According to a recent study, individuals who are sexually harassed in the film and TV industry face a difficult situation where they are both encouraged to come forward and speak out, but also face negative consequences for doing so.
According to the study, certain women have claimed that the industry has become more hazardous as a result of the #MeToo movement. This is because victims may feel compelled to reveal their experiences of abuse, but may subsequently face consequences or mistreatment.
The study, Is it Safe to Speak Up? Addressing Sexual Harassment in the UK Film and Television Industry After #MeToo, discovered that there are still no official protocols in place to hold offenders accountable, and there is insufficient support for those who have been victimized.
Dr. Anna Bull, a senior lecturer at York University and the author of the study, stated that victims often face negative consequences such as inappropriate jokes about the #MeToo movement or being ostracized from certain circles.
According to the speaker, in certain situations, men may exhibit aggressive behavior due to their frustration with the loss of a sexualized work environment, which they believed was their right to enjoy. This can manifest as resentful attitudes towards women or targeted bullying and humiliation based on gender.
Bull, who has studied sexual misconduct in both universities and classical music, stated that the film and TV industry displays a much more obvious display of sexism and sexual misconduct. This is especially evident among well-known actors and presenters, who are among the most guilty parties.
The speaker noted that there is a culture in which exposing oneself is used as a means of seeking attention, shocking others, and exerting power over them.
Despite Bull’s discovery that certain, mostly younger, individuals in the field were more knowledgeable of what qualifies as sexual misconduct, chauvinistic beliefs continued to be prevalent among male authorities.
The report is based on conversations with 18 individuals from various fields within the industry, such as high-end drama, documentary, reality television, and journalism. These individuals have either personally experienced or spoken out about instances of sexual violence and harassment since December 2017. Among the group are 17 women and one man, including producers, researchers, production assistants, journalists, and an actor.
Five individuals who were interviewed reported experiencing sexual violence, such as indecent exposure, sexual assault, and rape. These individuals described being touched inappropriately, forcibly kissed, and subjected to sexualized behavior while at work or work-related functions. One of the interviewees was raped by a person she had met at a work event. Environments that posed a higher risk for such incidents included work-related social gatherings, on-location filming, and industry events.
Many individuals interviewed expressed worries about the unclear lines between their professional and personal lives, particularly since building connections is considered crucial for achieving success. A few shared instances where their employer had offered complimentary drinks, leading to instances of sexual harassment or assault.
According to Bull, alcohol and illegal drugs were made to seem normal, and jokes with sexual themes were frequently made.
A woman named Sienna, who was sexually assaulted by a man at a business event overseas last year, expressed her concern about the lack of rules and accountability in such spaces. She questioned whether she constantly needs to be cautious about avoiding rape, drugging, or assault at every event she attends.
The female individual, who is in her late 20s, stated: “There have been improvements and declines. I believe there has not been a significant turning point like the #MeToo movement and its aftermath. Many concerning behaviors are still hidden and shielded from past years.”
Many individuals who were interviewed stated that they had not encountered any methods or programs aimed at addressing sexual misconduct in the organizations they were employed by within the last six years.
Vanessa, a former broadcast journalist, left her career due to experiencing sexual harassment from a male coworker in a senior position. She was dissatisfied with the company’s response to the situation.
After leaving, she finally felt comfortable making an informal complaint. This was after she learned that another woman in the company had also experienced inappropriate behavior from the same man.
Vanessa expressed that she had been carrying a weight of responsibility that should have been handled by more experienced individuals for a significant amount of time. This led to others expecting her to speak out on certain issues. However, she believes that there has been a shift in societal attitudes towards sexual misconduct and its complexities. She does not feel that this change is reflected in the beliefs of higher-level management, though.
The creator of the Instagram page Shit Men in TV Have Said to Me, Dawn Elrick, has received numerous anonymous submissions exposing the sexual harassment experienced by women in the industry. She acknowledges that minimal efforts have been made to address this issue.
According to the speaker, there are men in top positions at major broadcasting companies who have faced multiple serious complaints, whether through personal accounts, official reports, or widely known information. These men have primarily targeted young female researchers who are new to the industry. Despite this, they are still employed by these companies.
According to Elrick, a television director and producer, there is a societal expectation for women to identify and report those who have harmed them, but it remains ambiguous as to where they should seek help in taking action.
“I have submitted grievances to Bectu, the trade union, and the BBC. However, I was informed that, since the complaints were anonymous, no action could be taken. Therefore, the responsibility falls on me and those who have experienced sexism to address the issue.”