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!

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Emma Thompson in Cannes

Emma Thompson is in Cannes right now, promoting her new movie The Meyerowitz Stories with Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler. Apparently it is a Netflix production which will be available there any day now. I don’t really know much about this movie and I am not posting about that, really. I just came across all these pictures of Emma clowning around in Cannes and I wanted to spread the joy! So, that is all this is: Emma Thompson in Cannes picture spam (click on images to enlarge)!

And there’s more (again, click on images to enlarge)…

This next picture has her husband, actor Greg Wise (he played Willoughby in her Sense & Sensibility movie), smiling behind her…

Emma Thompson Cannes 2017-04

… and then there is this one, which is my favourite: Emma and Dustin delightedly greeting each other!

"The Meyerowitz Stories" Departures - The 70th Annual Cannes Film Festival

It just makes me grin so wide looking at all of these! I can go to bed smiling now. 🙂

Fangirling in London!

My son had a one-day (!!) class trip to London today. They left at midnight last night by bus to Calais, then ferry to Dover, then bus to London. They spent all day traipsing through the city and this evening the class goes back to the Netherlands but my son doesn’t… You see, I flew in to London this afternoon…

Leaving The Netherlands…

Entering England…

… and met my son this evening! While his friends have a long journey back all night, he has the luxury of sleeping in a bed here in my brother’s house. We’re having some mama & son time here in this great city, flying back home again on Sunday!

My visit here started well: I did some fangirling this afternoon while I was on my own – I walked by Emma Thompson’s house! She lives not far from where my brother lives in London and I just couldn’t resist. A nice, unassuming house in the middle of a row of houses. Very quiet street too… and no, Emma Thompson did not magically appear. I didn’t want to linger or stalk or anything, so after a quick look I walked on. It’s just nice to get a quick glimpse of how one of my fave actresses lives!

Some more fangirling when I saw this bag of one of my fave books in a bookstore…

… and this sign made me think of Richard Armitage in North and South when he mentions ‘Arkwright’s invention’

I love fangirling in London!

(This is my first time ever blogging on my phone… fingers crossed…)

My ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ report

Finally getting around to writing this up! It’s been busy…

So, a few nights ago I went to see Bridget Jones’s Baby. I was very suspicious of a new Bridget Jones movie but I can’t resist Colin Firth as a Mr. Darcy character (I can not resist Colin Firth – period) so no matter what, I was always going to go see this.

bjb-poster

Before I say anymore I have to say that I regret seeing so many clips of this movie beforehand because it took away from some of the jokes once they came up – they weren’t all new to me, I had already seen some of the funny ones! Also, when we went to see the movie, it was shown in one of the largest theatres of the cinema we were at and it was sold out! That meant, quite some raucousness during the very funny scenes, which sadly also drowned out some of the funny dialogue. In writing this up,  I am aware that they colour my first impression of the movie.

So, I have said in the past how I didn’t much like the ‘who’s the baby daddy concept’ when I read about it beforehand. To my surprise, however, it was handled very nicely and it gave great friction for the two male characters, Mark Darcy (my Colin) and Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey)! Mark is still not good with emotions, somewhat repressed and a workaholic. Jack is the way I think many Europeans see many American men – touchy-feely with wide smiles, health-conscious, open charm and a go-getter. Bridget, once again, finds herself torn between two very different men, with both men vying to be with her. I thanked the stars above that there was no fight scene in this movie (I hated that the second movie had rehashed that from the first movie) but there was more than enough covert rivalry between these two men to make the situation even funnier. I found that especially Colin excelled in those situations, but then I may be biased…

bjb8

About Bridget – while she does still bumble around quite a lot she has also matured. She is quite competent in her job (even though she does still muck things up) and she is still single, with her friend seemingly more obsessed by her finding a partner than she is. She is still not the best public speaker around but she tries and succeeds alright and she still knows how to enjoy herself at a party! Her mother is still ridiculous and her friends are still around, now with families of their own. She has also made new friends, like the delightful Miranda (Sarah Solemani), her colleague. So, yeah, Bridget is back but with a little more wisdom.

About Mark Darcy – he still is emotionally uptight but there is also a sadness to him. I find the explanation as to why he isn’t with Bridget somehow lacking. Why he would even have felt the need to marry someone else, whom he is already divorcing at the beginning of the movie, is beyond me. The explanation of why he and Bridget broke up (they are just too different) would have been divisive enough, I didn’t see the need for the ex-wife. Sure, it gave him an extra air of tragedy which really made you feel for him, but that could also have been achieved in other ways. I would have been happier if more of a deal had been made about those differences and I don’t think Darcy could have married anyone else after loving Bridget. Bridget never married, I don’t see why he would have done so. In my view, I believe he just would have emotionally shut himself down even more and have drowned himself in work, instead of getting another wife and then divorcing her again. But that’s just the romantic in me… how could Mark Darcy ever love or marry anyone else than Bridget?

bjb2

So, the ex-wife storyline annoyed me, as did knowing some of the best jokes beforehand and the loudness of the crowd in the theatre but other than that: I truly enjoyed this movie and it had everything to do with stellar performances!

