Protest vs. ha­rass­ment

Sun.Star Cebu - - SHOW -

Armed with signs, catchy phrases and a mo­ti­va­tion to take #MeToo be­yond the in­ter­net and into real life, a few hun­dred women, men and chil­dren gath­ered Sun­day among the sex shops and tourist traps of Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard to protest sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

The Take Back the Work­place March and the #MeToo Sur­vivors March joined forces in the heart of Hol­ly­wood, near the en­trance to the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards take place. They walked side by side past the tourists, cos­tume shops, strip clubs and a man wear­ing a “Whiskey Made Me Do It” T-shirt to gather for a rally of rous­ing speeches from the likes of Har­vey We­in­stein ac­cuser Lau­ren Si­van and Os­car-win­ning pro­ducer Cathy Schul­man.

“Not in pots, not in plants, keep your junk inside your pants,” the crowd chanted for a few min­utes, be­fore shift­ing gears to: “Har­vey We­in­stein is a joke; women work­ers just got woke.” Other chants in­cluded, “Sur­vivors united, we’ll never be di­vided” and “What­ever we wear, wher­ever we go, ‘yes’ means ‘yes’ and ‘no’ means ‘no.’”

Some came with their fam­i­lies; some came with friends, and at­ten­dees ranged in age from four to over 68.

Ais­linn Rus­sell, a 15-year-old Los An­ge­les high school stu­dent, came with two peers and signs rail­ing against terms like “friend zone” and “slut.” “See­ing the #metoo move­ment grow­ing and see­ing all these peo­ple telling their sto­ries, I have my own sto­ries too,” Rus­sell said. “I want to join in with that and not be silent with ev­ery­thing go­ing on.” Her sign, drawn in pink and pur­ple block let­ters read: “‘Slut’ is at­tack­ing women for their right to say yes.” Her friend’s read: ”‘Friend Zone’ is at­tack­ing women for their right to say no.”

An­other at­tendee, Nancy Allen, a 52-year-old woman from Los An­ge­les, car­ried a sign that read, “I was 7.” “We’ve been silent too long,” Allen said. “A lot of peo­ple have kept this inside us for years and years.”

Event or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mated there were about 200 to 300 at­ten­dees. But they also ac­knowl­edged that it was “dif­fi­cult to tell” with the nor­mal Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard crowds.

The crowd walked about a mile to the corner of Sun­set Boule­vard and Cole, the site of CNN head­quar­ters, where a podium was set up for the Take Back the Work­place rally.

Si­van, a TV jour­nal­ist who al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment from We­in­stein and served as the “celebrity chair” of the Take Back the Work­place event, said that the time is ripe for a re-or­der­ing of power.

“We want our daugh­ters and sons to be able to go to a work­place and never have to take a meet­ing with a dude in a bathrobe,” Si­van said. “They will never have to choose to put out or keep their job.”

Schul­man, who pre­sides over the ad­vo­cacy group Women in Film, told the crowd that the sex­ual ha­rass­ment prob­lem can’t be fixed by just weeding out sex crim­i­nals. Women, she said, have to be pro­tected from prej­u­dice and abuse. Schul­man called for di­ver­si­fy­ing work­places and re­form­ing hu­man re­sources de­part­ments.

Al­though there were not many celebrity at­ten­dees on site, some sup­ported the marches on so­cial me­dia.

Schul­man’s or­ga­ni­za­tion an­nounced that it is set­ting up a sex­ual ha­rass­ment hot­line where vic­tims can call for pro-bono le­gal coun­sel­ing and ad­vice. The hot­line is ex­pected to be oper­a­tional by Dec. 1.

“I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced gen­der bias, salary im­par­ity. I’ve been yelled at, dis­re­spected. I’ve had credit taken from me, I’ve had money stolen from me. I’ve been bankrupted twice and much worse. And I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen ev­ery bit of ha­rass­ment and ev­ery bit of these sex crimes. How­ever, I’ve pro­duced 20 movies. I’ve su­per­vised over 150 movies. I’ve won an Academy Award. I’ve even raised a 17-year-old daugh­ter,” Schul­man said. “Do not let them de­stroy us. We can win this war. It’s a game. It’s a game of power that we can win.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.