Celebrities Pop Culture

Joss Whedon has been accused of abusive behavior yet again

Followed by Ray Fisher’s allegations of abuse of power and misconduct by Joss Whedon, former Buffy the Vampire Slayer stars have come forward with their own experiences of alleged abuse by Joss Whedon. Much of these allegations repeat what others who have worked with Whedon have claimed over the years.

Earlier in July 2020, actor Ray Fisher reported allegations of abuse of power by Joss Whedon on the set of Justice League. He tweeted that Whedon’s behavior on the set was “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.” These allegations were followed by a subsequent internal investigation launched by WarnerMedia. The statement from the company provided little explanation of the course of action it would pursue. However, Fisher has since refused to appear in any DC films.

On Wednesday 10th February, Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia on Buffy, accused Whedon of abusing his power.

On Wednesday 10th February, Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia on Buffy, accused Whedon of abusing his power. Carpenter has previously claimed that she was “afraid” to go public with her allegations, as it could considerably impact her career. However, in the wake of the MeToo movement and increased awareness and advocacy for women’s rights, she admitted she feels much more confident today coming forward with these allegations. Carpenter recalls being body-shamed by Whedon during her pregnancy and subsequently dropping out of the show. 

Carpenter was motivated to come forward in solidarity with Ray Fisher’s allegations against Whedon that made rounds in the news last summer. Amber Benson who played Tara on Buffy also issued a note of support for Carpenter and backed up Carpenter’s claims regarding Whedon’s behavior. In a tweet, she wrote:

Even Sarah Michelle Geller who played the titular character Buffy Summers came forward in support of her co-stars. In an Instagram post, she stated that while she is proud to be associated with Buffy Summers, she does not want to be associated with Joss Whedon forever. 


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A post shared by Sarah Michelle (@sarahmgellar)

Geller’s partner Freddie Prinze Jr. said in 2003 that his wife has had to deal with a lot of nonsense behind the scenes on the show. We know that Whedon has publicly mocked Geller’s work in the past. He called her work in Cruel Intentions “a porny”, which Geller claimed to be “incredibly hurtful” to her. 

Michelle Trachtenburg, who played Buffy’s younger sister on the show, also asserted that Whedon did not display “appropriate behavior” around her as a teenager. However, Trachtenburg did not provide a detailed account of Whedon’s behavior. However, she did claim that there was a rule saying that Whedon “was not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again”.

Allegations about Whedon’s behavior have been surfacing for a while. The global successes of Marvel’s The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron directed by Whedon resulted in him being brought to direct competitor DC’s Justice League. It was a challenging production that was made worse by Whedon’s “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behavior according to Fisher.

Whedon has come under great scrutiny in recent years due to allegations of misconduct. He has had to leave several projects such as the Batgirl movie for Warner Bros., Pippa Smith: Grown-Up Detective for Freeform, and most recently The Nevers for HBO Max.

Whedon has yet to respond to the latest allegations made against him and his reps have refused to comment. However, what these recent allegations clarify is that toxic and abusive behavior by those who hold significant power is more prevalent than we imagine.

In the past, young actors were regularly villainized, it was Geller who bore the brunt of fan backlash, whilst Whedon always got a free pass and his career continued to grow. Whedon received praise and appreciation amongst fan circles for interacting with fans regularly through Buffy message boards. On the other hand, Geller was demonized for not accrediting Whedon and all that he did for her career.

In an increasingly evolving cultural climate, many people have come to realize that abusive behavior by those in positions of dominance is unacceptable. Those exploiting their power need to be held accountable. Despite being the victim, it took Carpenter almost a decade to gain the courage to finally share her story.

Abusers can have any gender, but most often in history, it’s been proven to be men who walk away with no consequences. We need to overcome the misogynistic patterns. Instead of being blindsided by the fame and praise of men in positions of power, we need to at the very least hear out the victims and recognize the existence of a pattern. Without this, we continue to fail the future generation of actors and actresses. 

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Editor's Picks Gender The World Inequality

A win for #MeToo in Pakistan: Meesha Shafi’s case granted leave by the Supreme Court

When it comes to sexual harassment cases, Pakistan’s justice system needs to be deeply combed through, reassessed and rebuilt. Be it by working through the cases more effectively, treating them with due importance and making sure the victims get the justice they deserve – these are basic human rights that tend to fall through the cracks of our broken system. Most of the time when a victim stands up against harassment, they’re named and shamed and Meesha Shafi’s case is no different. Although this Pakistani singer comes from a place of privilege, she was still subject to slander, hate and continued attacks on her character ever since she accused Ali Zafar of harassment. So what does that tell us about justice in Pakistan? 

