Buckle up, friends. This is a long one.
I will spare you the details of explaining what the Me Too Movement is (it's a movement against sexual harassment and assault if you're looking for the short version). We've all been keeping up with the news cycle, we've read the articles. Frankly, it's a longtime overdue. And while it began with the entertainment industry, it's being felt everywhere. Those who commit these heinous acts should be afraid. I hope that they are.
But, reader ... it finally happened. Someone in the industry who I really and truly admire was accused.
There have been some media figures whose bodies of work that I've enjoyed who have been accused - Louis C.K., Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman. Some accusations have been more heinous than others. But these are artists who I once gleefully enjoyed seeing on screen. Now I'm either uncomfortable when I see them in a film, or downright refuse to watch any of their work.
I am, quite frankly, a little surprised that it took this long for it to hit a little closer than that.
This past week, Simon Le Bon, lead singer of Duran Duran (who you will all know are one of my favourite bands) was accused of groping a woman during an autograph session at a record store in 1995.
I read the news as I was brushing my teeth one night this week as I was going read to power down for the night. I threw my phone on the bed in disgust. I couldn't read the entire article. I decided to save that for the morning.
Morning came and it didn't make it any easier to stomach. The accuser made her statement, Le Bon made his (a denial of course), and I'm still feeling just awful about it all.
The short version is that I believe her.
The longer version is that it's likely a bit more complicated than that, because these sorts of things are not so black and white.
Le Bon's assistant, who was present at this signing, insists along with Le Bon that this did not happen. And I want to believe that. I want nothing more than for this to have never happened. However, I can't in good faith simply choose to believe that because this actually involves someone who I admire. I can't choose to not believe this woman simply because of that - because I always side with the accuser.
Why? Because there's nothing here for her to gain. She doesn't want money, it seems like all she was looking for was an apology. Le Bon has stated that he can't apologize for something that he didn't do, and that's why she went public with this. All that I've seen happen since this hit the news? I've seen the accuser harassed, seen her called names, seen Tweets of hers from years ago used as a manner in which to suggest that she shouldn't be trusted (when who among us hasn't tweeted ridiculous and foolish things), seen it suggested that she would be so lucky to be groped by him, seen others say that they wish it were them.
This is why women don't come forward. We vilify them for waiting years, sometimes decades to finally find the courage to speak up, and we vilify them when they do. And it's not fucking fair.
I'm so disgusted with my fellow fans right now. I'm not going to be part of this. I refuse to be.
False accusations make up such a small percentage of assault and harassment claims that it's in the single digits. And considering the extremely high number of women who have been harassed or assaulted (I'm one of them), the importance given to the issue of false allegations diverts attention away from the actual conversation here. There is nothing to be gained in coming out with a false accusation - especially when the accused is someone famous. All that does is open up the doors for behaviour like I mentioned above, and I can't fathom anyone doing that because they wanted it. Is it out of the question? No. But I doubt it's the case. It's not a brand of notoriety that most people strive for, it's not a way of getting your 15 minutes of fame.
Also, the number of fans coming out of the woodwork to say things such as "I met him once! He didn't grope me! He was nice! He would never do this!" makes me want to arrange a meeting between my head and my desk. Just because you met someone and they didn't harass or assault you doesn't mean that they would never do it to anyone else. The disconnect between fans and the actual reality of sexual misconduct will forever baffle me.
I want to believe Simon. I really do. I've adored Duran Duran since the late 90's, and it hurts a very specific part of my heart to witness this happening. Mainly because I know that nothing will come of it. It will be in the news cycle until something else comes along. But I'm also devastated as a fan, that someone would use their power to hurt someone this way.
I've spoken about not blindly believing Le Bon, but I also don't blindly believe the accuser. As I mentioned, the truth lies somewhere in between. The accuser's way of telling her story is very sensationalist, but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen. But I do side with her version of the events, if that makes any sense. I hope that it does.
In terms of reconciling my own feelings, I'm sure I've made it clear that it's been difficult. I want to believe both parties here. Am I going to stop listening to their music? I don't think so. I don't know. Not to say that it would take something worse to get me to stop listening to Duran Duran, but that's kind of where I'm at right now.
I will always believe women. That has been my motto since before this movement even started. We have to believe all women when they come forward, even if it makes us uncomfortable. You can't pick and choose which feminist values to align yourself with. If someone you like is accused, and you immediately come to their defense, then you are allowing your privilege to get the best of you.
At its core accusations like this, that involve someone you admire, might remind you that you aren't safe. They remind you that we don't actually know these people. Yeah, you met Simon once or a few times and he was really awesome, but you don't actually know him. You're not friends. He doesn't owe you anything.
If you choose to believe she's lying - although I would think long and hard about why you think that she is - then there's a right way and a wrong way to approach that. Every time you blast her on social media to suggest that she's made this all up, you assist in propagating the myth that women lie about being assaulted. You (yes, you) make it more difficult for survivors to find the courage to come forward. You force people who have already been traumatized to fear you as well. And while it may not affect this person in particular, it may affect someone else. A friend, a colleague, someone who comes across your message, someone who hasn't come forward yet, someone who is struggling about whether or not to do so. They may not say anything to you directly, they might even laugh it off along with you, but you could be deeply hurting someone that you care about.
We need to believe all women. We need to believe this woman. Even if it makes us uncomfortable as fans. There are no exceptions to believing women if that's what you've decided to do. You don't get to pick and choose which ones to believe. Your experiences, your meetings with Simon, the fact that you've adored him for years, the fact that you like his music, can't speak to the credibility of what someone else has lived.
I know my thoughts are kind of all over the place here, and I hope you can understand why. But I want to make it very clear that while I am struggling a bit with all of this that I believe her.