From Lady GaGa’s performance at the Academy Awards, to the Peyton Manning story, to the music industry (including the indie music scene), to the Erin Andrews trial, there is one important lesson to be learned. There are no “safe places” for women.
Undoubtedly, women have come a long way but recent events have shown there is still a long way to go. The struggle of Kesha Rose to break free and Lady GaGa’s public disclosure of her own rape have shown a light on the music industry. The Erin Andrews trial not only casts some real shadows over the monolith that is ESPN, it also shines a light on how the legal establishment views women.
Despite recent gains, women still must watch their back when it comes to protection of their person and their character. Want to go to college? One in 5 women (and one in 16 men) are sexually assaulted while in college. These numbers are even more staggering when you realize more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault. (All statistics per NSVRC link below).
Want to skip college and try the music scene? You better pay attention to Kesha Rose and what she is experiencing. Her contract, and the situation she finds herself in, is quite common and you see themes of that throughout a lot of women’s stories coming out of mainstream music.
While Kesha’s story of rape and abuse is horrifying, the controlling manner in which her so called manager stifled her creativity is frightening too. Young women in the music scene are sexualized and sold. Many of them suffer when they try to fight back against the system. This isn’t isolated to mainstream music by any means.
Think the indie music scene is better? Study up and think again. Women in the indie music scene say its not any better and that sexual harassment and assault is rampant there as well. The indie scene has a reputation for being populated with men associated with and sympathetic to the feminist cause. Buyer beware.
The farce of men posing as sympathetic to women’s issues isn’t isolated to the music scene. Consider the story of Hart Noecker, a man who publicly sympathized with feminist causes and privately used his access to allegedly assault many. Let’s also not forget Hugo Schwyzer, a man described as a “prominent male feminist,” and who used his position of power as a professor where he taught “gender studies” to prey on his students. He wrote for many prominent feminist websites. He is also an admitted abuser.
Think comedy might be different? Not so fast. Everyone now knows about the allegations against Bill Cosby as more than 50 women have come forward to detail abuse at his hands. What is less known are the number of other comedians who are a danger to women in the comedy industry. Comedians in Los Angeles and Chicago, both popular comedy scenes, have started organizing and publicizing in an effort to reduce the number of victims. Oh no, comedy isn’t some safe haven either.
Want to lose yourself in sports and be the next Erin Andrews. You better pay attention to her trial currently unfolding in Nashville, Tennessee. The details are too voluminous to go into detail here, but the trial revolves around Marriott’s unbelievable actions in providing access to her stalker by booking him in the room next to her. He bore a hole between their rooms and taped her while she undressed.
In the course of the trial, a couple of things happened that are pertinent to this discussion. First, Andrews testified that ESPN, the self professed “World Wide Leader” in sports, forced her to do an interview on national television, before she would be allowed to return to her regular work duties, in which she confirmed the stalking and discussed the issue in order to dispel “public perception” she had orchestrated her own nightmare.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Marriott’s defense proceeded to double down by asserting that the stalking incident, and resulting video, actually improved her career. The level of victim blaming isn’t surprising to anyone familiar with the “good ole boys” attitude prevalent in the legal field but its disgusting nonetheless.
The issue of damages is certainly pertinent to the defense but sensitivity toward women is lacking in the legal community. Just watch any incident where a woman comes forward with allegations of abuse at the hands of a man, particularly and powerful one, and you get the picture. Speaking from experience, the legal field isn’t that friendly to women in general. In fact, its downright brutal.
Its not alone in the so called “higher professions” as this recent piece on sexual harassment in the medical profession establishes. Sexual harassment and assault is rampant in the military, with details of retaliation against those who come forward both sickening and frightening.
None of this is new by any means but what is new are the record number of women willing to come forward and talk about their experiences. The numbers show we have a problem but now what do we do about it? That needs to be the larger focus.
The only weapon against ignorance is education. Certainly all these professions need to do a better job of eliminating discrimination in their ranks. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough. We must start educating our children at a younger age that women are not objects and to respect them as peers.
Until we start challenging the view of women as less than equal, as second class citizens, and as less than worthy of belief in a real and meaningful way, nothing is ever going to change.
Be kind to one another