In 2018, Shafi had accused Zafar of sexual harassment which led to a long legal battle between the two that was and is still covered heavily by the Pakistani media. Shafi is credited for pushing forth the #MeinBhi (#MeToo) movement to gain a strong footing on Pakistani soil, inspiring many to come forward with their own cases of sexual abuse and harassment. The laws, while partially implemented, do not cover the entire scope of women’s wellbeing – specifically, for those who are self-employed (like Shafi).

Earlier today, Shafi’s sexual harassment case against Zafar was granted leave by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. 

This is a landmark move, one that potentially could benefit all Pakistani women as it would determine whether the laws in place will move toward inclusivity. This especially pertains to students and those who are self-employed, to ensure their cases would not be brushed under a rug due to supposed “technicalities.” It will determine whether they will be included under Pakistan’s harassment laws and will agree to hear whether Meesha’s case would be covered by the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act.

Shafi is credited for being the one to allow the #MeToo movement to gain a strong footing on Pakistani soil, inspiring many to come forward with their own cases of sexual abuse and harassment.

[Image Description: a picture of Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar side by side] Source: The News International
Zafar, an equally popular musician and of course, a man, had a lot more privilege and popular support rallying up for him. They eventually went to court, where Shafi had no choice but to prosecute him under workplace harassment laws due to a lack of other options.

In October last year, while they were was still in trial, Zafar was appointed as an ambassador for Pakistan’s “Namal Knowledge City” by our very own Prime Minister, Imran Khan. The very existence of this position and the fact that Zafar was chosen for it, despite other more deserving contenders further deteriorates the #MeToo movement. It doesn’t help that the PM inaugurated the ceremony either.

Zafar went on to not only deny these allegations but also filed a defamation suit against Shafi (this case is strewn all over the media and continues to act as a barrier for people to viewing the case unbiasedly). Due to no existence of an employer-employee relation between the both of them, the Lahore High Court dismissed the case, as the 2010 Protection of Women Against Workplace Harassment Act was restrictive and does not protect individuals who are self-employed. Notice the huge gaps in our judicial system? Yep, stifling to be a woman in this country.

After the LHC dismissed that case, Shafi took a new case to the Supreme Court and essentially it challenges the current laws of harassment to stretch further in terms of protection. Having this leave granted essentially means the Supreme Court will now hear the specifics of Shafi’s case.

Shafi and her legal team have endured months of online abuse and character assassination over these accusations. Sadly, this is something most – if not all – Pakistani women are familiar with. 

Mein', Meesha and the motivation to move on
[Image Description: Meesha singing in front of spotlights] Source: The Express Tribune
In Pakistan, sexual harassment allegations are often dismissed as “personal matters”, “gold-digging tactics” or even character defamation by women. The pressure, emotional abuse, and invalidation often suppresses victims into staying silent and hidden. But, having a well-known singer, celebrity and icon like Meesha Shafi come out and say yes, I was sexually harassed and no, I will not remain silent –  was HUGE for Pakistan. After her public announcement, many other victims have come forward. It has created a domino effect which is set to change the narrative of harassment in Pakistan. But when cases like Shafi’s are thrown around and fuelled with hate or other unnecessary backlash, a crack is blown to this movement which has been aching to cut through the veil of a country that silences survivors. 

Even some Pakistani tv shows have their plots centered around women lying about abuse for nefarious means. The narratives only serving to invalidate real-life instances and further suppress the victims’ voices. Those shows are aired with zero inhibitions, while shows like “Churails” were banned due to what the censor board claims as “spreading vulgarity to the masses”. Men’s cases are an entirely different matter, with Pakistanis refusing to acknowledge it even exists. The #MeToo movement in Pakistan is not only met with a lot of resistance and backlash, but also the difficulties that come with dismantling decades worth of misogyny forming the core of Pakistani society.

Some Pakistani women have taken to Twitter to celebrate another successful right hook landing on the patriarchy’s face. Many more are flooding Shafi’s Twitter with messages of love, gratitude and thanking her for, once again, being an inspiration to them.

Here are some of the tweets:

For women all over Pakistan, today’s announcement marks a precedent for the future, in terms of protection and hope. While we know that the harassment laws are weak at best, knowing that Shafi, Nighat Dad and the rest of her legal team have worked tenaciously to reach this point is inspiring. It is integral that Pakistan’s judicial system listens to them and pursues a reshaping of its harassment laws, and ensures that self-employed individuals are protected at all costs.

Rest assured, this is a much needed cloud break that’s allowed some sunlight to shine on a cold and bleak 2021. We, at The Tempest, could not be happier for Shafi and her team, and only hope that this paves the way for better times for Pakistani women.

Although this is just one stepping stone in the greater war against harassment in Pakistan, we will celebrate it. We stand by Shafi, and all the survivors of harassment that are yet to get justice. The world continues to try to tear women down, to belittle them, to push them in a corner – but we will not be stopped. We will continue to push for justice, and always, the truth. This victory is an accomplishment and a reminder that our voices will not be silenced. At any cost.


