to love yourself unconditionally.

What do you think about sologamy? 

 

We will rise: Episode of Gaycation offers LGBTQ+ people hope

Screen shot of image of Gaycation: United We Stand
Despite fear about the win of Trump last year, the LGBTQ+ people and their allies’ unity was touching and something Australian LGBTQ+ people can take strength from.

I won’t lie, the last few months haven’t been easy for many in the Australian LGBTQ+ community. That includes me. I’ve been quite strong and have offered my own support to LGBTQ+ family and friends but on and off for the past couple of weeks, it’s finally got me. Old insecurities and worries about how others viewed me came back. And I’m not even in a same – sex relationship. I feel for those who are.

On Wednesday, I saw the end of a repeat of Gaycation: United We stand  on SBS Viceland. It was about the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win. Many people were worried about the President’s Cabinet and their links with organisations and political parties that had been opposed to LGBTQ+ rights, including Vice President, Mike Pence, who was responsible for the Religion Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, which permitted businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the grounds of personal belief. (Apparently, he did backpedal in legalising discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, despite anger from conservatives). There was also worry about the rights of trans people and their ability to access medical care.

While the backdrop of the documentary was quite grim, the end of the documentary was surprisingly uplifting. It gave me hope for Australia in the postal vote process. I took strength from the fact that the LGBTQ+ community and allies were determined to stand together and not allow things to backslide to where they’d been in the past. They were not going to let those with homophobic or trans – phobic views win. Caucasian and people of colour were willing to stand together. They seemed to believe in the cause and their right to, not just exist, but live freely, love and express their gender that they saw fit.

It was heartening to see parents of LGBTQ+ people, including co – host Ian Daniel’s father, who were willing to stand by their children and fight for them. I truly think that these people don’t get enough credit. They are such a great source of love and strength. You have seen the same thing with the postal vote process. I’ve been heartened at the number of straight people; including parents and grandparents, who are willing to have their LGBTQ+ children’s and grandchildren’s back.  If you are a parent, friend, family member, educator, who’s been a shoulder for LGBTQ+ family or friends to cry on, on behalf of members of the LGBTQ+ community, can I just say, thank you. You’re love, support and contribution in our lives will never be forgotten. To LGBTQ+ people, please, give these people in your lives a massive hug! They deserve it.

Can I please implore Australian LGBTQ+ people to take heart. It will be OK. If we can stick together, we can get through this and more (if the US is anything to go by, this won’t be the last fight).

If we keep going, we will win this. We will gain the right to love, to be safe and express our gender authentically. To quote Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy: We Will Rise. To quote them again: “United we stand!”

International Day of the Girl Child: how far have girls’ and women’s rights come?

Young woman shopping
Image: iStock

 

Yesterday was the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child. On Paul Murray Live last night, they were talking about women and girls’ rights, including here in Australia.

There is no doubt that women’s and girls’ rights and attitudes toward them have changed in the past forty years in the West. Some may argue that in some areas, such as education, the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Education experts have suggested that the education is nurturing for girls, yet failing boys. Attempts to reengage boys into education through non – traditional mean, while not wide – spread, seemed to have a positive impact.

By law, in New South Wales, women can’t be discriminated against on the basis of their gender, marital status, pregnancy or sexuality (there are exemptions for areas such as marital status and sexuality. Single – sex institutions/ clubs also are protected with exemptions).

There has been a push to make workplaces more ‘family friendly’ with many employers trying to accommodate for new mothers. Some companies, such as retail giant, Myer, offer female employees paid parental leave. The government also offers mothers eighteen weeks’ paid parental leave at A$695.00 a week.

Another area where women in Australia benefit is health awareness, with campaigns that are endorsed by celebrities making a commitment to raising awareness for breast cancer and putting it at the forefront of people’s minds. Movember aims to raise awareness at men’s health, particularly prostate cancer and mental health every November. While it’s a start, more can always be done.

Domestic violence has become another hot issue. In recent years, the Australian court system has come under heavy scrutiny over how domestic violence perpetrators, including murderers (yes, that’s what they are when they kill someone. I don’t buy the “guilty plea makes it manslaughter crap), are given way too lenient sentences.

