Regarding the recent allegations in Hollywood, I would like to make one thing very clear.
To each and every one of you, you are my heroes. You have strength you thought was weakness, you have bones made of steel and hearts that roar like lions.
To the ones who haven’t come forward, who hold onto their stories and negotiate with themselves every single day as to whether or not you have it within you to speak up, I say the same. You are brave, you are worthy, you are strong. No one is entitled to your story, but those of you who have reached a point where you feel like that story can be made public, I believe you. I believe you. I believe you. I stand with you.
I am stating unequivocally that whatever I can do to help aid in the dismantling of this rape culture that ensures predators stay and survivors leave, I will do it.
To those of you who look at the sudden flood of stories coming out of Hollywood and scoff, you should know that A) they are not as sudden as you think, only more public, B) survivors face more hate and triggering threats and violence when they come forward and C) you’re a dick for deciding that just because you like something someone has created, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be a terrible human being who has hurt others from their place of power.
Hollywood has long been weighted down with uneven power dynamics. The industry skews heavily towards white and male, which means that the imbalance creates power vacuums that no one is checking because it doesn’t serve them to. This has been true from the moment dudes in NYC ran away to California to make movies without being bothered by the rules of the city. This has been true of all industries since the dawn of time. Brave people have been coming forward for years, yet we’re only hearing them in mainstream media now. Ask yourself why. Ask yourself how it has been swept under the rug, and then maybe you might have a little bit better understanding of the way privilege works in reality. Just because you haven’t been a victim of it, doesn’t mean it’s not out there and that it’s not happening with frightening regularity.
The power of privilege means that even if someone comes forward, often times nothing is often done about it besides quieting the survivor. (That person is usually described as problematic or a troublemaker for trying to mess up the life of the rapist and have trouble finding work from then on). You can look at any number of very public rape cases in the news and see how much our society cares about rape and sexual assault. People cry out, yet sentencing for rapists remains a joke (if the rapist gets any prison time at all). Often, the lives of the rapists, their futures, and their perceived contributions to society, are considered with loving detail when sentencing is upon judges. There is far more deliberation into the rapists’ futures than in the ways in which those people who feared, who went through the single most painful thing they may ever experience, who had safety stolen from them, will ever have usually ever get from anyone. Victims of violent behavior are seen as an inconvenience, while rapists are seen as people worthy of a second chance.
Coming forward isn’t easy. It’s met with derision, people trying to explain away your trauma as you wanting it, as your bad choice, as someone looking for attention in a world where this sort of attention can often mean more rape and death threats because you insulted someone’s favorite by daring to speak up about what happened.
No one, not you or me, is owed those stories. No one HAS to come forward. The fact that people are examining their truths and coming forward now is nothing short of awe inspiring. They are doing it knowing full well that their industry, like many industries, is run upon a system of referrals and who you know. Your name gets tainted as being difficult; when you speak too loudly, demand too much, or are too willing to speak up for other people, you stop getting work. The dreams that brought people into creating content for the world to share and love become a nightmare of silence, of fear, and of guilt.
To every single person who excuses the harasser, the sexual assaulter, the rapist, or any other predatory behavior, I say this with my whole heart: Fuck you and the privilege you rode in on.
To every single man and woman who stays silent when others joke, laugh, or make someone else uncomfortable in their work environment, I say this with my whole heart: Fuck you and your complicitness.
To every single person that dares take someone else autonomy from them, who uses their power to bring pain and fear to others, I say this with my whole heart: Fuck you. We’re coming for you.
This is not fully only a Hollywood problem, as much as it is a culture of rape and silence problem. It exists everywhere, in various shades of pain and silence. The difference is that Hollywood has some very visible members of the public who are able to speak up. You should be listening to them. You should take their stories as a sign that it is more widespread than you think, and know that the many vulnerable members of Hollywood still can’t speak up. You should know that this probably exists in your work and in ways that may shock you. You should take this moment to realize that you can do something for the people around you by paying attention, by speaking up when someone engages in predatory behavior, and by standing in solidarity to those who come forward.
Ignoring it is no longer an option, and this is the power of all these people coming forward. They have made it clear that change is the only solution to the ongoing predatory behavior facing the vulnerable.
To those who have power and are sitting there quietly mumbling to themselves that you have never attacked someone, you are not absolved. Become an ally. Be fiercely protective. Make a stand. Your silence is noticeable. You are guilty. Do better.
Women do not need to change their behavior. They do not need to dress differently, speak another way, or become a wizard who knows how to apparate out of danger. These are ridiculous notions of protection brought on by those who have never had to fear for their bodies, their futures, or their sanity. Predators seek out those who are most vulnerable, usually in such white, male dominated communities like Hollywood those being women, particularly women of color, and children, and they find a way to take without permission for as long as they can get away with it. (Which the studios seem to think is for as long as it isn’t costing them money. Who cares about morals in the face of millions of dollars, right?) As long as the predators take in a way that does not harm the status quo, it is accepted.
This is unacceptable.
I hope every single predator sits now with the feeling of cold fear in the pit of their stomach, knowing that a community of loving, supportive, strong-ass people are rising up to say no more. Because these people who have come forward carry the hearts of all those who have come before them, carry the stories, have born witness, and no one can stop the witnessing now that it has started.
But whatever the future holds for the predators, whether we stop talking about this or whether the house is cleared of the scorpions by the end of this storm, I want every single survivor to know that no matter what society tries to pressure you with, no matter the ignorant fuckhats who try to make you feel crazy and like a liar, no matter the people who try to pressure you into silence, or pressure you into giving over everything, you are beautiful, you are extraordinary, you are stronger than you think, and I believe you.
I believe you, I believe you, I believe you.