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Movie Reviews Movies Pop Culture

‘Guilty’ on Netflix is one of the best films tackling rape culture

*Trigger warning: this article contains mentions of sexual assault*

When I first logged on to Netflix and clicked on a recommended film titled Guilty, I didn’t know what I was in for. The whole movie was crazy, but I absolutely loved it. It was deep and impactful, and featured amazing actors and excellent cinematography. 

The story was developed through flashbacks to a disastrous Valentine’s night at a college where all the drama began. Soon enough, it becomes evident to viewers that the movie would be addressing the MeToo Movement. The show centered on a rape trial involving main characters Nanki, Vijay, and Tanu. Throughout most of the film, Nanki is dead set that Vijay didn’t rape Tanu. Even the viewers don’t know for sure. However, Nanki does figure out that Tanu was telling the truth with the help of investigator Danish. In the end, Nanki, Tanu, and Danish are able to reveal the truth in front of everyone.

Guilty did an excellent job at addressing the MeToo movement. However, it also addresses a variety of other issues including PTSD, the effects of sexual assault, the inequalities between the wealthy and the poor, and more.

Every 73 seconds, another American is raped. But how many are fighting for those people?

Overall, the movie was stellar and I think it has the potential to greatly transform entertainment. Many forms of entertainment, namely the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, have been sensationalizing not only rape, but also suicide. The media has tried to so perfectly craft these stories, which just isn’t how real life trauma works. Rape culture started to become more accepted. The ideas that ‘boys will be boys’ and that the rich should get away with sexual assault became more real.

Guilty also addresses the integrity of the victim reporting the assault. In the movie, Tanu reports the assault a significant amount of time later, but she does step up. Instead of believing her, Nanki, along with many people, don’t believe Tanu and call her a liar. The assumption that a large number of women falsely report rape is just flat out wrong. The rate at which the accuser is lying is 10%, according to Public Affairs Professor Callie Rennison from the University of Colorado Denver. This is the same as most other crimes. The movie emphasizes how in real life too many people don’t believe the accuser, and that has become a huge part of rape culture as well.

Rape culture is especially evident internationally, like in India where Guilty takes place.

The countries with the highest rate of sexual assault in the world are as follows.

  1. South Africa
  2. Botswana
  3. Lesotho
  4. Swaziland
  5. Bermuda
  6. Sweden
  7. Suriname
  8. Costa Rica
  9. Nicaragua
  10. Grenada

These are places that most Americans have never been to or experienced, which makes it harder to fight for. Everyone from the production company to the director of Guilty were Indian (except for the fact that the distributor was Netflix). These people had experienced the atmosphere of rape culture in India and were able to accurately portray it. This is where entertainment comes in. By showing the stories of people across the world fighting for their basic human rights, the media can further support the #MeToo movement. It will create more of an understanding as to what exactly is going on in the world.

Despite the sensationalization of rape culture in media, there have been times, like Guilty, where the performance all wrapped together providing for a quality viewing experience and an impactful message.

Moreover, another example would be the Netflix show Unbelievable, which is based on true events. It did an amazing job of portraying how investigators worked so hard to find the rapist who had carefully covered his steps. When portrayed accurately, rape culture can be addressed and it can persuade more people to support the MeToo movement.

The MeToo movement is alive and thriving, and Guilty makes sure of that.

Rape culture isn’t going anywhere yet, but neither is the MeToo movement.

The movement peaked about two years ago, but is coming back for policy change. The movement started the #MeTooVoter to push voters to elect leaders who would develop policy around sexual assault. Sexual harassment against workers has been increasing too and the MeToo movement is fueled and ready to combat it. The media has become a primary game-changer for the movement. This includes not just social media, but many tv shows and movies that have strived to spread awareness of the problem.

The entertainment industry needs to cover more social justice topics like these. However, it also needs to make sure it isn’t sensationalizing them.

Media has such a wide reach over so many people. By spreading awareness through these platforms, the movement will gain more traction than ever before.

Celebrities Pop Culture

Ansel Elgort’s looks should not be a factor in his sexual assault accusations

Ansel Elgort, mediocre movie star, son of famous photographer, and writer of creepy, repetitively exhausting, and sloppily written EDM music is the latest celebrity to be accused of sexual assault.

On June 19th, a woman on Twitter under the username @ItsGabby tweeted that she had been raped by Elgort when she was only 17. Elgort was 20 at the time and was allegedly aware of their age gap. In her statement, Gabby claimed that Elgort was aware of her age, and would say “stuff like ‘you’re going to be such a beautiful lady when you’re older,’” a clear sign of sexual grooming. 

