And we are back. Yearned for a conclusion? Yes! Okay then, let us dive right into it, shall we?
FORCED SEXUAL LABOUR
“Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.”
— Albus Dumbledore
According to the International Labour Organisation’s Policy Brief On Sexual Harassment In The Entertainment Industry, the Violence and Harassment Recommendation of 2019 (No. 206) included the entertainment sectors and occupations as being particularly exposed to a lot of violence and harassment. Against this background, the brief analysed trends and patterns of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, and it provided a clear picture of necessary as well as relevant laws and other means to protect workers in the industry (feel free to catch up on that later).
A lot of people place heavy judgements on women in the entertainment industry in regards to her body, her sexuality, etc. It is unfortunate that so many people till today cannot for some reason seem to understand that for a lot of these starlets, sex is a power they hold but not a power they share willingly. Even if it looks like it is “given freely” I can assure you (that is, if they are truly honest with themselves) it is rarely given freely. When it comes to sex and the entertainment industry it tends to hold the highest power in terms of currency and a form of emotional blackmail that unfortunately binds starlets to their abusers, molesters, predators (I have more colourful terms and names I would like to use, but just use your imagination for now. All I can say is a sailor would be proud of me making it a repeated cycle of shame and regret dangerously hidden behind tired eyes and a megawatt smile (truly being an actress 24/7). So here is a term a lot of people may struggle to grasp, but bear with me, I will do my best to explain and make it as brief as possible.
The term is VOLUNTARY RAPE. Yes, I said what I said. Picture this – your dream, your goal, every fibre of your body, mind and soul tells you that the limelight, action and camera are all yours because you are talented, witty and can give the performance of your life if only someone gives you a chance. So you go to one director or his friend, one producer, etc. (so many kinks and links in the chain) and for each place you have been to (with dwindling resources, a clouded mind and a broken heart) it is the same thing over and over again: the disgusting bold stroke of your thigh; the sudden caught off-guard forced slobbering reptilian kisses; the badgering request for an immediate quickie right there on the spot; the just- give-me-two minutes let me enter, it will be quick; the come to my guest house or meet me at this hotel; the let me see or just touch what is underneath your skirt; the goosebump-inducing skin crawling grazing with eyes and hand over your body without your permission (I know your skin is crawling just by reading this, now imagine it really happening to you) making you feel naked, violated and appalled every time. For every no you give and move on to try again, it repeats. If you are unlucky, you fall victim of the horrendous ‘RnB’, also known as Rape and Beg, where a person is raped then begged or bribed (call it what you will) with expensive gifts or a position they wanted, or money. If your mind doesn’t break then, it just keeps piling till you eventually break and give in to the mental health pressures. Imagine all of this, added to the fact that your family needs to be fed, bills are starting to break you, hunger twists and turns you so bad at night your screams are painfully silent yet loud. Imagine all of that…what do you think happens next? In the bid to escape it all and somehow find solace in the fact that, at least, you can be part of your dreams even if it is for a short time, you give in: give in to the disgusting behaviours; give in to wearing a fake smile till your head hurts, your teeth gnash to the core and your eyes are painfully dry from forcing yourself not to cry or relive every painful, voluntary rape over and over again. Ah, I know many will say: she could have said no, she had a choice, it’s just an excuse, but ask yourself truly and deeply, did she? Yes, she is now famous and popular but is she truly whole? Is she truly happy? How many pills does she take at night to block her mind, shut out the noise just to get an hour of sleep and repeat the next day while asking herself each time someone looks at her lustfully or “forces themselves on her” with her supposed voluntary permission …was it really worth it?
I suggest people start seeing mental health issues as part of the problem caused by unrelenting abhorrent behaviours of producers, directors, sponsors, etc., in using sex as a bargaining tool.
