Regarding the whole Weinstein/#metoo business. All I can do is sigh, because that this dude and people like him in positions of power do (I doubt it’s only men, but flat out there are more men than women in positions of power so..). I know it’s not all men, but every lady I know has a story about some guy in a position of power, be it a supervisor or person who could potentially help in career, or physical power, who tried and maybe succeeded in pressuring, coercing , or straight up assaulting someone else to get what they want. We all know someone, and all women eventually has a story like that of their own. I think the screenwriter Scott Rosenberg’s response/apology was pretty apt as to why this keeps happening. Friends and people who know, work for, or benefit from that person don’t know the full scope, and write off any indecent behavior as ‘that’s how they are’. Friends don’t want to rat on friends. I am reminded of this dude I knew (as in saw around, he wasn’t a friend) who played at music festivals who was popular’ish who was busted in a child porn ring. Lots of people who were his friends and admired him jumped to his defense because they didn’t want to believe they could like someone who could do something so horrible. We like that person, enjoy their presence. Or they employ us and give us mentoring and opportunities we didn’t have access to otherwise. So they’re a little handsy, and maybe they say inappropriate things sometimes. “I can’t be friends with a monster, I’d know if they were terrible. I’m a good person and I like them so they must be good also”. Nobody ever wants to see themselves as the bad guy in their own personal narrative.
And the victims are put in an impossible position. Come out, press charges, and be called a liar or have their motivations or lifestyle questioned or lose their job/family/friends. The more power and prestige the perpetrator has, the harder it is to make a claim. What Weinstein did to lose power and prestige to make him suddenly be able to be damaged by claims of committing sexual assault/rape I can’t say (because he’s been accused many times over the years and the accusations slid off like teflon). It’s like we have to choose our personal dignity over our reputation, career, and peace of mind and risk the very real chance of not getting any justice anyway.
I’m writing about this because this is very much related to why I started painting women in the first place. To me, the problem of all of this is we (the royal cultural we) see each other not as people, not as ‘one of us’, but as other, commodity, something to be used to get what we need or want. It’s like, instead of me seeing you as a person who has feelings, needs, desires, joy, sorrow, humor, like me… instead of recognizing you are like me on your own path, I instead see a buffet. Instead I can try to manipulate you to give me money or to work for as little as I can pay you, or I can use you to get me off, or I can use you to satisfy any number of my needs or wants, because in the end only I matter and you don’t. I see this attitude constantly, all the time, this “well I got mine” line of thinking. If someone else doesn’t get theirs, or gets used, well it’s their fault. They didn’t do the right things, they didn’t defend themselves or wore the wrong thing or didn’t speak up or shouldn’t have been there. Basically, the mode if thinking is if you suffer misfortune it’s your fault. This line of thinking goes beyond sexual assault and abuse, like how Alabama congressman Mo Brooks says “People who lead good lives” don’t have preexisting conditions. So if you’re poor and you get sick, it’s because you’re a terrible person and it’s your fault and you deserve it. If you get sexually assaulted or harassed or abused, it’s because you are a terrible person and it’s your fault and you deserve it. There’s always the ‘unless’ side door though, if you’re pretty enough and the right social class in society or know or get sympathy from or are related to powerful people and your story can be spun so that you are the pretty sad victim good for TV ratings… then maybe people will pity you enough to help you or at least not blame you for your circumstances.
It’s easy enough to ‘other’ people who on the surface appear different. My personal thought is the way our culture has moved to where we talk to strangers less and go out less because of social media it’s become so much easier to live in a bubble where we can assume our uninformed ideas of the world are reality. There’s no willingness to even try to imagine walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, showing not just a complete lack of empathy, but a lack of interest in anyone other than the self. It’s like society has become a petulant child that wants to indulge itself in every way even if that means others suffer because that child can pretend that suffering isn’t real, or if it is that it doesn’t matter because hey, kid gets what it wants right?
I don’t know what I can do to get people, generally or specifically to begin to recognize the humanity in others. Each religion has some variation of the golden rule, basically ‘One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself’, aka don’t be an asshole. It only really works if it’s applied universally, not selectively. Also it only really works if people are willing to grok someone else’s experience and recognize them as valid. Like when a dude says ‘I wish women would cat call me from the street, I don’t get what the problem is’. They always imagine a woman they find attractive doing the cat calling, not someone they don’t find attractive, aggressively following them as they cat call, who could potentially do them real physical harm. The guys who think catcalling is fun don’t imagine it happening when they are trying just to go through their day, and have it happening multiple times.
… anyway, yeah TL;DR, I just wish people in general would take more time and effort to see the humanity in others, and lose the whole ‘I got mine’ attitude. All it has ever done was perpetuate the cycle of using one another.
I got other stuff to talk about, art stuff, and thoughts/photos from camping this weekend, but I’ll put those in another post.
Stay frosty my friends.