Twitter user @ItsGabby's post accusing celebrity Ansel Elgort of sexual assault.
[Image Description: Twitter user @ItsGabby’s post accusing celebrity Ansel Elgort of sexual assault.] Via @ItsGabby on Twitter.
Twitter user @ItsGabby's post accusing celebrity Ansel Elgort of sexual assault.
[Image Description: Twitter user @ItsGabby’s post accusing celebrity Ansel Elgort of sexual assault.] Via @ItsGabby on Twitter.
After exchanging Snapchats and DMs, Elgort forced himself on her. “I was sobbing in pain and I didn’t want to do it,” Gabby wrote. “The only words that came out of his mouth were ‘we need to break you in.'” She also wrote that she had suffered from PTSD and panic attacks due to Elgort’s abuse. Despite Gabby’s claims, fans were quick to harass her, flooding her timeline with tweets in defense of Elgort: 

“17? She knew exactly what she was doing.”


“She shouldn’t have exposed him like this. It’s so immature of her.”

“gabby OBVIOUSLY didn’t say no, i mean how could you?”

These are just a few of the thousands of horrific comments that use Elgort’s looks as justification for his actions. Newsflash, people — hot people can be rapists too.

This past weekend, Elgort released a statement on Instagram, confirming his relationship with Gabby, yet denying that he assaulted her. “I cannot claim to understand Gabby’s feelings but her description of events is simply not what happened,” Elgort wrote. “I have never and would never assault anyone. What is true is that in New York in 2014, Gabby and I had a brief, legal, and entirely consensual relationship.” Elgort then says he ghosted her, and the two broke up. His manipulative comments depict Gabby as a bitter, jealous ex who is out for revenge. 

Ansel Elgort's response to his sexual assault allegations.
[Image Description: Ansel Elgort’s response to his sexual assault allegations.] Via @ansel on Instagram
Elgort’s post is overflowing with comments of support. “Ansel would never hurt a girl. Id put my kidneys against her word” is the top and most liked comment on his post. Another account commented “Ansel has every right to defend himself and argue on his own behalf. Sorry kids, but something doesn’t become true because somebody anonymously tweets that it is.” 

Surprised that the actor who portrayed the lovable Augustus Waters in “The Fault in Our Stars” is a rapist? Don’t be. Elgort has a lengthy record of being predatorial.

In a 2014 interview with GQ, Elgort smugly gave a response on how he picks up women: “Girls love it when you have some weird nerdy thing in your room. It makes you look less threatening, even though I’m, like, very threatening. I’m the most threatening guy ever.”

In another interview with Elle Magazine in 2015, Elgort goes into lengthy details about his sexual opinions about women: “if you can find a girl who you can go to an EDM concert with, have a conversation with, who will sit on the couch and watch you play GTA for three hours—and then you go to bed and have amazing sex? That should be your girlfriend.” He also goes so far to comment on how women are “dishonest people pleasers” when discussing his co-star Shailene Woodley: “Shailene is very different. I wouldn’t use her as an example of what most women are like. She hates people-pleasing. She wishes the world could be a place where we could be really honest and true to our emotions.” 

Check out his EDM music for more cringe-worthy proof of Elgort’s predatory behavior. The lyrics of his song “Thief” describe the non-consensual ways in which Elgort takes what he wants from girls: “Call me a thief/There’s been a robbery/I left with her heart/Tore it apart/Made no apologies.” 

Society continues to blame victims of sexual assault for the actions of their abuser. Ansel Elgort has always been a creep, but his celebrity status and good looks do not mean that he isn’t capable of assaulting someone. It’s time to start believing all survivors of sexual assault, regardless of their abuser’s age, looks, and attractiveness. 

USA Politics The World

Betsy DeVos’ new proposal will harm all future campus sexual assault investigations

The implementation of proper Title IX protocols has historically been a rocky road, but the new rules published this week by US Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, sets us back dramatically in terms of progress. Title IX is the clause which applies to both state and local educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance. Its intention is to protect students from discrimination on the basis of sex, including the handling of any sexual assault cases that fall into the school’s jurisdiction. Now, under the rewritten proposal, which was released on May 6th, the way that colleges respond to sexual cases will be inherently favorable to the accused, leaving survivors in the dust yet again. 

In 2011, the Obama administration released the “Dear Colleague” letter, which was their guidance on how schools should comply with Title IX. This suggested mainly that schools use a “preponderance of the evidence” burden of proof standard when deciding sexual harassment cases, which means that the accuser is responsible to provide evidence that indicates the high likelihood of the assault (as opposed to the much harder to prove “clear and convincing” evidence standard, which puts much weight on the accuser to show that the accused had committed misconduct). 

This letter was a hard-won acknowledgment of the severity of sexual misconduct in a campus setting and brought upon a more serious concern for sexual assault at the federal level. But we weren’t out of the woods yet. 

