The Conspiracy of Silence #MeToo

This whole Harvey Weinstein scandal makes me sick, just like the Bill Cosby one has made me sick and Donald Trump’s way with women makes me sick. Why do Cosby’s and Weinstein’s careers go down the drain over this but is Trump still president? Anyway, I don’t want to write about them specifically but I do want to do my part in addressing this so that it can be stopped.

I saw the interview Emma Thompson gave, addressing how normal sexual harassment really is for all women from a young age onwards (she mentions this at around 3:10 into the video) and she calls this Weinstein scandal a ‘conspiracy of silence’ for not being exposed sooner (around 5:20)…

I found that an interesting phrase, ‘the conspiracy of silence’, and find myself trying to come to terms with the fact why we don’t speak up about this more when we encounter it. I find it’s not a malicious conspiracy, it’s more a conspiracy of shame and fear, but the fact is that it’s not normal to speak up about this. I, too, am not one to call out others when for example a comment with sexual innuendo is made that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. I will speak up against gross misconduct but there are so many comments that are just borderline where I wonder ‘should I say something or am I just being overly sensitive?’ and then I shut up. I was in such a borderline situation not too long ago when I thought ‘ah, but it’s just a joke, I’ll let it go and change the subject quickly.’ I struggle with that and it’s something that this scandal has brought more to the foreground for me.

Yesterday the hashtag #MeToo started trending and I added my name to that…

me too tweet

… and today, on my way to work, I read Guylty’s blog post about the issue and that really struck me too. I am not pretty or an actor either and yet I too have experienced instances of sexual harassment. What I have experienced is by far not as bad as many other women’s experiences but it’s symptomatic nonetheless! I wasn’t planning on going into detail about what has happened to me, but Guylty’s post and that “conspiracy of silence” phrase made me think that maybe I should just come out and speak of my experiences.

The funny thing is that when I thought about this, one incident that really shook me came to mind and I thought, ‘well, it’s not been bad for me, I only experienced that one thing’. But then, once that memory was unlocked, other memories started coming in and I realized that apparently I had pushed them away before. I also realized that, from an early age on, I had always been warned by my mother that most men basically only want one thing so that I always had to be careful with how I act and what I wear so as not to attract any unwanted attention. I hate that. I hate that women are told to be careful and that for men it’s a “ah, boys will be boys” attitude.

The incident that really shook me most of all  happened when I was 19. My dad was general secretary of an international organization and organized a big 4 day conference every summer, with people coming in from countries all over the world. To make a little money, we brothers and sisters often helped with organizing. That summer the conference was in Southampton and one evening I went out with a group of other conference participants to a local pub. Incidentally, it’s also the first time I ever tried Guinness beer (and hated it). Anyway, I was with a group of 9 or 10 people and at one point I said I’d pick up some drinks at the bar. There was a man sitting on a bar stool next to where I stood to order my drinks. While I was waiting for my turn to order he tried to chat me up. I was 19 and really not so used to flirting, so I tried to stay friendly and smile, but said no to whatever he suggested (he wanted me to come sit with him, he wanted to buy me a drink and he said some other things I can’t recall). Then, out of the blue, he grabbed me, pulled me towards him and what I remember most were his very wet lips, smelling of beer, planted on my lips, kissing me! I struggled to get away, luckily the bartender caught this happening as well. He cried out “oy!” and a hullabaloo started where others came to my rescue, literally prying the man off me because he really was holding on fast and didn’t want to let go!  People from my group came as well to help me. Local people from the pub grabbed the man, I think one guy punched him, and literally threw him out of the pub onto the street. I was very shaken up, everyone was very concerned for me, we were offered free drinks. The bartender said the man was a known drunk and wouldn’t be allowed in the pub anymore. I quickly went back to my accommodation after that, accompanied by my older brother who had been part of the group I had been with.