I really liked this Bridget, more mature, aware of her past mistakes and yet still the same bumbling person with her heart in the right place. I’m not a huge Renee Zellweger fan but she pulled this off beautifully! She truly is a great Bridget.

Of course Colin Firth was brilliant! The sadness he portrayed was heartbreaking, the way Bridget still touches him was sweet but what I think I loved most were his deadpan looks, especially in the scenes with Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey was alright, he’s a nice guy and a seriously good suitor for Bridget, but Colin outshone him in every way and really made me laugh in the rivalry scenes. I won’t go into the scenes specifically, I don’t want to spoil them, but pay attention to the looks Colin throws. The man acts beautifully with just facial expressions and eyes. Also, the magic between him and Bridget is still there… My bias, I guess, but boy, did I love Colin in this movie!

And then there was Emma Thompson as the gynaecologist Dr. Rawlings… She is all about the business she’s in, very experienced and matter-of-fact. She throws little lines of wisdom and some priceless one-liners out there that are truly funny. A few days later I’m still laughing out loud at the thought of some of them. I read that Emma pretty much wrote her own role and boy did she do it well! She was brilliant, she really stole the movie in the scenes she was in.

There was great humor in this movie – from the explanation as to why Daniel Cleaver isn’t around anymore, to the scenes of Bridget at work and the Jack Qwant interviewing section, to the Darcy-Qwant rivalry and more. I know the getting to hospital bit was a little over the top, but boy, did I laugh! Oh, and the whole labour and birthing section was truly hilarious. There were some sweet and sad scenes too, but mostly this really was a romantic comedy.

Final verdict from me? Bridget Jones’s Baby is not as great as the first Bridget movie (nothing can top that) but it is way way better than the second one. The story was generally good, as were the characterizations, and the acting was great. I’m not just talking about the lead roles here, the supporting roles were acted superbly as well! The movie did have a few annoyances for me but still it is thumbs up from me for this one, I quite loved it! Yes, I need to go see it again, even if only for Colin Firth’s deadpan looks and Emma Thompson’s dry remarks…

Colin at the London BJ premiere

And I was right, the man looked dashing at the Bridget Jones’s Baby premiere last night!

He also took a little time for his fans…

I always love seeing Colin Firth with his wife Livia. Before she went to the premiere, Livia (an eco-warrior for sustainable fashion) posted a video on her Instagram about her choice of outfit.

 

Then later she shared this snap of her and Colin on the pink carpet…

BJ premiere-CFLF (4)

… but I found many more cute shots of the couple together!

I love the way she looks at Colin here, and he at her. It’s so lovely seeing an ‘old married couple’ like that look comfortable and apparently still happy together! A man with a good marriage is very sexy… There are bound to be ups and downs after so many years together but ultimately they stick together because he knows how to make his woman happy and she knows how to make him happy. I find that extremely appealing. ♥

Emma Thompson (credited as co-writer, but I think mostly for her own character) was also there with her daughter Gaia. This woman always exudes irrepressible glee, I just love her! Emma apparently steals the show in the scenes she’s in, which I can very well imagine, judging from what I have seen in trailers.

And here’s a shot of the main cast (Patrick Dempsey, Renee Zellweger and Colin of course)

BJ premiere-CFRZMD (4)

I also found a nice little interview with Colin HERE (filmed a few days before the premiere during the press junket) about the movie, his co stars and if there could be even more Bridget Jones movies.

What maybe pleases me most, however, is that my go-to movie magazine “Empire” gives this latest Bridget Jones movie a 4 star review!  They say: “Though the story occasionally stretches credibility, the warmth and wit so reminiscent of the original Bridget Jones’s Diary propels you along, being due in large part to the return of one woman: director Sharon Maguire. […] While the dynamic between Zellweger and Firth is as solid as ever, her pairing with Dempsey never delivers; him playing a one-note nice guy with a megawatt smile.” This means, I hope, that Bridget wisely chooses Mark Darcy in the end! Empire’s final verdict: “More than a match for the original, the third outing for Bridget has a solid story with holes you’ll forgive thanks to the much-missed onscreen magic created by a director and her leading woman.

I have since read a few more positive reviews, looks like this movie may not be such a disaster after all! Fingers crossed that I’ll feel that way as well when I see it (I still feel nothing can touch the first BJ movie) and that this is the worthy sequel the second BJ movie never was.