Men’s rights groups and other sympathizers for accused students argue that the main suggestions of the “Dear Colleague” letter denied the accused due process. They claim that victims of sexual assault and violence could be lying and are therefore the real perpetrators. What makes the opinions of these groups even more terrible is that they commonly are allied with people of importance and who are in high positions of power. 

To be clear, statistics show that among undergraduate students, “23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” Of those survivors, more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault. The notion that a large number of claims and complaints are false is highly skeptical, given that the National Sexual Violence Resource Center says that the prevalence of false reporting on sexual assault is between 2% and 10%. Which, the resource center also notes, is a conflated number due to inconsistencies in definitions and protocols. 

When Betsy DeVos assumed the position of Education Secretary in 2017 and held meetings to discuss Title IX, she was not committed at all to maintaining the protections from the “Dear Colleague” letter. In fact, she scoffed at them. Then, in 2018, the Trump administration unofficially announced that the Education Department would be pulling back from those Obama-era guidelines. DeVos praised the new rules which manipulate what is at the core of Title IX. She was convinced that the guidelines from the previous administration were a civil rights violation and favored false accusers, because, according to her, people often make false claims for popularity or to ruin the life of someone out of dislike, utterly disregarding the terror, trauma, or injustice that survivors endure.

Time and time again, this government has proved that it is uninterested in protecting and supporting vulnerable student survivors, or survivors of any kind. These regulations ignore psychology and fact, and contrary to conservative belief, survivors are more likely to feel shame or embarrassment after an assault, and are not immediately emboldened to report the incident. 

DeVos’ proposal received much pushback from survivors and advocacy groups like the #MeToo movement. These new rules will land unfairly and unjustly in favor of the accused to protect the institution from liability and would dissuade victims from coming forward with their accusations out of fear. 

Furthermore, the final official version that was released on May 6th came out at a time in which schools across the country are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of these widespread closures, universities don’t have any preparation time before the rule takes effect. It will be extremely difficult for all colleges to implement this rule without face-to-face contact and for students to express concern or find the necessary resources to understand and cope with these new developments. DeVos’ theory is that colleges should have seen this coming, given the original announcement in 2018. If restrictions on face-to-face contact continue, schools would be expected to conduct hearings and investigations remotely, which allows for a lot of bias and ignorance. 

These new regulations go into immediate effect on August 14 and are broadly un-different from the 2018 proposal. They effectively allow perpetrators and schools to flee from responsibility. At the same time, the rules also subject survivors to additional trauma and therefore make campuses feel unsafe for most women.

 To put it frankly, the regulations are incredibly silencing. 

For one, the legal definition that constituted harassment during the Obama-era was an “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” DeVos’ is much more narrow, however, citing that harassment is an “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.” As if the literal assault wasn’t restricting enough for victims. 

DeVos is headstrong in her belief that her proposal restores balance and fairness in a system that is skewed in favor of the accusers. Apparently, to those who appear to only be able to muster up some empathy for the young, usually white, college-age boys who feel so entitled that they go around harassing women and impede years of trauma on them, her method will be more transparent. 

The new guidelines require colleges to respond to allegations in a more formal, court-like, setting where the accused is able to cross-examine the accuser. In addition, it is up to the discretion of the school to decide which burden of proof to rely on when judging complaints.

It gets even worse. The rule also makes sure that institutions are only legally required to investigate complaints if they are made to the proper authorities. Plus, much of the rule is left up to the interpretation of the school. So, any incident that takes place at a Greek-life or other school-sponsored event that happens to be off-campus would be subject to Title IX proceedings, but incidents that take place off-campus between two students on their own would not be considered for Title IX procedures. 

The new rules, in their very nature, ignore the emotional severity of a person coming forward with an allegation and refuse to hold the accused accountable for their actions. This is a regurgitation of power back into those who have always had it, and therefore works to reverse any progress towards equity that has already been made.

Gender Inequality

Male survivors are getting left behind. It is time we talk about them.

{Trigger warning: discussions of rape and sexual violence]

Up until 2012, the FBI assumed that only women could be victims of sexual assault. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, through which the Bureau collects annual crime data, defined “forcible rape” as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will”. (Italics mine)

This may surprise you, but it also perfectly encapsulates how sexual violence is viewed in many societies as a gendered crime with the perpetrator always a man and the victim always a woman. This myth has persisted despite being contradicted by plenty of data.

For example, in the US, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC)’s comprehensive country-wide 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSV) found that men and women had had “a similar prevalence of nonconsensual sex in the previous twelve months”: 1270 million women and 1267 million men. Lara Stemple speaks of another study, this time conducted in 12 US colleges and universities between 2005 and 2011, found that “4 percent of men and 7 percent of women have experienced forced sexual intercourse during college.” A 2005 survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 46,700 men (and 126,100 women) had experienced sexual violence over the past 12 months. In Canada, a registered charity made up of sexual assault center representatives, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS), claims that 10 – 20 percent of all men will experience sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Male survivors of sexual violence face a long, uphill battle if they chose to speak up about what happened to them.

