One Weird Trick for Helping Women | The FREQ Show 01.04

We have an epidemic of highly-respected figures in Hollywood getting away with sexual assault. [crickets] I want to make sure you pay attention to this. One second. [drum roll] Bros. We have an epidemic of highly-respected figures in Hollywood and they’re getting away with sexual assault! [O.S.] Oh no! What?! We need to DO something! Now do you believe us? Hey! What do you say you and me go on an little time travel adventure. We’re gonna hop in the Internet Wayback Machine and go all the way back to the distant past of a few weeks ago, where we found some online records indicating that in early October of 2017, a website called “Buzzfeed” published a barnburner of a story. Entitled “Alt-White: How the Breitbart Machine Laundered Racist Hate,” the piece blows the lid off the internal workings of Breitbart “News.” It’s a meticulously-researched story that has plenty of evidence in the form of emails and other internal documents to prove that Breitbart actively and intentionally worked to bring white nationalist ideas into the mainstream. Reaction to the story has been strong, with some people lamenting that we should have seen the signs. We should have done something to stop these racist ideas from being smuggled into the mainstream political discourse. Yes. If only someone had seen the signs. In fact, not a single thing in the Buzzfeed story should be a surprise to anyone. People did see the signs. Many people. Those of us who have been targeted by white supremacist movements have said for years that Breitbart is a driving force behind the mainstreaming of white supremacy. The Buzzfeed article accurately describes GamerGate as “the opening salvo of the new culture wars.” Though personally, I like to describe it as a waking nightmare, on par with a clown convention or 24-hour Nickelback marathon. “GamerGate involves some male gamers harassing women who are speaking out about the portrayal of women in video games. Presumably after the initial shock that women were speaking to them at all.” During that horrifying and destructive temper tantrum of weaponized white male rage, this is just one of the incredibly racist images that was circulated on the internet to drum up anger and fuel harassment against me. And this is hardly limited to me. Ask any woman with white privilege who’s been harassed online and without a doubt, they will stories about the incredibly ugly and vile anti-semitism woven into the attacks against them– whether they are Jewish or not. It’s a consistent through line in online harassment strategies. So, yeah, I’d say the signs that white nationalism was deliberately being cultivated as a core component of the alt-right were pretty fucking obvious. So many women, people of color, queer and trans folks were viciously targeted, harassed, and threatened by the loose coalition of forces that became GamerGate — way before that particular movement even took shape. The dehumanizing and dangerous strains of racism and misogyny that fueled it were apparent to all of us. And we spoke out! Loudly, and clearly, and repeatedly. But nothing changed. We watched in disbelief as Milo Yiannopolous got 6 figure book deals and was chummy with Bill Maher on HBO despite his history of drumming up mobs that targeted feminists; spouting the most vile, racist insults imaginable at black women; and outing trans people with the intent of destroying their lives. A tiny fraction of this should have been enough to bring him down, but it wasn’t. None of it was. It wasn’t until statements he’d made supporting pedophilia came to light that he started to be shunned. Apparently, all the women, people of color and trans folks he’d mercilessly attacked up until that point just didn’t matter enough. We also watched in horror as Breitbart News which had been a driving force behind GamerGate, seamlessly morphed into being a driving force behind Trump’s presidential campaign, relying on the exact same brand of racist, sexist, provocation that they had relied on before. If all of us were speaking out about these things, why wasn’t anything being done? Well, we live in culture in which men are given the benefit of the doubt; in which men’s voices are considered authoritative, rational, and true. And in which, far too often, what women say is given little weight. We’re dismissed as emotional, or hysterical, It’s as if women are canaries in our cultural coal mine, meant to discover where our culture is particularly toxic by suffering from the poisonous fumes of misogyny. It’s only after we cry out long enough, and loud enough, about how awful it is that finally, someone else, a man, notices and says something. That’s when people actually start to take action. But we’re not your fucking canaries! We’re people with our own voices that deserve to be heard. Consider the Bill Cosby rape case. This is an instance of a powerful man who sexually harassed and raped women for decades and how the allegations of those women were ignored despite an ever-increasing number of them over the years. It wasn’t until male comedian Hannibal Burress called Cosby a rapist during a stand up routine that the allegations started to get the attention that they deserve. As it turns out, the very same day the Buzzfeed story broke, another story made massive waves. “Now to the latest on Harvey Weinstein: The New York Times is reporting allegations by numerous women who say the Hollywood mogul sexually harassed them.” This story should have made waves decades ago, but Weinstein has leveraged his wealth and power to silence those who might have spoken out against him. That’s not to say that no women have any power or influence in these systems. An incredibly established, highly-respected actor like Meryl Streep, for instance, may have been able to bring serious consequences down on a predator like Weinstein. But predators like Weinstein don’t go after the powerful. They prey on those who have no power. Those just starting out. Those with everything to lose. As former Weinstein employee Lauren O’Connor wrote in a telling memo that pinpointed our cultural problem, “I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me:0; Harvey Weinstein: 10.” In so many spheres of life, the claims of women are routinely ignored or dismissed. Or men use their power to keep women from speaking up in the first place. If you want to start putting a stop to sexual predators and rapists before they spend decades assaulting women; if you want to help curtail dangerous and deadly political movements before they take root in the White House, there’s a pretty simple first step: START LISTENING TO WOMEN. Thank you for watching, please share The FREQ Show with all of your friends, and remember: your donations are what help us keep going.

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