I was going to write something about the Harvey Weinstein thing, but I don’t really know what I could add. He’s a horrendous abhorrent specimen. We all know that now. And it’s great that people are coming forward and feel able to come forward, and it’s prompting some people to mention that it is rife in the theatre industry as well, an industry I love being part of. And of course it is. But nobody is saying anything. Not really.
It’s all people knowing people who have had something happen to them, all rumours and hearsay and we can’t really be sure, but I’m pretty sure this director made this actor do something against their will but we don’t really know, and if we do know we’re keeping quiet because of careers and reputations and if you’re in the know, you just know, y’know?
There’s a lot going around from respected theatricals on social media about “industry gossip” and “open secrets” about abuse that feature “big names”, and it’s a little bit scary. Now, we know that this goes on. We’re not naive about it – it’s the same in any big industry, I presume, and it’s ridiculous that it almost seems an accepted thing that we have to deal with and that’s that. But all this nose-tapping I-know-something-you-don’t-know is driving me a little bit mad.
I was going to write something about the sexual abuse of power that goes on in the theatre industry, but it seems like I would be talking to a lot of people who already know what’s going on and aren’t saying anything about it. I get that it’s difficult to come forward, to report people, the power lies in the fear and I’m not suggesting for one moment that people should be made to come forward, but this is more about the people in the know, y’know? The people who are claiming to be wise to all of these behind-closed-doors incidents and aren’t saying anything because it’s not their place… Nah, pal. Not buying it.
It might ruin your career. It might ruin their career. It’s not your story. It didn’t happen to you.
Well, it might ruin someone’s life. And you can report it without giving your name. You can put it on the record. Tell Equity anonymously. Just tell someone*.
And how must it feel for those people who it has happened to, to see all these open secrets acknowledged with a sly head nod and a knowing wink all over social media, how must they feel if one of their friends or colleagues or someone they look up to puts up something like that? Thinking that if that person had just said something, it might not have happened. Thinking that they are one of the open secrets.
And maybe I am completely and utterly wrong, but I am sick of the opinion on industry-based sexual assault being spearheaded by straight men, because they still hold the power in the entertainment industry, because if anyone knows the rumours it’s them, because if another person mentions they are against sexual assault because they have daughters I am going to hit the fucking roof.
I was going to write something about the conversation around industry-based sexual assault but I was worried it would just turn into a rant, which it is doing, but that’s fine because I have every right to be angry about the way this is being handled, everyone has the right to be angry about the way this is being talked about because it is shitty to say you know the perpetrators and not name them because it perpetuates the culture of fear where these kind of scumbags thrive, it’s great to start talking about it but if we as women as young people as people new to the industry and not in-the-know do not know who you are referring to then whatthefuck good does it do for us? How are we meant to protect ourselves? How are we meant to feel safe reporting shit like this that happens when people we know and respect and look up to won’t even do it?
If you’re going to talk about it, then fucking say something. Don’t tell us it exists, because we know it does. Don’t give us dark hints about something that happened and follow it up with a coy “I’ll never tell”.
And if you don’t want to risk it, if it’s not your story, if you’re worried about the repercussions, then for the love of god do not put it on social media. Grow the fuck up and tell someone who can do something about it.
I was going to write something about the Harvey Weinstein thing, but who the fuck would listen?
*Here’s a few places to go to if you do want to tell someone:
Equity: https://www.equity.org.uk/contact-us/equity-helpdesks/ (there are more contact details for Equity members who log into the site)
If you want to get in touch with the theatre or organisation itself, there are also quite a few websites that will allow you to send anonymous emails that you can search for on Google.