James Landrith, 21, woke to find himself being straddled by a pregnant woman who had drugged and unclothed him. When he tried to resist, she told him he could hurt her baby. It took Landrith two decades and extensive therapy to call this encounter ‘rape’. Now a sexual violence activist, he writes “when sexual violence is discussed with regard to male survivors, there is often resistance, condescension, and outright mockery by people who quite often have not experienced such violence themselves.”

Masculinity is constructed on cultural ideas of strengths, sexual promiscuity, and stoicism. Many male survivors find their experiences dismissed by being told that they should have fought their assailants off, or hearing that a ‘real’ man would enjoy any sexual encounter.

When Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews shared his own #MeToo story of being assaulted at a party, the comedian DL Hughley mocked him saying “God gave you muscles so you can say ‘no’.” Recently, one of Pakistan’s most famous filmmakers, Jami Azad, took to Twitter to share his own experience of sexual abuse, and met with jeers and surprise that “a grown man can be raped by another individual.”

Men who have faced sexual violence are often told that getting erect or ejaculating during a forced sexual encounter must mean that they enjoyed it, or that only gay men face sexual abuse, or that men who have been raped will go on to become rapists. Organizations dedicated to helping male survivors work hard at countering these myths, noting that erection/ejaculation are physiological responses that can occur even in situations that are not pleasurable, that abuse can happen regardless of sexual orientation, that being abused doesn’t necessarily translate into turning into an abuser later in life.

In a certain way, male survivors can find themselves isolated by the language and activism of the feminist movement that has done so much to bring justice to female victims of sexual violence. Before the 1970s, rape and other forms of sexual coercion were largely seen as a result of sexual attraction. Starting with Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will, feminists in the ‘70s successfully permeated cultural consciousness with the idea that rape was about power/control and not attraction. This framing did a lot to help shift the conversation away from victim-blaming to holding the perpetrator accountable.

And yet, it allowed victims who were not women to slip between the gaps. Brownmiller herself once insisted that “strictly a crime of men against women” and that a woman raping a man was an “impossibility”. We see echoes of this idea in our current legal definitions of sexual assault as well. As previously mentioned, the FBI’s definition of rape only made space for female survivors until 2012 when the definition was amended to refer to a victim as anyone who had been penetrated. This, however, still excludes many male victims. The CDC has a new category dealing with sexual violence; awkwardly phrased as “made to penetrate”, it offers more comprehensive ground to male survivors.

Biased legal frameworks can often lead to heart-breaking and angering court judgments. For example, Kansas court ruled (in 1993) that Shane Seyer had to pay child support to his former babysitter, who was impregnated with his child when he was 13 and she 17. Some countries around the world still don’t recognize that men can be raped.

These societal and legal barriers mean that coming forward is often difficult for male survivors, and many male survivors do not report being raped. This means that they deal with their trauma without the support they should have, and this trauma often leads to depression, anger, anxiety, damaged romantic and personal relationships, feelings of ‘weakness’, and mood swings.

Helping male survivors is a long process. As the feminist fight against rape culture has shown, dealing with violence of this magnitude which is so deeply entrenched in culture means questioning broad cultural assumptions. We should stop asking men to be strong and silent as a facet of masculinity, investigate legal and court biases when it comes to male victims, challenge mockery like prison-rape jokes, and do much, much more. As #MeToo has shown us, there is a lot of work to be done to make sure each of us can live a safe and dignified life.

Gender The World Inequality

Pakistani men have weaponized #MeToo against the same women it should be helping

Pakistan is a country that is built upon the identity of its people, so it seems fitting for our culture and traditions to be dearly held and celebrated. As magnificent and unique as they are, our traditions also help preserve conservative mindsets that may be seen as regressive. Because of this deep intertwine, often movements that call for a change are seen as a direct attack on the country’s identity. The dichotomy of tradition and progress has been highlighted multiple times recently, as the #MeToo movement trickles into Pakistan.

While this movement is desperately needed in a patriarchal and heavily gendered society like ours, it is met with just as much resistance because of the threat it poses. The existing system of patriarchy allows men to manipulate the movement over and over again to maintain their favorable position.

The movement extended to Pakistan in April 2018 when Meesha Shafi, a Pakistani singer, came out with allegations against another singer, Ali Zafar. She exposed him on social media and explained that he had been inappropriate with her while they worked together. Shafi was met with a lot of support too, but mostly she dealt with a mob of defensive men and women who perceived this step towards change as an attack on their own values. Shafi was seen as a woman heavily influenced by Western concepts and was condemned for speaking on taboo topics such as inappropriate sexual behavior. As a conservative society, there is a lot of importance given to modesty which was the first thing Shafi challenged as she spoke out frankly about her experience. Shafi’s strength was seen as an attack on patriarchal values, which favored her harasser automatically.

