The issues surrounding Harvey Weinstein case have me thinking about the broader issues it relates to, and not in a happy way.
It’s been all but impossible to escape the storm of controversy surrounding Hollywood power player Harvey Weinstein this week as victim after victim has come forward to detail allegations around his behaviour.
It’s pretty easy to say “Well, that’s not me” (and, to be clear, it isn’t). For a start, I don’t work in the high pressure world of Hollywood, where the casting couch would seem like a cliche, save for the fact that it’s a grubby and obviously horrendous reality for far too many people to make light of in such a way.
But I do work in the media, and have done so now for a number of decades.
Again, I can think of myself as blameless, and I’d hope that I am. I say that in the context that the worst I’d think I’d done that might have concerned any co-workers would be a few off-colour jokes here and there, often at my own expense. Still, grabbing the context of those comments and how they might affect others is always a fraught business. If my comments have concerned anyone I’ve worked with, I’m truly sorry.
But hey, that’s the wacky old USA, anyway, right? Wouldn’t happen here… except that it does.
Quite a lot if you happen to be female, it seems. I was struck by a Twitter thread this afternoon by the talented Carol Duncan. She’s now a Labour councillor in Newcastle, but prior to that had a long media career in commercial and ABC Radio. This afternoon, she wrote about her experiences, and, well, they’re not happy ones, to put it mildly. You can read the thread here (with appropriate warnings about potential triggers for abuse survivors, so I’m not just embedding)
Carol’s not alone, and I don’t pretend in any way to speak for her; having been interviewed a handful of times for tech related stories I have little doubt she can take care of herself, not that she should have to. I also don’t doubt her experiences for a single split second.
I don’t think this is unique to media and entertainment occupations, either, but it’s the bulk of my professional career, so it’s what I can really speak to.
Stories like that made me think.
I’ve worked in many workplaces over many years with a wide variety of people covering an array of viewpoints, religious beliefs, sexualities and every other little (and not so little) difference that makes us human beings. It’s been a genuine privilege to work with so many people with different talents and abilities….
I worry. Again, not about my own behaviour in the main, but about the fact that so often, these kinds of issues take place “behind closed doors”, or in contexts where the victims feel powerless and unable to complain. Did anything happen at a workplace where I was? I wasn’t always on the inside track for every bit of office gossip, and maybe I (unwittingly) was seen to “side” with the powerful and abusing. Again, I don’t know, and I’m certainly not accusing anyone I’ve worked with to speak of, because again, I really don’t know!
I genuinely don’t know, and maybe I’ve been lucky and this is all in my head.
Or maybe not, and I either wasn’t there, or folks thought I wouldn’t take matters seriously, or might side with those abusing their power.
I genuinely don’t know, but this is what I do know.
If I’ve worked with you, and something happened that never should have happened and you couldn’t, or felt you couldn’t come to me, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry if perhaps I wasn’t there when you might have needed me, for whatever reason and in whatever context.
And if there is anyone who needs someone to listen, help and support, I’m right here, even if I may have failed in the past.