Remembering that, and my brother being there, reminded me of an incident a year later when my whole family and I were in Cairo, visiting the Pyramids. Esther 20We were allowed into one of the pyramids. There was a narrow hallway leading upwards with a rope you could use to hold on to. You couldn’t stand up straight in some sections and there were these guides along the way to help anyone with trouble getting on. One of these guides actually followed behind me for a while and literally felt me up, touching my hips and my bottom to ‘help me along’. I shrugged him off, said I didn’t need help. My brother saw and took the man’s place behind me so he would leave me alone. The rest of that holiday (we were there for 3 or 4 days), I felt unsafe and tended to keep close to one of my older brothers, just so I wouldn’t get into a situation like that again.

I then for some reason also remembered an incident from when I was 15 or 16. I was already in love with old movies at that time and at some point I had gotten this hand-me-dpencil dressown 1960s turquoise pencil dress, which looked something like this picture on the right. It was a little looser than this dress but it really fit me very well. I was not one to wear dresses at all at that time but when I put that dress on, I thought I looked really good in it. I felt like Doris Day! I was wearing it one hot day and was asked to do a small errand in town for my mother, which I went to do on my bike. I figured it looked nice enough and for the first time I dared wear it out in public. And boy, did I regret that! I felt uncomfortable with the attention I got walking down the street and when at one point some workers started calling out to me, asking me to come over to them, laughing at me when I said no, and continuing their whistling after that, I felt so very unsafe! I went home and never wore that dress again.

In my early twenties I also once encountered a flasher in a trench coat while I was walking through a park close by our house. He walked by, called out to me and when I looked over at him, he opened his coat and was stark naked underneath. He didn’t linger, though, and walked on, I think he even ran away. For some reason, I never felt threatened by that, though.

So, that’s it, my #MeToo experiences. When I look back I feel that I have always been conscious of never wanting to be ‘too sexy’, due to warnings to be careful because I’m a girl and I think especially after that blue dress incident, which I had really buried away deep somewhere. It’s sad that just because ‘boys will be boys’ many women feel unsafe or feel like they have to suppress themselves. Women speaking up about how threatened they feel is just the beginning, we also need to look at this ‘boys will be boys’ culture and teach our sons to treat women with respect! I feel my brothers are respectful of women, just like my husband is and I hope my son is too (he does seem like it from what I can see). I have luckily never felt threatened by men I work with or by male aquaintances/friends I have. So, I do realize that many men are respectful! But there are also many who aren’t and it’s not only up to the women to raise boys who are respectful; men are important role models and need to take responsibility too, maybe even more so than women!


Gabriel Macht – I am my beloved’s…

In my previous post I wrote about finally watching Suits and falling in love with it! I haven’t been able to get enough, re-watching bits and pieces, but mostly catching up on the actors in it and I have especially zoomed in on Gabriel Macht who plays the role of Harvey Specter. I really like the development his character has been going through during the 7 seasons of Suits so far and I admit to finding him quite sexy!

So, as I knew nothing about him, I’ve been delving into him and I find that he is happily married with 2 children. When I saw a picture of his wife, I thought she looked extremely familiar. Turns out she’s an actress as well, called Jacinda Barrett, and she was in the second Bridget Jones movie as the colleague of Mark Darcy who Bridget is jealous of!

She also had a small role as a brief love interest for Harvey on Suits, where I bet he got a great kick out of being able to flirt with her and kiss her (I only found out that she’s his wife after I had binge-watched the whole show).

Delving into him I find that Gabriel is besotted with his wife Jacinda and she with him. It makes me think of this line, which was also the theme my father had used for my wonderful wedding to Mr Esther 18 years ago…

They’ve been married since 2004 and, as I have commented before here and here as well about Colin Firth and Simon Baker, I just love love love seeing a man happy in love with his wife like that! He is in love with his kids too. Gabriel’s instagram account is filled with pictures such as these:

In an interview I saw with him on YouTube he answers a question about the relationship between Harvey and Donna on the show. In real life Gabriel Macht is very good friends with Sarah Rafferty who plays Donna, they have been close friends for 20 years or so.  The interviewer references this friendship (at 23 minutes in to the video) and says “the Donna from the show who’s his best friend in real life.” Gabriel corrects her and says “My best friend in real life is my wife.” This is greeted by awwws in the audience and I admit to feeling that ‘aw’ as well! That, and other things I’ve been hearing him say and reading about him, make me really like Gabriel Macht!

