THE END OF A LONG SILENCE. FEMALE CREATIVES SPEAK OUT AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE COMMERCIAL INDUSTRIES
Lily// Recently, a close friend of mine was sexually abused by a taxi driver after being driven home from a night out. She feared that by exposing this driver, her employers may deem her as someone who attracts antisocial behaviour, putting her job in danger. Due to these pressures, she has not reported the crime. Now, she is haunted by fact that he is still driving around London looking for the next vulnerable girl. This made me really angry. How on earth do we live in a world where women don’t feel safe enough to call out abuse? How can we let a man like this continue to drive a taxi? This sparked the beginning of my investigation into just how many sexual predators get away with their crime. The most upsetting thing I found – two out of three sexual assault crimes go unreported. This seems to boil down to one simple reason: for decades, women have been silenced. They have been silenced by the threat of losing their job, losing their status or in some cases, even losing their home and family. But this silence has lasted long enough.
FINALLY VOICES ARE HEARD
After The New York Times published an article detailing allegations against Film Producer Harvey Weinstein, it only took 5 days for thirteen more sexual abuse allegations (three decades worth) from world famous actresses to come forward. Days later, Ellen Page called out directors who have been inappropriate with her, including X-men Director Brett Ratner. Following this, over 20 more allegations against a wide range of wealthy, powerful men in the industry. The bravery of these female role models resulted in a campaign encouraging women from all walks of life who have experienced any form of abuse be it inappropriate touching to rape itself, to stand in solitude with each other by posting the hashtag ‘#metoo’. The shocking amount of women who posted #metoo, opened up new channels of conversations worldwide, changing public thinking and encouraged men to stand with women in open and honest discussions about the issue.
Examining today’s culture, we can see the biggest influences on the choices of young women is undoubtedly the commercial world: film, fashion, media and the female role models within it. If this is the case, then it is the duty of film, fashion and media makers to take a stand with these women, in the hope that more creatives will use their power to encourage calling out sexual abuse with no excuses. As a female filmmaker, I felt it is my duty to join the conversation. I also wanted to amplify the voices of the most marginalized women, who may not have the access to the privilege of mental healthcare, and because of this are still suffering or have been lost to substance abuse due to the trauma of sexual harassment. So I began writing.
MAKING A FEMINIST THRILLER
Very often, in situations where a man is sexually abusive, it is not just one woman who is affected, particularly with these ‘big name professionals’. This is why it’s important for me to show how the strength of one woman can prevent the abuse of so many others. For the past few months I’ve been writing a short feminist thriller called ‘Jane’. The film follows Jane, a wife of a high fashion photographer, as she catches him sexually abusing an underage Cuban model. Jane decides to escape her current life with the young model and together they find a way to expose her husband. The women in this film are represented as not only the victim but also the hero, reflecting on what I see happen everyday, women supporting other women, because when it comes down to it, it is the women in my life who have been my saviours.
The backdrop of the film is set in the high fashion world of Paris during the 1970’s, a time when exposing a sexual predator was almost unheard of. I want to shed light on how long this has been an issue, whilst using the 1970’s misogynistic industry to portray how impossible it can feel to speak out about these situations, when a call from a boss or producer can throw your career in the bin. Through the journey of our two women, we will delve deep into the psychological impact abuse has on its victim and of those who trusted the abuser. I will be using the allegations against high fashion photographer turned sexual abuser, Terry Richardson, as influence in crafting a story as horrifically powerful as knowing the real truth of the industry.
Above all, I hope that exposing the gruesome truth of the industry will encourage the men and women that run these industries to ensure they are employing people who are safe to work with. If the world’s largest industries cannot set an example of a safe working environment, then how do we expect the small company’s everyday women are working for to implicate any kind of prevention against abuse for their workers.
SUPPORT JANE TODAY
My crew is build up of my wonderfully talented friends who care just as deeply about this issue as I do. We want our film to influence as many people as possible. To do this we need the funding to create a piece powerful enough to make a difference. We currently have a crowdfunding campaign going with a goal of reaching £6000 by the 15th December. Any donation towards our production would mean a great deal to us and every penny we make will be used ethically and resourcefully. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/jane
Lily Marks is a filmmaker from South London. She is currently in her final year at the Bournemouth Film School and has spent her past years working as a dancer, actress and film director.