Sexual violence is a massive silent epidemic that has spread across all sectors and aspects of the world. The likelihood is that if you have not been affected by this directly you will know at least one person you has. This silent epidemic has recently had its silence broken in both Hollywood and Westminster, but both institutions have had different responses. Scrolling through Twitter the other day, a tweet from Jess Phillips stood out: ‘While Weinstein faces charges and career death Trump roams the Whitehouse. While the BBC drops those accused, Damian Green stands in at PMQs. Politics thinks it has a different standard and the same wheel keeps on turning #Metoo’.
This, for me, encapsulates the whole issue surrounding the Westminster Sex Scandal – the fact that power and position still win over those brave enough to go public with their horrific experiences. (A small disclaimer that at the time of writing, Damian Green has been proved neither guilty or innocent regarding the harassment claims and as such no judgement will be made surrounding his case).
In Westminster there is still a blame culture, still a patriarchy that rules over the estate. It seems prevalent that during a time with a female Prime Minister there are few actions that are truly working to tackle this culture. Whilst I have stated that I am not going to make any judgement on Green’s case, it seems shocking to see his allies trying to twist the case into something completely different to what it is. Theresa May has had little option but to tolerate this because of the internal politics of her party and Westminster as a whole – yet internal politics should not matter. When women and men claim to be treated in such an assaulting and demeaning way we need to look and judge the issue as it is and not be influenced by internal politics and power.
Hollywood has learnt this. The Kevin Spacey case is a clear example of how powerful people can easily lose their respect and power if we allow it. What is great is how the team behind House of Cards have used this case to enrich and inspire others around the world by continuing the series without Spacey. It proves that the world will not end by getting rid of the abusers that are in the public eye. Westminster needs to learn that for every abuser there are many more people who can do their job – and that the world will not stop spinning.
We are at a watershed moment where Westminster can either change its ways and become a place where speaking out is OK or can stay the same. The Time Magazine People of the Year shows that Hollywood is changing and becoming more tolerant and supportive. The inclusion of Taylor Swift – who spoke out in 2014 – shows how far the industry has come in 3 years. Yet Westminster shows no sign of changing. Instead, it believes it can brush the accusations off and still continue. However for politics to stay credible and relevant – it needs to change and stop being an all boys club.
Photo Credit: Liverpool Echo