Blaise Tapp: Sitting up and taking notice of victims

Harvey Weinstein. Picture: Toby Melville/PA Wire
Harvey Weinstein. Picture: Toby Melville/PA Wire
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Every now and again a seismic event happens which shakes both the Establishment and society in general to it very foundations.

It is no exaggeration to state that we are currently living through one of those events and, it is fair to say, it looks like changing the way some people treat others forever.

If the general public didn’t know a great deal about him before, Harvey Weinstein is now one of the most infamous people in the world right now, which in 2017, really is something.

Until a month ago Weinstein was a Hollywood titan – a man who had produced some of biggest cinematic hits of the past three decades, but now all that it is a footnote in history. What he is sure to be remembered for now, is the way that his career was abruptly ended amid a barrage of complaints from scores of women whose allegations range from inappropriate comments to rape.

While he denies the most serious charges against him, he does admit that his past behaviour has “caused a lot of pain”; but the legacy of this scandal is not confined to the other side of the Atlantic. While other well-known American media figures now face similar allegations, the fallout from the scandal has already started to make significant waves in this country, with allegations having been made about some politicians and journalists.

It seems that the alleged victims have been given courage to come forward following the #MeToo social media campaign, which was prompted by outrage against the unfolding scandal in Hollywood.

Hundreds of thousands of women and men worldwide used the hashtag to indicate that they too had suffered some form of sexual abuse or harassment. Since then, the world seems to have sat up and is now beginning to take notice of the legions of victims, who have been brave enough to speak out.

In Westminster, which has long been described by critics as a ‘boys’ club’, there have been reports that a group of female MPs have begun to to start privately naming, largely male, parliamentary colleagues, who they claim are guilty of inappropriate behaviour. At the weekend, this situation intensified when Prime Minister Theresa May called for tougher powers to deal with MPs accused of harassment and the mistreatment of staff.

It really does feel like we are experiencing a sea change, so why is there a significant minority of people who don’t see the seriousness of what has been exposed in the past four weeks?

While it shouldn’t surprise us that anonymous idiots are posting vile remarks online, accusing some victims of pursuing a feminist agenda, a number of prominent (female) commentators have turned the tables on those making the allegations, suggesting that some have mistaken clumsy passes for harassment.

While there is always a risk of a misunderstanding in most scenarios that life throws at us, 
I would argue that it takes a 
lot of guts for somebody to publicly say they were sexually harassed or, in some cases, assaulted, so we should think very carefully before we question anybody’s motives for speaking out.

There is a view among some members of older generations that this current shift towards standing up to the aggressor is yet another sign of the snowflake generation being unable to cope with the harsh realities of life.

Thankfully these outdated opinions are being drowned out by those brave enough to say ‘enough is enough’.

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