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'A message to any man who thinks women are too sensitive nowadays: wake up and read the bloody news'

A look back on a horrible week for women.

Harvey Weinstein Sexual Harassment Source: AP/PA Images

OVER THE PAST week, the world has been rocked by the revelations about Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is alleged to have raped, assaulted and harassed women for several decades.

The story has been disturbing and depressing in equal measure. Disturbing in the sense that the accusations and subsequent cover-up are enough to make you feel sick to the pit of your stomach. Depressing in the sense that it’s all so desperately familiar and unsurprising.

You see, Harvey Weinstein is not an outlier and women don’t have the luxury of feeling “shocked” and “saddened” by his behaviour. Though he may loom large in Hollywood circles, Harvey Weinstein is just another manifestation of a society that doesn’t value or care about women.

Think that’s an exaggeration? Let’s look back on the week that was, shall we?

Friday October 6th

Journalist Lauren Sivan revealed Harvey Weinstein once blocked her path in a restaurant and masturbated in front of her until he ejaculated after she rebuffed his advances.

A rape victim in Ireland was given the go-ahead to sue the Garda Commissioner and the State after her new address was disclosed to a summons server working on behalf of her attacker by a Garda.

A Swedish model said that she received rape threats for appearing in an Adidas ad with unshaven legs.

Saturday October 7th

Nelly was arrested on suspicion of second degree rape after a woman alleged he raped her on his tour bus. The rapper was released without charge, pending further investigation, and denies the accusations. The same day, an unsettling video emerged of Nelly serenading a young girl on stage and playing with her hair.

If you can’t see the video, please click here

Sunday October 8th

David Walsh, the chief sports writer with The Sunday Times, defended his decision to write a letter for support for journalist Tom Humphries, stating, “I could not abandon him.” Last week, Humphries pleaded guilty to six charges, including the sexual defilement and exploitation of a child.

Humphries had spent two years grooming his victim, a 16-year-old girl, and sexually abused her. In a statement, the victim said the abuse had made her “physically, emotionally and mentally ill”. She garnered a passing mention in Walsh’s statement.

Monday October 9th

Danny Keena, a Westmeath farmer, was found guilty of murdering the mother of his two children, Brigid Maguire, two months after she left him. Their two children testified that their mother had endured years of abusive behaviour at the hands of their father, including one incident where he threatened her with a hammer and poker. (As an aside, 87% of women killed in Ireland over the past twenty years were murdered by a male partner or man known to them, according to 2016 figures.)

Today FM’s The Last Word with Matt Cooper broadcast a 2012 interview with journalist David Walsh in which he described Tom Humphries as “a great, great man”. The interview was conducted after the allegations against Humphries were known.

Andy Signore, the creator of the enormously popular YouTube series Honest Trailers, was accused of sexual harassment by two former colleagues. A former intern stated that Signore made comments about masturbating to photos of her and in front of her. Another colleague stated that Signore attempted to sexually assault her with a sex toy.

A Michigan sex offender, who impregnated a 12-year-old girl when he kidnapped and raped her nearly a decade ago, was granted joint custody of their now 8-year-old child. The judge who granted custody later said he didn’t know the man was a sex offender and issued a stay on the order.

Tuesday October 10th

The New Yorker published an investigation by Ronan Farrow, which featured new allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The report featured harrowing accounts from thirteen women, who alleged that they were harassed or assaulted by the producer.

Asia Argento, a filmmaker, told The New Yorker that Weinstein once asked her to give him a massage. After reluctantly agreeing, he forced himself on her and performed oral sex on her against her wishes. She later recreated the incident in her 2000 film Scarlet Diva.

If you can’t see the video, click here.

Several more high-profile women came forward with their own allegations against Harvey Weinstein, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevingne. “I was petrified,” Paltrow said of an incident in which Weinstein placed his hands on her and suggested she massage him.

The Free Legal Advice Centres condemned the government for not abolishing civil legal aid fees for victims of domestic violence in Budget 2018. “Civil legal aid, while subsidised, is not free, even in cases of domestic violence,” they explained. “Victims of domestic violence have to pay a minimum of €130 for legal aid.”

It is FLAC’s view that the requirement for financial contributions in cases of domestic violence creates an unnecessary additional barrier for those seeking the necessary legal supports to escape violence and access protection and justice.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4 broadcaster John Humphrys suggested that “the scales have been tipped a little too far” in favour of victims in sexual assault cases. Hmm.

Wednesday October 11th

Ben Affleck was forced to apologise for groping One Tree Hill actress Hilarie Burton live on MTV’s TRL in 2003. Makeup artist Annamarie Tendler later accused Affleck of groping her at a Golden Globes party in 2014. “He walked by me, cupped my butt and pressed his finger into my crack,” she wrote on Twitter.

Thursday October 12th

Isa Hackett, producer of Amazon’s Man in the High Castle, accused Amazon executive Roy Price of sexually harassing her at Comic Con in 2015. Hackett alleges that Price propositioned her multiple times and told her, “You will love my dick.”

Rose McGowan publicly alleged that she was raped by Harvey Weinstein. It was reported last week that Weinstein reached a settlement with McGowan in 1997 following an incident in a hotel room at the Sundance Film Festival.

And so, a message to any man who thinks women are too sensitive nowadays or have developed some sort of victim complex: wake up and read the bloody news.

It’s little wonder that women are a little sensitive when we’re bombarded with stories of women being abused, harassed, raped, stalked or murdered, all with the knowledge that it could happen to any of us. It’s little wonder that women are a little sensitive when the men who perpetrate these acts are defended by acquaintances or offered second chances. It’s little wonder that women are a little sensitive when we have to listen to people blame women for being assaulted or abused. “Why didn’t you just leave him? Why didn’t you come forward immediately? Why didn’t you scream louder?”

Instead of accusing women of being too angry or sensitive nowadays, seek to understand why it is they might be feeling that way and offer a sliver of empathy. Instead of pointing out how it’s even worse for women in other countries, perhaps examine why you think women should have to make those sorts of trade-offs in the first place. Instead of taking things personally and jumping on the defensive, listen to women and their concerns.

Is that too much to ask?

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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