DAME Joan Collins isn’t stupid, but her memories of the early days of her acting career are a dangerous maze of trying to avoid impossible situations with powerful but shady film bosses.
Take Darryl Zanuck, producer of the classic film The King and I and someone Marilyn Monroe warned her about.
He had a gold replica of his penis on his desk and lunged at the then 20-year-old Joan, pinning her against a wall and saying: “You didn’t have anyone until you had me, darling.” . I can go all night.”
Pooh. Another producer put her hand on his open fly and called her “a cold little witch” when she didn’t respond to his advances, and she said some of the actors she worked with “considered it their divine right to have sex.” to have with its main actors “lady”, too.
One of them, Richard Burton, said that if she didn’t sleep with him it would break his record of having “all my leading ladies” in bed. She didn’t, so he barely spoke to her anymore.
In her new memoir, Behind The Shoulder Pads, Dame Joan writes: “Men who thought women were playthings because they were rich or powerful could be very cruel.”
Sound familiar? Whatever the truth behind the serious allegations made against comedian Russell Brand between 2006 and 2013 (he denies everything), it’s fair to say that he was at times cruelly casual and often misogynistic in manner, how he talked about women throughout He freely admits that these were his promiscuous years.
And it’s also fair to say that his behavior was enabled by an industry so focused on protecting its assets (and the ratings/profits he brought in) that he felt like an idiot at best could behave, in the worst case (if proven) a sexual predator towards women.
Just like all the older men who exploited the young Joan Collins in a twisted attempt to exert their power in the industry, knowing full well that any complaint she dared to voice would be absolutely ineffective.
Decades later, it was the same story as producer Harvey Weinstein used his power to make or break careers when actresses and female staff didn’t give in to his sexual demands, and in 2017 it took a few very brave women to stop him To bring case ignite the #MeToo movement.
But where are we now? Well, the acting industry now has due process and intimacy coordinators in place to hopefully protect female stars. But what about the Muggles? . . i.e. women in normal jobs?
It appears that little has changed and the sexual harassment of young women by certain (by no means all) adult men remains evident.
Comedian Katherine Ryan is reported to have confronted Brand on a TV comedy show in 2018, claiming he was a sex offender, but according to sources “close to the production staff,” the segment was canceled ripped out (what does that tell you about that?). Industry?).
She recently spoke out about how her 14-year-old daughter Violet and her 16-year-old cousin were harassed on the London Underground while they were enjoying a day without “healthy activities”.
A man sitting opposite them began openly filming them and when they got out they “continued to be harassed by other men across London”.
“There’s no mistaking Violet’s age. She is 14 and has braces. . . You’re a sick freak and you shouldn’t talk to teenage girls like you are. I want it to stop,” says an angry Katherine.
Violet had the wherewithal to film the man and the transport police are now involved, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
A friend’s daughter is sexually harassed as she leaves the house by a man in the house across the street who is standing naked at an open window. They say the police did nothing.
My youngest daughter (19) and her friends say they constantly have to keep their cool when going out to ward off the sexual attention of older men who should know better, and a radio call earlier this week involved calls from women in various styles Industries that reported sexism, sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. How depressing.
Just last week, a comprehensive analysis of NHS staff revealed that almost two thirds of female surgeons say they have been the victim of sexual harassment and a third have been sexually abused by colleagues in the last five years, some of it during surgery.
Some were fondled in their scrubs, male surgeons wiped their foreheads on their breasts and others rubbed erections on female staffers. Some were offered career opportunities for sex.
And in turn, they were afraid to report incidents because they doubted the NHS would take action and it would damage their careers.
Considering those who have voiced their concerns about murderous nurse Lucy Letby claim that hospital management weren’t even listening, it’s true.
To make matters worse, the reactions of certain segments of the public to allegations of sexual harassment continue to be, “Oh, get a sense of humor,” or “There are far worse things happening in the world.”
Others express the worrying belief that a sexual assault that occurs while a woman is in a relationship with a man or after she has had consensual sex with him on another occasion cannot possibly be a crime. Seriously?
Then there’s the “He was always nice to me” brigade, which is as nonsensical as saying, “I met Ted Bundy and he didn’t murder me.”
In the case of Russell Brand, it amazes me how many people turn their guns on those who have spoken out, whether it be the as-yet-unproven criminal allegations or simply his promiscuous and often casual misogynistic treatment of women in the past.
“Why did it take them so long to say something?” is a common refrain. Well, probably because at that point they felt like they were alone and not believed.
Or maybe they reported it to their superiors and it didn’t help? Or have they grown up now, perhaps had children, and only now realized that what they supposedly had to endure was wrong?
“Many women willingly slept with him,” reads another. Yes, but that doesn’t make all women fair game.
And as for those who agree with Brand that he is under a “coordinated attack” from the mainstream media due to his anti-establishment narratives and outright Covid conspiracy theories, etc., I am at a loss for words.
Brand is smart, a great speaker, and has many valid points to make on his popular YouTube channel.
His book, Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions, is excellent, and when I last spoke to him in 2017, he was a happily married father who seemed calm, content, and on a much different level than his years of drinking and drugs .
None of this means he should be immune from scrutiny of his past behavior if, as alleged, some of it was criminally abusive.
Yes, ideally the allegations should have come to light through a police investigation, but as Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, wrote in The Sun, “many women simply don’t trust the police or the court systems”.
It’s no surprise when statistics show that only five percent of rape allegations made to the police result in charges, and many of that small percent only end up in court after three years.
One woman’s response to the 2021 victim survey was: “The entire process was more traumatic than the actual rape. “I have no trust in the justice system.”
That needs to change. Because if women still feel powerless to speak out, or are then shot down in flames when they do, then we’ve had nothing to say since the bad old days when they were told to shut up and shut up nothing achieved.