Zafar played upon this discomfort of the population and manipulated Shafi’s message to favor himself. He used tropes like his celebrity status, reputation as a “family man”, and his philanthropic work, as his defense against Shafi, and instead sued her back for defamation. What started as allegations on social media in April 2018 has now been dragged out to become a messy social spectacle in which Shafi is painted as a scorned entity while Zafar continues to boost his image as a respected, beloved, and above all, traditional man who is familiar for the masses.

Although Shafi is credited with extending the conversation around #MeToo to Pakistan, she is not the first woman to speak out about working with a powerful man who behaved inappropriately. In 2017, a female politician Ayesha Gulalai accused the chief of her political party, Imran Khan, of sending her inappropriate text messages. Gulalai was met with far less support than Shafi, as she was immediately denounced by her own political party, and social media trolls rose to the occasion with aggressive threats.

Needless to say, Gulalai did not get the justice she set out for, but her harasser did become the prime minister of the country. Again, Khan appeals to the traditional mindset of the masses whereas Gulalai was threatening the power men are given over women in countless dynamics. Not only did Khan and his political party ensure the silencing of future victims with their reaction, he has since then also made attacks on feminism saying “I completely disagree with this Western concept, this feminist movement… it has degraded the role of the mother.” Feminism and #MeToo threaten powerful men as they prove that even oppressed voices cannot be muffled forever, which is why these men must resort to manipulating the message so it becomes distasteful for everyone else as well. As Khan’s statement reflects, men in power would much rather manipulate any kind of progress that threatens their superiority, by implying that asking for a change is offensive to our current values and consequently, to our identity.

Women who seek justice and choose to speak out are seen as controversial for not conforming to the ideal “traditional” Pakistani woman who is expected to silently accept the patriarchal system she lives in. If a woman dares to challenge the existing equilibrium, she is instantly demonized by a society that maintains its outdated mindset by hiding behind the excuse of traditions. Unfortunately, powerful men like Imran Khan and Ali Zafar have proved how this intrinsic connection between our identity and traditions makes it so difficult for our society to move towards change. Both of them turned their allegations back around on the victim and criticized the attempt towards change by encouraging the regressive mentality our society holds onto. Unfortunately, as men they have the louder voice, and yet they use their power to foster a toxic environment that allows them to remain in power. However, while their efforts at manipulation have slowed down our progress, social media is helping women reclaim their voices as they remain motivated in their fight against patriarchy.

Via The News
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Love Life Stories

I was in denial, until a stranger in Germany helped me confront my past

When I was younger, I was sexually assaulted.

What happened to me set a precedent for the way I experienced intimacy, the way I perceived romantic relationships, and the way I felt about myself. For the longest time, the overarching narrative in my head was that men, even those I came to love, could (and would) hurt me one way or another and that when they did, I deserved it. 

Naturally, the narrative self-perpetuated and I made poor choices involving shitty people.

As far as I was concerned, someone who lied and cheated and claimed to love me was as good as it would get. When I did meet people who seemed genuine and caring, I was afraid of them. I was a master of self-sabotage, lashing out whenever I felt vulnerable.

I always thought that I just needed to grow up and get over it. My craving for intimacy fought hard to break through the mental barriers that were set in place, but they only seemed to reappear every time I convinced myself that I had made progress.

Picture taking down a wall brick by brick, and every time you remove a brick and set it down, you do so in such a way that you just end up building another wall. Only now the wall stands at a slightly different angle, and perhaps you built it to appear a little less haphazard.  

I always thought that I just needed to grow up and get over it.

I knew for a long time that I needed something to break the cycle. I tried meditation. I tried running. I tried to pretend like it never happened. But none of it worked, and I was at a loss, until… I wasn’t. 

I was about five weeks into my post-graduation backpacking trip around Europe. I had spent the last couple of days wandering around the city of Hamburg, drinking hot chocolate and getting stranded at Germany’s largest port. Needless to say, it had been an eventful (and tiring) couple of days. So, I decided to spend this particular evening sitting in a corner of my hostel’s common room and making a dent in the book I was reading. 

In between chapters, I struck up conversations with fellow travelers and made plans to meet this one girl for coffee the next day.

We found ourselves in this little alternative cafe a short walk down the road from where we were staying. I enjoyed a slice of blueberry cheesecake while we made small talk and swapped travel stories. 

She eventually started asking questions about my upbringing: What was it like to grow up in Saudi Arabia? How accurate were the depictions of the Kingdom in the media? 

