By JOHANNA SCHNELLER
Friday, November 24, 2017
We never thought the revolution would come in this manner. But now that it's here - now that abusive men are being cast out from their perches in Hollywood and the media - what to do about it? What do women want? (Please note that, though I'm writing here about women, this holds true for people of colour and diversity, too.)
On one hand, we believe, as Samantha Bee said, "The meteor has landed; it doesn't matter any more what the dinosaurs think." On the other, we're sure it can't last. People in power don't give up power. There will be push back.
We want to see the numbers of accused sexual harassers and assaulters pile up; we want them counted and held accountable. We don't want to reach a point where that number is so high that people tune out.
We want to keep exposing stories with headlines such as, "Russell Simmons Accused Of Forcing Sex On Model While Brett Ratner Watched." We want these stories to stop, so we never have to read headlines like that again.
We're nervous about categories being collapsed - for example, inappropriate sexual innuendo isn't the same as rape. We don't care if categories are collapsed - we're so fed up, we want them all to hang.
We want harassers ousted, fired, gone: Louis C.K.'s movie, cancelled.
Kevin Spacey's role in Ridley Scott's forthcoming J. Paul Getty story All the Money in the World, erased from the finished film and replaced by Christopher Plummer. Jeffrey Tambor, written out of Transparent. Creative Artists Agency agent Cameron Mitchell, terminated. Michael Oreskes, NPR executive, toast.
Mark Schwahn, showrunner of One Tree Hill and The Royals, history. Charlie Rose, off the air of CBS and PBS, forever. Mogul Harvey Weinstein started the ball rolling, but the allegations against him are so egregious, everyone can shrug and say, "I'm not him." But Rose?
Spacey? Tambor? If those guys are flattened - if this can happen to them - that really may make men think twice.
We want some conservative abusers outed, too; it can't just be the liberals. And if men are pulling this crap at studios, and at the Olympics, then they're doing it at insurance companies and middle schools and banks and fast-food franchises, and we want their names, too.
We want harassers suspended: John Lasseter, on leave from Pixar, the animation studio he runs, for "inappropriate hugging." Glenn Thrush, absent from the pages of The New York Times, after more than one instance of boozy mashing. Actor Jason Beghe, given time off from Chicago P.D. to work out his rage and harassment issues. Matthew Weiner, Dustin Hoffman - accused (of lewdness that marginalized women and even drove them away from their professions), but in limbo. We want men to have the opportunity to listen, to learn, to re-educate themselves. We don't just want them to stop it; we want them to fix it.
We want people to perhaps, maybe, eventually, get a second chance. We can't quite imagine never seeing Spacey or Casey Affleck act ever again. We agree that Rose has to go, but at the same time, we feel kind of sick about it. As Sarah Silverman said, "It's okay to have some kind of empathy or compassion ... even if it's something where we say, 'You're going to go to jail' or, 'This is not acceptable.' But to kind of try to understand what's behind bad deeds, because people aren't just bad guys and good guys. ... It's very nuanced and it's worth understanding." We want to be human about this - no one wants to be defined by the worst thing we've ever done.
We want investigations conducted, action taken, as Universal Television and Wolf Entertainment did when they suspended Beghe from Chicago P.D. We don't want investigations that result in women leaving their jobs, as happened with Chicago P.D.: Star Sophia Bush quit, and at least one other actress and a crew member seem to have been written out or reassigned. We're sick to death of that: Women flee from comedy, while C.K. rises to HBO glory. Kater Gordon leaves the writing staff of Mad Men, while Weiner, the boss who allegedly asked to see her naked, collects Emmys. Anita Hill is shuffled home, while Clarence Thomas becomes a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Women are scorned, as Donald Trump becomes U.S. President.
We want to be fair. We support due process; alleged is not convicted. We don't trust due process; it's never favoured us. So if some guy on this list is punished more than he deserves, well, sometimes two wrongs do make a right. Things have always been unfair. They're just unfair to different people now.
We want to stand by our friends, as Lena Dunham did when she posted about one of her writers on Girls, Murray Miller, who's been accused of harassment: "While our first instinct is to listen to every woman's story, our insider knowledge of Murray's situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 per cent of assault cases that are misreported every year."
We want the choice to keep our mouths shut, as Jill Soloway, creator of Transparent, did, by not commenting on Tambor. (When Soloway cried out, "Topple the patriarchy!" at the Emmys, I doubt she anticipated that would include the star of her show.)
We accept that sometimes friends do terrible things, as Dunham did when she backtracked the next day on Miller: "Every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard, fully and completely, and our relationship to the accused should not be part of the calculation anyone makes when examining her case," she wrote in a statement. "Every person and every feminist should be required to hear her. Under patriarchy, 'I believe you' is essential. Until we are all believed, none of us will be believed. We apologize to any women who have been disappointed."
We want to be Norah O'Donnell, the CBS morning-show host who said of her colleague Charlie Rose, "This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment of where we stand and, more generally, the safety of women. Let me be very clear: There is no excuse for this alleged behaviour. It is systematic and it is pervasive."
We want to be Gayle King, the CBS morning-show host who said of her colleague Charlie Rose, "I got an hour and 42 minutes of sleep last night. Oprah called me and asked if I was okay. I am not okay. I have enjoyed a friendship and a partnership with Charlie for the past five years and I have held him in such high regard and I am really struggling. ... We are all rocked by this."
We want real apologies, apologies that read, "I am deeply sorry for my behaviour, which I know has been hurtful to my friends and colleagues." We do not want "if" apologies, apologies that read, "If I offended you, then I'm sorry." That's not an apology. That's a lawyer. We don't want this, from Pixar's Lasseter: "No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected." We don't care about your intent.
We want to sincerely apologize to all the women who accused people in the past, whom we ignored - for example, to the women who accused Bill Clinton, whom we ourselves (including ur-feminist Gloria Steinem) slut-shamed and wrote off as "crazy." It doesn't matter that "those were different times," that "we needed Clinton's agenda," that "we internalized the abuse to the point where we perpetrated it, too."
We shouldn't have. We're sorry.
We're watching the Al Franken case closely to make sure we don't do it again.
We want to be believed and we want consequences. As Tig Notaro said of C.K., the only positive "is that victims were not told they're lying any more." We want to go to our colleagues, our human-resources departments, our police departments and especially our courts - because as all previous civil-rights movements have shown, no change is permanent until it's law - we want to be heard, and we want to win.
Here's what we really want. Parity.
We don't want all the power. We want our fair share. Fifty per cent. In government, in business, in hospitality. On boards, in big-box stores.
On film sets, at Facebook. In medicine, law, academia; in Starbucks, Google and The Globe and Mail. This pervasive harassment and abuse we are seeing isn't the disease, it's the symptom. The disease is inequality.
We want it cured.