Big Netflix fans likely know Brit Marling as the lead actress from The OA. But she wasn’t just the star — she also created and wrote the mysterious sci-fi show.
So when she decided to go public with her story of being brought under false pretenses to the hotel room of Harvey Weinstein, the result was a thoughtful piece about society as a whole.
And, as she points out, the “meeting” was all too familiar a story:
“I, too, went to the meeting thinking that perhaps my entire life was about to change for the better. I, too, was asked to meet him in a hotel bar. I, too, met a young, female assistant there who said the meeting had been moved upstairs to his suite because he was a very busy man. I, too, felt my guard go up but was calmed by the presence of another woman my age beside me. I, too, felt terror in the pit of my stomach when that young woman left the room and I was suddenly alone with him. I, too, was asked if I wanted a massage, champagne, strawberries. I, too, sat in that chair paralyzed by mounting fear when he suggested we shower together.”
Thankfully, as Brit says in her essay, she had been in Hollywood long enough to have recognized the paths she did not want to go down, and she was able to get out of there:
“I was able to gather myself together├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥a bundle of firing nerves, hands trembling, voice lost in my throat├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥and leave the room. I later sat in my hotel room alone and wept. I wept because I had gone up the elevator when I knew better. I wept because I had let him touch my shoulders. I wept because at other times in my life, under other circumstances, I had not been able to leave.”
Those types of circumstances many women face are ultimately what Brit wants to talk about.
“I’m telling this story because in the heat surrounding these brave admissions, it’s important to think about the economics of consent. Weinstein was a gatekeeper who could give actresses a career that would sustain their lives and the livelihood of their families. He could also give them fame, which is one of few ways for women to gain some semblance of power and voice inside a patriarchal world. They knew it. He knew it. Weinstein could also ensure that these women would never work again if they humiliated him. That’s not just artistic or emotional exile├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥that’s also economic exile.”
Speaking of streaming sci-fi, if you thought The Handmaid’s Tale couldn’t happen just look backward a bit:
“It’s important, too, to keep in mind where this power imbalance comes from. In the U.S., women were only allowed to have credit cards in their own names as of 43 years ago. Men had a two-decade head start (the credit card was invented in 1950). In the 1960s a woman needed to bring a man along to cosign any credit application. It’s stunning how recently women were afforded no financial autonomy. This is, of course, connected to the fact that women didn’t have bodily autonomy either. A woman’s husband could beat her or have sex with her without her consent in this country with no real legal recourse until the 1970s.
How horrifying is that? Just think about those facts every time Donald Trump says “Make America Great AGAIN.”
“For me, this all distills down to the following: The things that happen in hotel rooms and board rooms all over the world (and in every industry) between women seeking employment or trying to keep employment and men holding the power to grant it or take it away exist in a gray zone where words like “consent” cannot fully capture the complexity of the encounter. Because consent is a function of power. You have to have a modicum of power to give it. In many cases women do not have that power because their livelihood is in jeopardy and because they are the gender that is oppressed by a daily, invisible war waged against all that is feminine├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥women and humans who behave or dress or think or feel or look feminine.”
Brit views this as a much larger problem than just Harvey, than just Hollywood. She says:
“It’s not these bad men. Or that dirty industry. It’s this inhumane economic system of which we are all a part. As producers and as consumers.”
So what’s the solution?
In general, Marling believes part of the solution must come from women closing the pay gap and thus the disparity in economic power:
“This means that, in part, stopping sexual harassment and abuse will involve fighting for wage parity. This also means women and men in power need to turn around and hire more women, especially women of color, especially women who have not grown up with economic privilege.”
You can read Brit’s entire take on the situation HERE.
[Image via FayesVision/Ivan Nikolov/WENN.]