Now, maybe more than ever, I hope things can work out for Harvey and Donna on the show. Someone made an awesome fan video about Donna and Harvey and the cliffhanger we are left will till the beginning of 2018…

… and it would be cool that when Suits ends at some point, Donna and Harvey can have what Gabriel and Jacinda seem to have (and what Mr Esther and I have 🙂 ). Should that be where the story arc ends for Harvey, his character will have made a huge development from the beginning of the show. I for one would love this.

Miss Fisher movie crowdfunding!

It’s no secret that I have fallen in love with the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries; I have made a handful of fan videos for the show, after all. Season 4 ended something like this for Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) and Jack Robinson (Nathan Page)…

… which was really a very open-ended ending. The good thing about open ends is that it sparks a lot of fan fiction, the bad thing is that you really want to see what happens next and you can’t!

For a while now there has been talk of a sequel in the form of a movie but financing has been a problem. Last spring there was a report of the script being discussed with the actors, but there has been no go ahead as yet for the project. So, the team have come up with crowdfunding as a solution! Here’s a video of Nathan Page (on the Miss Fisher Facebook page) getting the idea to crowdfund:

And here’s the link to the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, explaining in more detail what they want to do:

Also, two images I’d like to share that I have borrowed off that Kickstarter page; one explaining what makes Miss Fisher special and the other because the image is just lovely…

Miss Fisher director's statementMiss Fisher plane

Yeah, I think I need to back this one. Feel free to do so as well, if you care to. 🙂

Colin, Cannes and fine eyes

These pics are from last week but I’m just coming across them now… Colin was back in Cannes, as far as I could tell, to support his wife Livia’s ethical fashion campaign.

Colin & Livia Firth Cannes 2017

Doesn’t he look lovely in a grey suit? I like Livia’s outfit too, it’s a dress that used to be owned by her mother.  On a side note: the article in this previous link (and other news sources I have seen) also refers to Colin asking for Italian citizenship next to his British one (Livia is Italian). He is very opposed to Brexit, so it looks like this application has something to do with that. End of side note and back to Cannes: Colin and Livia looked dapper here as well, with Livia again wearing a dress that looks lovely…

Colin Livia Firth Cannes2 2017

In Cannes, Colin looked very pleased, adorable and somewhat goofy, almost fatherly, hugging a young lady…

Colin Firth hugs lady

But the shot I really loved was this one…

Colin Firth Salma Hayek Juliette Binoche Cannes 2017

Colin sandwiched between Salma Hayek and Juliette Binoche. That look on Colin’s face is so tender, amused and adorable…. sigh! I just saw Salma Hayek on the Graham Norton show last week, she is quite funny, I never really knew that about her! Colin seems to like her too. 🙂 Not that Colin is in love with Salma but the look on his face makes me think of this Barbra Streisand song from her movie Yentl

It looks like Colin and Mr Darcy still have an important thing in common: they can happily meditate on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow. 😉

‘Mensch’ Gregory

I mentioned Gregory Peck in my last Armitage challenge post and it got me thinking that it’s been ages since I saw any Gregory Peck movies (Roman Holiday excepted, I still dip into that one on occasion). So, before I wrote that challenge post, but when I was already thinking about the answers, I re-watched To Kill a Mockingbird. It is the famous story of a Southern lawyer in the 1930s defending a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl. The story is told from the point of view of Atticus’ daughter, Scout…

Gregory Peck received an Oscar for this role, he is as a true ‘Mensch’ (Yiddish for a man of decency, honesty, warmth and integrity) in this!

