Let it be the last hand-wringing and the next reckoning

Alicen Grey points out that Harvey Weinstein is no anomaly, he is the norm.

There seems to be this unspoken rule that if you want to be a successful man, you must use women—and if you want to be a successful woman, you must be used by men. Wait, no. Scratch that. It’s not unspoken. It’s actually pretty well-known and widely accepted. It’s a culture-wide joke that women get career promotions in exchange for sexual favors. There’s even a porn genre called the “casting couch” where women are given fake job offers as a bribe for sex. When this sexual coercion is framed as consensual–funny, even—we spit in the face of every woman who has ever known the terror of being preyed upon by a man with more money, and more power, than her.

Until recently she has avoided working under men.

But recently, my life has taken a turn, and this is why the Weinstein Thing is getting to me. I just finished producing my first play, GYNX (coincidentally, it’s about castrating rapists). If you know theater, you know that every playwright’s goal is to get produced in bigger and bigger venues–so typically, your first production is self-funded or crowdfunded, or both, and then you’ve “made it” once a “real” producer decides to fund your next production. Because theater is so absurdly expensive, self-production is not a sustainable option for most emerging playwrights, particularly female ones. If you want to make it, you inevitably must go through men—either that, or drive yourself into copious amounts of debt trying to remain in total control of your art. But even then, men own the more prestigious venues and dominate most design and production teams.

Besides being a first-time playwright, the biggest reason I self-produced GYNX was to set a precedent for its future productions. Going into a field as blatantly misogynistic as theater, where sexual harassment abounds, I have chosen a gruesomely difficult path by seeking female producers and directors only–which means my play may never see the audience I think it deserves. The only other option is to trust GYNX in the hands of powerful men, and potentially get eaten alive in the process. Either way, one could argue that my choice is self-sabotaging. At the risk of sounding dramatic, there’s almost nowhere to turn where you won’t eventually have to compromise, if not totally surrender, to a man.

We need, she goes on, to come up with a strategy; just expressing outrage doesn’t change anything. We need to create our own media.

Let the Harvey Weinstein scandal be a call to arms. Let it be the last hand-wringing and the next reckoning. We need more than a handful of women making personal choices to boycott certain production companies; we need a massive movement to overhaul all media as it currently stands. We need to create solid networks of women if we are to counteract the unacceptable media system that men like Harvey Weinstein have created to denigrate us. I want us all to be so furious that it inspires real, tangible change. We will know the change is real if measurable resources—money and space, for instance—are being transferred out of the hands of abusive men and into the hands of women.

We need to seize the means of production.

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