More recently, the public has become aware of “child brides” (a.k.a. rape victims). These girls who are often barely teenagers, are often ‘married off’, (i.e. raped), to men decades older than them. These ‘marriages’ (a.k.a condoned child abuse), have been solemnised by religious leaders. Unfortunately, when taken to court, perpetrators have been given insanely low sentences.

 

Aboriginal women are particularly vulnerable to domestic  violence. with statistics indicating that Aboriginal women are thirty – five times more likely to be hospitalised because of family violence than the general population. Until recently, this is another issue that people have been keeping their heads in the sand about. Fortunately, more people are speaking up. Last year, former National President of the Labor Party and Chairman of Government Advisory Council for Aboriginal Affairs, Warren Mundine wrote an article in the Australian, condemning the epidemic of violence in Aboriginal communities, the actions (or inaction) of prominent Aboriginal leaders and the demonising of people who dared speak out.

 

Girls and women around the world

Obviously, Australia is, by and large, much better off than many other countries around the world when it comes to the rights of women and girls. Last month, I wrote that even though women were able to drive in Saudi Arabia,  no long – lasting change would happen unless attitudes changed.

 

According to UNESCO, around the world, there is 31 million primary school – aged girls that don’t go to school. 34 million adolescent aged girls don’t attend high school. Women make the majority (two – thirds) of people who are illiterate world wide. This means more than 60 million girls and teenagers are at risk of early marriage and pregnancy (which, for many can be fatal for both the baby and the mother).

 

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is also a big issue. It’s been brought to the attention of Westerners due to cases that have happened in the UK and here in Australia. Worldwide, it’s estimated that over 200 million girls are  victims of the barbaric ‘procedure’. This is due to myths and scaremongering over females and their sexuality. This is inexcusable.

 

While many countries around the world have made strides in women’s and girls’ rights, many still have a long way to go. The West in particular should not turn a blind eye to the atrocities that happen to girls worldwide, nor excuse them. I think it’s also important for women in the West to acknowledge that great strides have been made to benefit us. It’s not perfect, things by and large are still good.

 

What do you think is the greatest achievement made in regard to women’s and girls’ rights? It can be happening anywhere around the world. 

People need better protection in the entertainment industry

TW: sexual abuse, sexual harassment and domestic violence. If these are triggering for you proceed with caution or skip this post. 

 

Hollywood star
Image: iStock

There is something sick in the entertainment industry in the US, UK and Australia that needs to be addressed.

As you probably know, producer Harvey Weinstein has finally had to step down after women alleged that he sexually harassed women over thirty years. There were allegations of massages e and public masturbation in front of an unwilling participant. New York Times said that Weinstein paid off complainants for years.

 

I won’t go into who knew what, etc. I want to go to a deeper question: what the hell is going on in the entertainment industries in Australia, US and UK? The Weinstein saga is the latest that has been exposed. You’ve had allegations against comedian Bill Crosby, JImmy Saville in the UK and Hey Dad star Robert Hughes to name a few.

It’s not just the movie industry that has been affected either. On Sunday, TV personality Kerri – Anne Kennerly told Sunday Night about domestic violence she suffered at the hands of her ex – husband who was a record producer. It stopped when Kennerly held a loaded gun and threatened to pull the trigger. She then escaped.

 

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Also, former glam rock pioneer, Paul Gadd (better known as Gary Glitter), was convicted of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault of a ten  year – old girl, a thirteen year – old and twelve year – old back in the 1970’s. He was convicted of the rapes and in the 1990’s, was also charged with child pornography possession.

 

These are the incidents I can think of. No doubt there are countless more. My question is, why have children and women (and no doubt some men), who all they wanted to do was become a performer or see a performer they admired (as the Glitter case), only to be abused? What is with that?

More importantly, what has changed to protect those who are vulnerable? What can be done? Last night on ABC’s The Drum, writer, Jamila Rizvi made a point about how too few women become producers and how the movie industry is dominated by men. Maybe she has a point. But what about attitudes? What is the ethos in the entertainment industry when it comes to protecting children and not having anyone assaulted?

 

People should be able to follow their dreams. They should be able to do that without fear of abuse. Children and teenagers who have a particular passion for performing arts and have the opportunity should be able to do so without some sleaze taking advantage of them. That also goes for young people who see their heroes perform. Enough’s enough.

