Everyone Knew: Male Violence & Celebrity Culture, by @LK_Pennington

Cross-posted from: Everyone Knew
Originally published: 30.11.17

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Everyone knew.

We hear this over and over and over again. Every single time a male actor, athlete, musician, artist, politician, chef (and the list goes on) are alleged to be perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence and abuse, the refrain is “oh, everyone knew”.

‘Everyone knew’ about the multiple allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein; allegations that go back decades. Yet, no one (read men) in positions of power followed even the most basic protection regulations and laws around sexual harassment.

Everyone also ‘knew’ about Jimmy Savile’s predatory behaviour to children and women. Despite multiple allegations made to numerous people supposedly responsible for child protection and multiple reports to police, the media still didn’t want to publish the clear evidence of Savile’s sexually predatory behaviour even after he died. Everyone knew; no one talked.

In the weeks since The New Yorker published Ronan Farrow’s well-evidenced article into Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexualised violence, there has been a plethora of new allegations about Weinstein, but also what is beginning to feel like the majority of men in Hollywood, politics, sports and music.

This includes, but is no way limited to:

I had been tracking famous and powerful men with histories of domestic and sexual violence on my personal blog using the tag #DickheadDetox. The origins came from an article by Eva Wiseman in the Guardian about holding violent male celebrities accountable:

“It’s to do with my problem giving money to dicks, to people who’ve punched their wives or broken their teeth. It’s to do with linking the things they’ve done to the things they’ve made. It’s a rule I’m currently formalising – I’m turning off the TV when abusers appear. I’m leaving shops where their songs dribble from the PA; I’m turning off the radio. Like a juice cleanse. A dickhead detox. And it feels good.”

I’ve been trying to boycott abusive men for years, but it is so difficult when they are protected from the real consequences of their behaviour by those who value profit over the safety of women and children. You only have to look at the careers of Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. And, now, Harvey Weinstein.

The sheer number of allegations and the multiple perpetrators named in the past few months make it difficult to keep track.  This is why Everyone Knew was born.    There were just too many men. And, a huge discrepancy in which men are being held accountable: Casey Affleck and James Franco were effectively uninvited from the 2018 Oscars because of allegations of sexual violence against women. Yet Gary Oldman was not only invited, he won the third most coveted award of the evening (Best Picture and Best Director) despite a history of domestic violence agains multiple partners (and a history of racism).

The list isn’t exhaustive and I can’t keep up with all the allegations being made. But, I needed to do this list. So, we can stop talking about ‘isolated incidents’ and ‘everyone knew’. To at least try to ensure that men’s violence against women and girls is recognised. So men like Christopher Plummer, with his own history of violence, isn’t considered a replacement to a man fired for his own history of violence; in this case Kevin Spacey. And, men like Matt Damon no longer gets to pontificate on what is ‘real’ abuse, whilst protecting Casey Affleck from the consequences of his actions.

 

Everyone Knew cannot remain a way to erase men’s responsibility for their criminal choices. Those who choose to support these men also need to be held accountable. This list, clearly, won’t change the world, but naming these men is a first step.

 

Further Reading:

Ronan Farrow, From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories, (The New Yorker, Oct. 2017)

Ronan Farrow, Harvey Weinstein’s Secret Settlements, (The New Yorker. Nov.2017

Swimming with Sharks: Sexual Predators in the Music Industry by Rachel Grace Almeida  via @broadly

Megan Twohey et al. Weinstein’s Complicity Machine, (The New York Times, Dec.2017)

Beth Winegarner, “Weinstein Isn’t The Only One: Screen Celebs Who Abuse Women or Children” (Medium, Oct. 2017

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