Behind the scenes

Misogyny calls for action.


Claire Kosewic, Editor in Chief

When the news of Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s alleged inappropriate and unsolicited sexual advances towards several actresses became public, all I felt was frustration, as I thought to myself, “despite all this ‘progress’ we’ve made, will I ever open the newspaper and not read of misogyny?”

I was frustrated because Weinstein allegedly felt that it was appropriate to ask women to come to his hotel room and undress for him, with the rationale that “if they weren’t confident enough to undress in front of him alone, how could they ever do it in front of a camera?”

I was frustrated because almost as soon as the reports came out, a rash of the most unsupportive, judgemental comments accompanied them, describing what the victims could have done instead, and how they could have stopped the abusive cycle much earlier.

When men enter the film and television industry, they worry about the stresses of the job — if their talent will be enough, if they will be selected for career-advancing roles, if they will make it in the cutthroat business.

Women worry about everything the men worry about, and whether they will need to submit themselves to the sexual advances of their male superiors — the ones with the power to make or break their careers — in order to have any semblance of a career at all.

Luise Rainer was a breakout star in the 1930s, the first person to win two back-to-back Academy Awards. Then she allegedly refused the sexual advances of her boss, Louis B. Mayer of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer media conglomerate, and completely disappeared from the Hollywood scene.

Men hold a disproportionate amount of power in Hollywood. As 96 percent of the directors, 81 percent of the producers and 97 percent of the cinematographers, that boys’ club has power to make or break anyone’s career — especially those of women.

I was frustrated because as I sat down to write this column, someone said to me “Oh that’s a good topic for a girls’ school newspaper to address.” I wanted to scream, “Why is this just a topic for a girls’ school newspaper to address?”

The accusations against Weinstein are a microcosm of the misogyny that plagues popular culture, politics and professional environments. It also provides a forum for discussion about what can be done to minimize these harmful behaviors.

I’m done with reading about issues like these day after day. I’m empowered and ready to take action. But, I can’t do that without the everyone’s help — guys included. So, I bring this issue to my father, my brothers, my male friends, my male coaches and my male teachers. Are you with me?

My hands are pretty much tied, because as the editor-in-chief of a girls’ high school newspaper, I’m preaching to the choir. But with a united front of men and women, we’ll make things happen.