The open letter, penned by Producer and Bectu rep Meriel Beale, demands an end to a culture that turns a blind eye to predators and harassers operating in plain sight. Read the letter in full below.
After reading the Noel Clarke allegations, many of us within the TV and film industry started sharing our own stories of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. His case is not a one-off and, shockingly, is not an extreme example.
It has happened to so many of us that it seems normal.
It has happened to so many of us at the hands of men in positions of power within the industry – whether industry colleagues, presenters or actors.
It has happened in plain sight.
From talking over us, to comments in the workplace on our appearance, to men discussing openly what they’d like to do to us, to relentless private messages, to groping, to intimidation and to sexual assault. These are the stories women have been sharing over the last few days.
We are told ‘it’s just his way’ or ‘you should be flattered’. We are asked ‘are you sure you want that man to lose his job?’ We are asked ‘who did you sleep with to get that job?’
We are told to ‘lighten up’ and to ‘take a joke’. As we get older, we are told our worth has decreased.
How does a young, female runner take the ‘joke’ of being asked for a ‘gangbang’ by her senior male producer in a room where she is the only woman? How does she handle having a Twitter account set up in her name with inappropriate tweets sent to the presenters she is working with? How does a woman carry on trying to lead her team when she has been groped in front of them? How do you work with a male presenter after he puts his hands all over you?
We just want to do our jobs. But we end up having to manage and navigate these situations. We don’t want to be seen as ‘killjoys’ and we don’t want to anger the men into violence. It is a constant, terrifying tightrope. We are exhausted and we are angry.
All of this contributes to us being undervalued in TV. Many men won’t recognise or notice sexist micro-aggressions – the low level hum of sexism – and many women will accept it as part of the culture. It has been normalised, but it is not normal.
We need more women in senior positions in TV and film. We need them to be allies and to be empowered to make real change. We need older women and women with caring responsibilities so that this filters down throughout the industry. We need women to be taken seriously. We need men to call out bad behaviour.
This is just one of the areas of discrimination and abuse within the TV industry and one that intersects with issues of race, gender, sexuality and disability. The Diamond survey from January 2021 reveals that, as in 2018-19, women, transgender, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and disabled people continue to be less well represented in senior roles. In fact, there has been a decrease in contributions at senior level made by females (47.1%, down from 50.4% in 2018-19).
It is time to rethink the culture of TV and film. It is time to put an end to this culture that turns a blind eye to predators and harassers operating in plain sight.
Click here to sign (your name may not appear straight away)
Further support and resources are available from the following organisations:
- Bectu sector of Prospect – the media and entertainment Union
- Film and TV Charity
- The TV Mindset
- Women in Film and TV
Further testimony on experiences of bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment and assault, can be read as part of Bectu’s #UnseenOnScreen campaign.