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Lemony Snicket
For years the media have been part of the problem in fueling negative perspectives or points of view in how starlets are treated. Growing up and immersing myself in the media as part of my studies and hobbies, I was taught that when it comes to information, bad news is good news and good news is bad news; for example, when a dog bites a man, that is not news, but when a man bites a dog, now that is news
With age and a lot of personal development came the acceptance and responsibility to truly see beneath what the media shows, and as much as people would say how can I criticise the industry that feeds me, the most important question is, how can I not? One’s unrelenting love for something or someone does not mean turning a blind eye, or two, away from the negative impression made and left behind by my predecessors. I do understand why the tactic is implemented because even without physical forms of the media, at our core, as humans, we tend to share bad news faster than good news because … who doesn’t like a little drama here and there, especially if it is not directly tied to them; but here is the scoop: we are all connected whether we like it, want it or believe it. Negative blowback on women in the entertainment industry actually affects all women, and here is why:
• She is the fantasy a man or men want to keep and devour.
• She becomes a symbol, or what a narcissist believes as a symbol, of perfect woman.
• Her body is a toy and should be objectified.
• She should suck it up, not complain, and smile her way into an oblivion.
And so much more, because she has been made to fit into unrealistic standards showcased, forced and implemented. Now other women are expected to be the same. You, your daughters, sisters, granddaughters, girlfriends, mistresses, etc., are now expected to accept being treated badly, breaking their mental health simply because if she, a celebrity, can take it, why can’t you? Angry yet? Hurt yet? Confused yet? Yes? Now ask yourself why? Why hasn’t this been talked about more? Why hasn’t this stopped even in today so-called civilised society? Why the backlash?
For me, the answer is simple really, and has been for a very long time, and it is the fact that women in entertainment must understand, or be forced to understand, that they are simply the entertainment, whether twenty Millenia ago or today. It’s a narcissistic train of thought that continues to cause even aliens in another planet to roll their eyes and think of us as nothing but base savages (watch Sci-fi – a.k.a. scientific fiction – shows to get the gist), even animals treat their women better (you get the picture, right? I hope so). One day these questions will be answered properly and honestly. I guess, till then sit, stew and ponder on what you just read.
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
— Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh
This will be brief. This section is an ode to the many women who have bravely come forward to say ‘I Will No Longer Be A Victim’ – the Me-Too queens; the unrelenting amazons of human rights and social justice within and around the entertainment industry; the women unashamed to say ‘my mind is broken but I am working on it’; these women matter so much and must be protected because, in the long run, their lives and lessons will help others to be stronger, to see the light, to fight back, to have a voice and to want more for themselves and those coming after them. Representation matters; it must continue to matter thousands of years after we are gone, because as much as we understand that negative things happen, we must be fearless and fierce in letting people know that amongst us, or them, there is something positive that can, and must, be born, protected and developed out of all the mental pain and hurt – that there is HOPE. I sincerely hope the media does better from now on, just like we are doing at this very moment…one article at a time.
SEEK HELP: TALK IT OUT, TALK MORE
“Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone.” – Lisa Olivera
This is an open letter to the women in entertainment, wherever, whoever you are. I cannot say I know it all; I cannot say I truly and fully understand; I cannot say I am sorry enough, but what I can say is that if this is you – that you are the one going through the mental anguish of not being seen, heard or understood – I see you, I hear you, I understand you and I hope one day, when you are ready ( take all the time you need) that you will do yourself the honour of no longer being a victim, that you will do yourself the honour of seeking help, of speaking your truth without the fear of being judged, without feeling naked and exposed, without feeling like no one can help you. I hope that you truly seek the help you need regardless of what anyone thinks or wants to say. I know it will not be easy today, but with time you must take the right step towards breaking your mind from mental slavery so that your heart and body can be at peace without death, but, like a phoenix reborn from the ashes, more beautiful, powerful and glorious than ever before. Your mental freedom starts now.
TAKE TIME TO HEAL
“I cannot stand the words ‘Get over it’. All of us are under such pressure to put our problems in the past tense. Slow down. Don’t allow others to hurry your healing. It is a process, one that may take years, occasionally, even a lifetime, and that’s OK.”
— Beau Taplin
I hope, somehow, I have convinced you and not confused you that sometimes your humanity must come first, especially when judging women in entertainment. I do not claim to be their spokesperson but someone lending a voice in changing the negative (narrative pushed for years) into a more positive, enlightening and uplifting one – where more conversations can be born from.
In the great words of Looney Tunes ending in Daffy Duck’s voice, that’s all folks.