If this post has brought up any issues for you, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

1800 – RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Blue Knot Foundation (formerly Adults Surviving Child Abuse): 1300 657 380.

Feel free to put numbers/ contact details of any services in your area if you’re not from Australia. The more people we can help who’ve suffered sexual assault, childhood trauma, etc the better). 

Older people are being left out of discussions… until now

Old woman with flowers wearing hat
Older people need to be included in current social and political debates. (mage: iStock).

 

Actress and activist, Jane Fonda along with Robert Redford is starring in a new movie, Our Souls at Night. According to Studio 10 on Wednesday, the movie is about Addie Moore  and Louis Waters, who fall in love with each other in their senior years.

I have no intentions of seeing the movie, to be honest, (might one day. who knows), but it got me thinking about how society is just starting to add older people in discussions about social issues.

Mental health is one. In 2016, Mindframe reported that the age demographic with the highest suicide rate was men over 85. To his credit, Sky News’ Australia’s Paul Murray has raise this issue on Paul Murray Live. Other than that, you don’t hear much about it in the media.

Also to do with mental health is the impact that becoming widowed can have on the spouse left behind. Loneliness and often abandonment from family are also issues that too many elderly people face.

 

Then there are the social issues like same – sex marriage (I know everyone’s sick of the topic, but please hear me out).

When the issue of same – sex marriage is raised, it’s often young LGBTQ people that are the point of the discussion. It’s the mental health of young LGBTQ+ that cause commentators to worry and for politicians to attack. What isn’t talked about as often is how it affects LGBTQ people over fifty. On Monday, a man, probably in his fifties or sixties, rang up Sydney’s 2GB, saying that the marriage debate had brought back bad memories from when the Australian LGBTQ community started demanding rights, including the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The 1978 protest, the first Mardi Gras in Taylor Square started peacefully, but turned into a violent clash between gay, lesbian and transgender people and the police, which saw a number of the protesters were arrested.

One day, I was reading a Facebook post from a counselor who said that he had an increase in the number of LGBTQ+ clients contacting him for help during the same – sex marriage debate. A number of these were same – sex couples over fifty; those who lived through the period when homosexuality was criminalised. These debates were deja vu for them.

Older gay couple
Older people tend to be left out of the same – sex marriage debate, despite the affects that the 1978 clash with police might have had on them. (Image: iStock)

 

Poverty is another dire issue that many elderly people, especially women, face. One of the reasons for this is a lack of super, due to having time off to have a baby. This is a reason why I do support some sort of adequate paid parental leave scheme for new parents. Also, this is why the energy debate in Australia is so heated (no pun intended) at the moment. Of course, people should be able to live comfortably in their homes during the range of weather conditions that Australia is well – known for!

 

I’m certain that there are multiple other issues I can add. I’ll just leave you with this. People over fifty need and deserve our love and support. They should be a part of our national debates. They need to be heard.

I’d ask people too, if you have elderly people in your life, grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, friends, that you check up on them. Keep them in your mind and (if your religious/ spiritual), in your prayers.

Tom Petty dead at 66

US rock singer, Tom Petty has died from a heart attack. He was sixty – six.

The long – time manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Tony Dimitriads confirmed the news, according to CNN.

The Heartbreakers’ front-man and Travelling Wilburys’ band member was found unconscious in his Malibu home on Sunday night (California time). He was then taken to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital. Sadly, he couldn’t be revived.

Tom Petty has been a well – known singer since the 1970’s and was inducted into the Rock’n’roll Hall of Fame in 2002. In the eighties, he was a part of the Travelling Wilburys with former Beatle, George Harrison, ELO’s, Jeff Lynn, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan. Roy Orbison had a fatal heart attack in 1988. At the time, the band were recording the song End of the LIne. It was released after Orbison’s death.

According to the ABC (Australia), Dylan described news of Petty’s death as ‘shocking’.

Recently, Petty toured with the Heartbreakers again to celebrate forty years. This was to be their final performance.

 

What’s your favourite song from Tom Petty? (from either the Heartbreakers or Travelling Wilburys)? Feel free to share any memories you have of him (live performances, records/ CDs, etc).