My view: Hollywood Sexual Harassment Scandal #MeToo

I'm not normally one to weigh in on these debates and offer my opinion because in general I like to keep things light but some things are sometimes too important to avoid and hide away from for the sake of light-heartedness. Its exactly avoiding the issue that has created this huge one. 

I started out shocked at the first few stories that were coming out and at the people at the center of these allegations.

I then became saddened at the state of the world when more and more and more people started to come forward with their own hidden secrets of harassment. Saddened that they felt they had to keep this to themselves all this time.
I then went through a period of feeling a little bit sorry for men in general. Not the beasts we're talking about here, but your average Joe, who really isn't a sexual predator in the slightest, who is now too scared to even be around women just in case they come across as too friendly or their flirting is taken the wrong way.
When I actually bothered to think below the surface, I realised that the stories were not a shock at all. They were just things we as women had been accepting. They were things that were happening every single day but nobody ever thought to question it - maybe through fear of the repercussions of  speaking out or maybe because they thought the behaviour of these men was normal or that it was their issue they felt uncomfortable with a situation not the men causing the issue?

I was a University student in Cheltenham many moons ago and every year the Cheltenham Festival would happen and the town would be filled with (mainly) men who had attended the races. Many of whom were middle aged, high powered business men in expensive suits. Men with lots of money, lovely homes and lovely wives and children at home. 

And after a day at the races & plenty of drinking, these men have one thing on their minds. That is reflected in the way the towns clubs have gone over the years, now most of which offer topless barmaids, lap-dances and the like.

And every year, students at the University who went out to clubs to have a good time, just as they would every other night of the year would unsuspectingly get caught up in it all.

Men would grab young girls like they were their property. They would ply them with expensive champagne by the bottle. They would 'cheekily' slip a hand up a skirt or pull a champagne plied, wobbly legged, girl onto their lap.

The girls were either too drunk to know what was going on or over powered and uncomfortable around these men. 

And if they did speak out, they would be the drunken ones thrown out like garbage from the club, not the men flashing the cash and filling the tills!

Yet nobody batted an eye-lid. It was just the norm. It was just men out for a good night.

I got caught out by it all in my first year but learned my lesson and never ventured out during festival week again. But how many other Freshers got caught out?

That's not to say it's all men though and I'm aware how all of this can come across as men are just sex pests and only ever out for one thing. I know they aren't and that is why I started to feel sorry for the good men out there being tarnished with the same brush as the bad eggs out there.

Cheltenham festival wasn't my only experience during University. 

I also experienced an over friendly taxi-driver who offered to take me somewhere secluded to 'watch DVDs in his taxi' instead of dropping me to meet my friends in town. He was relentless for the whole night, texting me asking me to meet him. I was 18 and he was about 20 years older! I mentioned it  to another taxi driver taking us home from our night out who was absolutely disgusted. Luckily he dealt with it for me and had him reported to the council. But its scary to think how pushy he may have gotten or what other girls he was pushing himself onto!

And then again when I left University, I had a manager in my first ever job who became 'overly friendly' on works nights out. Who would place a hand on your knee or say highly inappropriate things. I laughed them off at the time but I wish in hindsight I'd have had the courage to say 'No, you're making me uncomfortable and this isn't OK'. He was simply known as 'a bit of a perv' within the office and it was accepted that that was just him. 

These are just my experiences but if I have these few that have happened or been witnessed by me, what about others? When they actually sit down and think about incidents that they'd laughed off or let go? When they realise, actually, looking back, that wasn't right.

I think that some people think that as these incidents and others that are coming out of Hollywood aren't full on rape, they are minor and therefore insignificant. But are they? Are these things we should just be putting up with? Or are these exactly the little things we should be standing up against?

I am now 32 and all of my experiences happened when I was 18/19. Now I am older, I am stronger, I have more understanding of the world, I have children and a partner and feel secure enough and confident enough in myself to speak out if it was needed.

But it is these vulnerable & sometimes naive young women we need to be empowering right now. To make sure the next generation of youngsters are strong enough, even as teenagers to know they do have a voice and they will be listened to, no matter how small it might seem or how much power the other person holds.

And so my initial sadness at the sorry state of it Hollywood and the world right now was turned to pride. I feel so so very proud of the very first women to stand up and publicly say 'This happened to me and it is not right'. So very proud of those who listened and believed. Proud of those who felt empowered by others and able to speak out their own truths. Proud that we are paving the way to make change for our daughters. Proud that we are slowly starting to bring these men to justice and making an example of them.

Proud that we, men & women alike, are saying 'This is not OK'.

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