I love the character of Atticus and I love Gregory Peck as Atticus even though for me this so highly acclaimed film can’t quite live up to the book. The book is richer than a two-hour movie adaptation of it ever could be… Still, it is a good adaptation and Gregory is quite excellent in this! People have always said that Gregory Peck, the man, was very much like Atticus Finch, and that idea fills me with even more joy.

Next, I went on to watch one of my other favourites of his called The Big Country, which is a very different kind of Western. Peck plays a captain who comes out west to marry the daughter (Carroll Baker) of a rancher but won’t be bullied into macho ways and refuses to be drawn into a feud between his fiancée’s father and a neighbouring rancher… The daughter finds it hard to accept the ‘cowardly’ behaviour of her intended, while the schoolteacher friend (Jean Simmons) does seem to ‘get’ it and tries to help the daughter see it. Charlton Heston also stars in this movie as the right hand man of the fiancée’s dad and much more suited to her than Gregory’s character; Burl Ives plays the family’s rival rancher… I love this story of a good man staying true to himself and I love the chemistry between Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons in this (click on images to enlarge)…

Yes, Gregory is a real ‘Mensch’ in this one too!

I have also been updating my Peck collection with some movies I had never seen before. In the old days when I was a big fan it was difficult to get my hands on those movies and in later years I never really tried… until now.

So last night I found myself watching a movie of his called Captain Newman MD. I’d read good things about it but had never seen it before and I don’t think people even remember this movie anymore. Admittedly, it is a little uneven to be one of the true classics but even so, I was quite impressed with it!

Peck plays an army psychiatrist at the end of WWII, tending to men who are driven over the edge from the horrors of war. He also constantly needs to defend his patients against the prejudice of mental illness, many tend to equal that to weakness of character. He is a real Mensch for his patients and the people around him and also struggles himself, dealing with all he experiences (he even gets drunk in one quite amusing scene).

The movie is not only tragic, it is funny as well. Captain Newman has an un-orthodox way of gathering staff for his unpopular ward. Tony Curtis plays such a ‘hi-jacked’ orderly who turns out to fill his new role with gusto and is responsible for the bigger laughs of the movie. Angie Dickinson plays a nurse that Newman recruits in his unorthodox way as well. His patients include Eddie Albert (who was also the photographer in Roman Holiday), Robert Duvall in an early role (he also played Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird!) and singer Bobby Darin, who won a supporting actor Oscar nomination for this role.

In one scene Darin is drugged and tells the doctor the harrowing story of his trauma. Darin does that very well, but what totally mesmerized me was Gregory Peck just reacting to it all… He doesn’t say anything, just reacts. I think it’s one of the best acting performances I have ever seen him give!

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (7)

He holds the soldier after the tale is told, then puts him down to bed again. The look on his face is just heartbreaking…

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (11)Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (15)

… and then he stares wordlessly out through the shutters…

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (16)

Just… wow! He also questions the wisdom of patching up the men, only to send them off to war again, to destruction and possible new trauma or death… Not all the patients he treats have a happy end and I think the humour in the movie is meant to counterbalance the tragedy. The movie ends on a tragic and a happy note as well. I have to say, I really laughed when at the Christmas party at the end a group of Italian ‘POW’s perform ‘Hava Nagila’, which they think is an old American (i.e. Indian) song.

And the absolute joy on Gregory Peck’s face as he claps along to it, makes up for some of the tragedy…

I’m so glad I finally got to see this! I know I’ll be going back to it again.

Next up: re-watching Gentleman’s Agreement, a movie Peck made in 1947 about a journalist posing as a Jewish man so he can learn about anti-Semitism! I remember it being quite good, an early Mensch-Gregory example, but it has been years and years since I’ve seen it. I wonder how it will hold up for me when I see it again…

For me right now it seems that Gregory Peck is filling a certain “Mensch-void” that I see around me when I look at certain public figures in the world today. Looking at him in his Mensch-roles makes me feel a little better in these divisive times. I just hope there are still enough like him out there in the world today…