I recently watched the new documentary on Gloria Allred on Netflix (Seeing Allred), and it has opened my eyes. This may seem like a pretty bold statement, but for someone who is relatively clued up on women’s issues and how women are still oppressed, I didn’t think anything could really shock me. I was wrong.
In case you’ve never heard of Allred, she is an American human rights lawyer, who has had many well-known cases on women’s issues. She defeated Trump in 2012, when she challenged Miss Universe’s rules on Transgender women, and is currently representing 11 women claiming Trump sexually assaulted them. She is also currently representing at least 28 women in their accusations against Bill Cosby. She is a strong, accomplished advocate for women’s rights. She is well-known, and if you watch the documentary you can see how supportive of women she really is.
The thing is though, it seems that men still seem to think that women go to Allred because they’re more likely to win. I was shocked when watching the documentary to see men such as Jimmy Kimmel joking about Allred’s clients, saying that they only go to her because of the thought of the money at the end.
Now, of course there is some logic in their thinking – no one enters into a court case without the goal of winning; but women who are beginning court cases surrounding their sexual assault and/or rape cases aren’t going in there thinking of the money. Instead they are going in there thinking of getting justice. The women in the Bill Crosby case have gone to Allred because she will get them some justice, and will change things for the future. Not for the money.
It is difficult for men to fully relate to women, they have not had the same experiences, of catcalling, general sexist injustice, and fewer experience sexual assault, according to government statistics. So to say that Allred’s clients go to her because there is an increased likelihood of winning money is wrong. They go to her because she is part of the sisterhood, and given her own experiences of sexual assault, wants to get justice. There is an oversimplification that lawyers are only in it to get the money, and whilst I’m not entirely naïve and recognise that Allred earns a lot of money (a quick Google says she has a net worth of $20 million) it is evident within the documentary that she cares about her clients.
Jimmy Kimmel and others saying that her clients are in it for the money discredits their stories. It infers that money is the main motivation for her clients, and that justice is of little concern. To me, their jokes about Allred just show why women do not come forward enough, and highlights the real patriarchies and sexism in Hollywood and general society today.
Allred’s clients are extremely brave, I admire them just as much as I admire Allred. Allred’s success is a credit and an example for women, she shows young girls that they can be successful and change the world. But the attitudes of men towards her and her clients says to young girls that their experiences may not be respected in the wider world, that they will be laughed down. The Netflix documentary is great – it introduced me to a new feminist icon, but it also provided me with challenge and disappointment in the sexism within this world today. We need to think about how we approach the motives behind women speaking out a bit more, and how that can be sexist too, we need to be congratulating them and advocating justice – not questioning them.
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