You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
This has nothing to do with travel or writing, but everything to do with a bubbling rage, a widespread disgust felt by anyone who’s spent more than 5 minutes reading about “Hollywood mogul” Harvey Weinstein’s thirty years of sexual harassment and assault against women.
This afternoon and last night, a best friend and I stoked the fires of rage across countless furiously-typed text messages, exchanging our disgust at how women could be so mistreated, not just by a wretched man but by a system meant to silence them. Before long we were asking ourselves where Hollywood ends and society begins, and the line is unfortunately far too blurred to make any sort of clear distinction.
It comes down to that “chicken and egg” thing; which came first? Do we diminish and intimidate women because of their diminished roles on screen, powered by a Hollywood machine led by men who made it happen? A machine that gives the majority of significant speaking roles in films to men? Or demands that most films need a sexy girlfriend but not the other way around? Or dictates that Tom Cruise’s female lead in a movie will be 25 years his junior because that’s totally normal? Or creates countless movies about a male loser’s “coming of age,” where he “finds himself” and becomes a better man thanks to the “quirky magical girl with the cool personality,” who somehow had no needs of her own, but only existed to “show him the way?” (I am so sick of those movies I will stab my eyes out if I have to see another one)
Or…did the Hollywood machine create all of this because we wanted it? Are we being too hard on the (mostly) men who run Hollywood–excluding Harvey Weinstein who is clearly an evil asshole–because they’re simply responding to demand with an adequate supply?
I started thinking about this and I couldn’t come up with a clear answer, at least not one that I’d be able to fit onto Twitter. I’m not even sure if the unlimited character-count of a blog will help me formulate an answer, but I find myself asking: how did we get here?
When I break it all down and try my best to organize everything I’ve read, observed, and experienced first-hand, the one common thing at the root of it all seems to be that women are interpreted as objects for male pleasure. This may not be a “100% all the time” thing that overwhelms my sense of self all day long, but in some form or another, isn’t it here, there and everywhere? If you’re squinting your eyes and struggling to find this problem, let’s not forget that Hugh Hefner built an entire industry on this very concept. He LITERALLY had a mansion full of ADULT WOMEN called “bunnies,” whose ONLY role was to be fully available as pleasure objects. And let’s not pretend he was some rogue eccentric, like “oh Hef, that ONE crazy guy who views women this way…” Yeah right. In fact, mainstream celebrities and wannabes would trample over each other to get invites into those Playboy mansion pool parties, and all the while middle-class “normals” would happily envision the fantasy.
Beyond the universe of the late and gross Hugh Hefner, we live in a society where so much comes back to the orbit of male pleasure (see: Viagra and lack of surefire women’s equivalent). If you’re unconvinced, think about one of the first things anyone says when a women is harassed on the street, or assaulted, or faces unwanted advances on the subway, or in an elevator, or at a bar, or in the office, or in a cave (please insert any location in life). The first and most common question is “what was she wearing?”
Seriously, how many bajillion times is this stupid question asked?
The only way to explain this question is that society orbits around male pleasure, a.k.a the uncontrollable, inevitable, probability that a dude will get a boner.
“If you didn’t want to cause “street boners,” you shouldn’t have worn that.”
“If you’re showing cleavage at the office, don’t be surprised when you turn around and find a “corporate boner.””
Obviously the wording in dress code policies or rape case courtroom trials is different, but the thinly-veiled implication is always there. It’s never about a man somehow figuring out a way to NOT harass a woman, or to NOT have a boner, but instead it’s always about what a WOMAN can do to limit the number of boners she’s responsible for, like maybe if she didn’t go out so late at night, she would reduce the risk of triggering spontaneous boner syndrome. I mean…what?
I don’t have a direct solution to this problem, and I do acknowledge that a lot of men are respectful, cool, and trusted allies (and I’m happy to know a few of them!). There are however far too many men who live in a bubble of entitlement; entitled to the Victoria’s Secret models as seen on TV, despite having nothing to offer in return, entitled to hooking up with a girl just because he bought her one drink, or entitled to a conversation on the subway, just because he graced some unsuspecting woman with his leering smile.
To these wretched, wayward entitled fools, I offer you a check-list, because after the scandalizing demise of Harvey Weinstein, a (tiny) optimistic part of me believes that your horrible behaviour won’t fly anymore, so here is some advice to improve yourselves:
Checklist for treating women like human beings with the most basic level of respect:
A writer’s work day is a vast and varied thing. I will never call it difficult or noble, when society’s full of people doing tougher and nobler things, but it entails all kinds of “work” you might not associate with a writer’s job.
Like…for example…spending a solid hour reading through links and watching tutorials on how to embed a PDF into a wordpress.com page, which resulted in a bevy (yes, bevy) of conflicting info on whether or not embedding is possible unless you upgrade to wordpress.org, and the eventual realization that all I had to do was get a Scribd account and upload my file through there…the end result being a lovely string of code with magical embedding powers.
(I fell asleep as I was typing that; and you?)
It’s entirely possible that it took me an hour to figure out the above ’cause I’m a moron, so fine, with my personal brain capacity as a qualifier: the above was an hour of solid WORK. Another thing you might not associate with a writer’s job is Googling the term “speedballing,” but that’s for my next book so don’t even worry about it, mmkay? Back to the PDF embedding…below are the first ten pages of my screenplay Dreamaholics Anonymous! Nine of these ten pages take place in Paris, so HELLO, very applicable to this blog, wink wink! (unlike my last post on mannequin kneecaps, which had nothing to do with Paris but was gripping nonetheless). It’s a dramatic comedy with some romance, not a romantic comedy (there’s a difference, I swear), and I hope you enjoy this kick-off to a tale which can quickly be described as such: “When a fledgling writer gets tricked into committing to an “AA style” group for dreamers, she must decide whether to give up or keep the dream alive, amidst the preachings of a tyrannical group leader, a domineering family, and an unexpected romance within the group.”
Page ten may not get you to that “AA style” group for dreamers plot point, but play your cards right and maybe I’ll share some more. Or maybe let’s get a producer on board! Or maybe, most likely, I eventually get my friends to act it all out with convincing props. Right now this script is in screenplay contest limbo, since all the big contests won’t be be posting any results until July or August (if I make the next round of even one of those contests I’ll allow myself a guilt-free bowl of “double-churned” (can’t you just hear the fat?) ice cream). Until then an “honourable mention” a.k.a. third place at the 2014 LA Reel Film Festival is a nice little boost, as I get myself back into book-writing mode with “Paris Anyone? How to Bring Your Dream Trip to Life” (working title), which is an edgy and useful guidebook with some personalized reflections. It’s also the book where the speedballing reference will go! (except that is NOT a personalized reflection)
I should go then, so many more technological writer things to learn!
PS: I hope you enjoy the first ten pages of the script, and I hope the Paris descriptions help you picture a movie in your head…
PPS: invariably this PDF won’t embed properly in certain browsers, to which I offer you an empathetic sigh…
PPPS: PRO TIP: if you zoom-in the view in your browser it’s a little easier to read. I’m such a tech pro, I can’t even stand it..