They are stories that make you pause and think. They are stories that people did not necessarily wish to tell, but told them in the hope that they could start a conversation of change. They are stories of events that should never have happened at all.
Those stories were across Twitter using the hashtag #MeToo this past week, and were the main subject of conversation, even though the topics themselves are difficult at times to discuss. This took place as investigations in Britain and the United States continue into the film producer Harvey Weinstein, who stands accused of sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein has denied the accusations.
I scrolled through my feed and saw these stories with my own eyes. I saw stories that ranged from sexual assault to a journalist being told by a news editor that she should apply for a national newspaper job because editors liked how journalists like her looked. I read the account from the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan, who was in New York covering American political conventions at the time, who said her account was sadly typical of what women experience.
— Rajini Vaidyanathan (@BBCRajiniV) October 16, 2017
I wanted to know why – why this happened, why the actions went unchecked, and why it still remained dominant in society. Yet most of all, I wanted to know why men subject women, in journalism and in other industries, to these vile, repulsive acts in the means to exercise superiority amongst anything – and still get away with it.
Supporting and championing women
I was sad. I was angry. I was bewildered. I remember reading a story and responding to one person on Twitter, saying I was sorry, and that no one should ever be subjected to this. Yet, I know what I said may never provide the comfort or closure to those put through such heinous acts – that it will take more to change things, and that change won’t happen overnight.
Last year, I wrote on this site this declaration: “My name is Alex Veeneman. I’m a journalist, and I’m a feminist.” I did so with a nod to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who in the course of his tenure has made it okay for men to declare they are feminists without fear of being ridiculed.
“We should not be afraid of the word feminism,” Trudeau wrote in an essay last year for the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada. “Feminism is about equal rights and opportunities for men and women, about everyone having the same choices without facing discrimination based on gender. Equality is not a threat, it is an opportunity. It is an essential part of any society that wants to be a leader in sustainable development, clean economic growth, social justice, peace and security.”
In the face of the actions of Weinstein, as well as the lad culture that has become a prominent concern at many universities up and down the UK, it is important, now more than ever, that we support women and the concept of feminism.
It is important that today of all days I reiterate why I’m proud to not only be a journalist, but be a feminist, that many of my friends who pursue this work are women – and that I unequivocally back them, champion them, and root for them.
It is important that we champion them and stand up for them, and to stand beside them in the hope that together, through our work and our contributions, we can do great things.
We can and we must, not just for the sake of the career field that we look to go into, but for our own.