I love Sophie Mayer and her work and her generosity. If you’re not familiar with her, check out my interview with her, when she launched her latest book, Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema, in 2016; she is also a poet.
I endorse everything she writes in this post, originally published on Facebook.
by Sophie Mayer
So. Over the last few days, several dozen people have approached me about setting up, moderating or endorsing various kinds of closed/secret/anonymous groups or portals for disclosure of harassment and assault in the screen sector. I'm glad people are ready to talk, but here's
(a) why I think they're asking me; and
(b) why I've said no, and what I think we do instead. Take a deep breath -- I'm going long. If you like it, Paypal me.
a) I am public about being a survivor of serial sexual abuse, rape and assault.
b) Going public is not for everyone, for reasons we know; I'm not going to tell you that disclosure is empowering, but I will tell you that – having seen them in several sectors – private groups circulating information protect no-one, and especially not the most vulnerable. Cultural change doesn't depend on naming names; it's about breaking the silence in ourselves, and challenging the omertà.
a) I am a feminist film activist.
b) I have been writing about gendered violence on screen and resistance thereto for 20 years -- and I'm not alone. I'm so glad people are finally listening. You want our advice and insight? We've done the work -- Google it. Read it.
|Sophie (far left) moderating a panel at London's Korean Film Festival, Regent Street Cinema, London|
|At the Fringe Film Fest, London, Maja Borg and Jayne Parker talk with Sophie about their films Man and Almost Out photo: Bernardo Giannone|
So how, in Rebecca Solnit's phrase, do we build a 'disaster community' in the wreckage of the film industry? In ascending order of probability–
A) Are you a straight white cismale in the industry? Are you starting to rethink some past behaviours? Resign. Do you employ or work with such? Advise them to resign. If you're looking at a stack of complaints and NDAs, fire the person who caused them. Now. Because it will come out. We're coming for you. (Also: all companies and individuals that have benefited from perpetuating harassment or abuse should return all their profits, for a reparation fund for ruined lives, stalled careers and all the fucking emotional labour done by those of us who are worst affected and most exhausted).
These strategies work. But they are laborious and time-intensive and unglamorous and seem invisible. They're not. You're not. I see you.
|The Bechdel Test Fest 2016: Natalie Petrou, Simran Hans, Jenn Nkiru, Nia Childs, Charlie Oughton, Corrina Antrobus, Sophie Mayer, Tara Brown & Sophie Monks Kaufman|