A confession: I’ve been struggling all week to know what to say about the Harvey Weinstein scandal. I mean, #metoo because #existingwhilefemale. I reistsed saying this, thought, maybe because my own experiences with sexual harassment are, to me anyway, so minor compared to the outrages and horrors that have been revealed in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations. My experiences don’t define me, and I won’t list them here, but the steady parade of the women I idolize, strong women, smart women, sharing that hashtag is hard to process. Thinking back to my own humiliations and violations has been a demoralizing experience. Have I internalized it all too much? Not enough? And somewhere the vague, yet burning knowledge that we have to do better. Somehow.
All I can keep thinking is, what is wrong with men? Why is dominating, marginalizing, degrading and treating women as less that human so central to the idea of masculinity? Why do you do this to us?
And how to even address that on a website that’s supposed to be about comics news?
As briefly outlined in Andrea Ayres’s piece earlier today, the Weinstein scandal has ignited a wildfire confronting the reality of how men in positions of power use it to abuse women. Just to give a few examples that are related to our own nerd focus:
• 217 women who work in animation have signed a letter asking for an end to sexual harassment in the animation industry.
• Chris Savino has been fired from The Loud House, an animated show he created and show ran, following accusations of sexual harassment from more than a dozen women. The show, which airs on Nickelodeon, is about a boy who has 10 sisters.
• Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, has been fired following allegations that he harassed producer Isa Hackett (Man in the HIgh Castle) at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con. Among the allegations: Price told Hackett she would “love my dick” on the way to a party.
• Kevin Smith has vowed to donate all of his residuals from his Weinstein-produced films (Clerks, Chasing Amy) to the Women in Film organization.
When a member of the audience called out that it wasn’t his fault, Smith said, “I’m not looking for sympathy. I know it’s not my fault, but I didn’t f—— help. Because I sat out there talking about this man like he was a hero, like he was my friend, like he was my father and s— like that, and he changed my f—— life. And I showed other people, like, ‘You can dream, and you can make stuff, and this man will put it out.’ I was singing praises of somebody that I didn’t f—— know.”
And on and on. There is more to come, so much more.
Smith is a bit of an open book, and one suspects he’s being sincere in his statements but at the same time…how did you NOT know?
Men don’t know what “knowing” is. Any man will tell you that what they say when women aren’t around is awful. It’s called being “one of the boys” and it’s a rite of “manhood.” They condone it and participate in it.
Men are so hung up on this “hero” ideal, an ideal the whole superhero industry is founded on, but in the real world, it’s an ideal that only applies to made-up bullshit situations. Men are not trained to protect less powerful people who speak out. Harvey Weinstein was a public feminist but a private pig, and it was so, so easy to get away with.
When the most powerful man in Hollywood asks a woman to meet him in his hotel room, what the fuck do you think that was about, Kevin? Were you born yesterday? Every Hollywood guy who is now saying “Whoa, I should have seen that elephant who was crapping in the room!” was actually sitting in a chair made of elephant crap the whole time.
And now we’re back where we started. Why? Why do men have this awful problem? Why do women have to spend so much of their time and energy avoiding being physically harmed by the men who should be their partners, colleagues and neighbors?
Can you imagine all the things women could do if they didn’t have to worry about being sexually assaulted all the time? Harvey Weinstein didn’t have to make that choice. He could go around sexually assaulting all the women he liked whenever he wanted and still make some (admittedly) excellent movies.
The straightforward dismissals of abusers Chris Savino and Roy Price stand in stark contrast to the comics industry, where acknowledged abusers and harassers like Scott Allie and Eddie Berganza (and so many more) are allowed to continue in their jobs until they graciously step down to spend more time with their families.
So yeah, I’ve struggled. I hope a lot of people are struggling.
For some men, the #metoo hashtag has been a wake up call to the reality all women live with every day of their lives. But if I’ve been demoralized thinking about my trivial incidents of harassment I can’t imagine the courage and strength its taken women from Lupita Nyong’O to Isa Hackett to McKayla Maroney and dozens and dozens more to revisit their abuse. They are the true heroes. It would be nice if men realized that, too.
So that’s where I’m at. Men, don’t be pigs and, most importantly, don’t let other men be pigs. It’s called simple human dignity, and all women deserve it.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.