Clutch your pearls, Hollywood movie mogul tries to uses his wealth and status to get women.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes the behaviour was criminal, often immoral, always unequal.

If you’re shocked at the behaviour of men in the world’s heartbeat of glitz and glamour then you’ve never looked past your own nose at home.

Because there’s a Harvey Weinstein in every work place. Whether that’s a supermarket, a factory floor, an office block or a National Parliament, there’s always one and often many more. We all know who they are.

All abuse is about the unequal exercise of power. And for as long as men have more than a 50 percent share of it, women will suffer.

They’ll suffer physically, mentally and economically. From the knuckles of a violent partner to the notes in their pay packet.

My argument today is not to be outraged at the Harvey’s of this world, there’s nothing new in that.

Crusading against those who abuse or exploit their power has been my life’s work and the work of hundreds of thousands of women across the country who dare to use their voice.

No my anger today is for you, the bystander. That regular “modern” guy that prides himself on doing his share of the dishes and the nappy changing.

The guy who feels a bit uncomfortable when his mate letches on a woman in a bar or tells a filthy joke at her expense in the changing room.

Or tells his mates what he did his girlfriend last night or what he’d like to do to her best friend.

Do you speak out? Because if you didn’t, you just legitimised that behaviour and created the ground for your mate to be that bit braver, that bit bolder next time.

No. The most shocking story I’ve read in the past week is the story of a 17 year old girl who was sexually assaulted not once but three times by three different men on her walk home from a night out in London.

Yes she was drunk and yes she was underage but if you think either of those facts offer the men a defence then you’re a disgrace to your kin and I encourage you to look up the words “victim blaming” and “caveman” in the nearest dictionary.

I remember once being sat down by a male adviser, and told that the latest focus groups showed people thought I banged on about women’s issues a bit too often and it might be an idea to change the record and talk about more serious issues like the economy and jobs for a while.

He wasn’t asking me to stop talking about them – just to do it a bit less frequently. Because you know, “people” (men) didn’t like it. Well tough. Because failing to talk about these issues makes you that bystander.

And every bystander shares the guilt of the men who pray on your mothers, sisters and daughters.

That stings because it’s true.

 

This article first appeared in the Daily Record newspaper on the 17th of October 2017.

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