She was curious about my personal experiences and we delved deeper into my life than I anticipated. But she seemed genuine, and I found myself opening up about my strained relationship with men, and how I felt like the root of it all could be traced back to a few key moments in my life.

I told her about how I was sexually assaulted, more than once, and forced to carry the blame. She just looked at me, nodded, and said: “That must have been really hard for you.” It was oddly grounding, almost as I had never really allowed myself to see it that way.

She just looked at me, nodded, and said, “that must have been really hard for you.” It was oddly grounding.

She took a breath and opened up about her own experience of sexual assault. I just sat there, listening to this beautiful girl talk about the man who hurt her, unable to understand how she seemed so calm, but she had made her peace with what had happened.

She was living a full and beautiful life; he had no hold on her here.

She offered to share a poem she had written during the aftermath. I remember how hard I worked to keep my hand from shaking while I held her phone. I remember still how the room felt when I set it down and looked up to see she was now crying too. I remember just sitting there, holding her hand across the table, feeling my chest grow a little bit lighter.

I was sexually assaulted.

I can say that now or, I guess in this case, I can type it without feeling my entire body tense in the apprehension of an uninvited hand reaching out to wander across my skin. But I didn’t get here alone, so this is an ode to the person who really helped set my healing in motion.

She wasn’t a mental health professional. She wasn’t someone I had known for years. She was just a girl who had experienced something dark, and, through it all, had chosen to live a full and happy life.

What she didn’t know, was that in doing so, she had given me permission to do the same.

Editor's Picks Gender & Identity Life Stories Life

I couldn’t speak about my assault for years, until now

Trigger Warning: Mentions of sexual assault and PTSD.

It’s never easy speaking up about the person who assaulted you. But it’s much harder when you decide to come forward with your story many years later.

My fears had drowned out my voice. But not anymore.

I was young, innocent, and afraid when I was assaulted. I didn’t know who to tell. I didn’t know who’d want to hear my story. I didn’t know who’d believe me because I lived in a society where girls were told that it was always their fault.

You can’t laugh too loud. You need to walk a certain way. Your dupatta must always be around your neck.

Some part of me grew up believing all these excuses. Some part of me thought that maybe, I was responsible for what I endured.

You need to walk a certain way. Your dupatta must always be around your neck.

But now, years afterward, when I think about it, I realize that it couldn’t have been my fault. I was just a little girl back then.

My harasser had no excuse to assault me.

For a long time, I kept my story close to myself. I didn’t let anyone else hear it. It only lived in my journal until now. But, I’ve finally found my voice. After years of hesitation, I’ve decided to write my story. I know there are already too many out there. But they’re all important.

Including mine. And yours.

It was late summer. There was still time before school opened again. I always wanted to learn tennis and my parents decided that I should take up tennis classes before summer was over. I went to the tennis court every day. For a few days, my coach gave me lessons outside in the open courts, where there were people all around. But later on, he insisted that we should go to the squash court, as it was empty, and he could teach me better.

I went with him.

Within the four walls of the squash court, he didn’t teach me tennis. He assaulted me.

What would have become of him if I exposed him all those years ago?

I didn’t resist when for the first time, he wrapped his hand around mine and said, “I’m only telling you how to hold the racket.” I smiled and asked if I was holding it correctly. As days passed by, he became bolder. He would wrap his arms around my stomach and ask me to hit a shot. I would do as he would say.

His prickly beard rubbed against my face and his hands grazed my body in all the wrong places. He smelled of all things bad. I wanted to pull away, but he was big and strong. My tiny wrists wriggled in his fists.

I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream. But even if I tried, I couldn’t. I was scared of him. And then, finally, one day, I stopped going. When my parents asked me why I told them I didn’t want to learn tennis anymore.

I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream. But even if I tried, I couldn’t.

I still think about him, even if I don’t want to.  And I don’t think that’ll ever change. I remember his face, his hungry, malevolent eyes pricking my skin like needles.

I think about where he might be right now. I think about how many more girls he probably assaulted after I moved away.

What would have become of him if I exposed him all those years ago?

I’ve realized now that all those years ago, I was assaulted by a man much older than I was. It was sexual assault when his hands moved up under my shirt, when he tightly held my wrists and when he rubbed his face against mine.

All of it was wrong and none of it was my fault. I’ve spoken up now, years after all of it happened, because it’s never too late to speak up, to share our stories, to raise our voices.

I was always afraid to speak out. But not anymore.

His time is finally up.

Editor's Picks Books Pop Culture Interviews

Meet the author tackling the truth about what it’s like to leave a bad marriage

A journalist, an activist and now an author, Kaya Gravitter’s debut novel, After She Said Yes, hit the bookshelves last month. 

Kaya Gravitter is a passionate, curious soul, and a self-described hopeless romantic. Her first foray – a defining moment – into the writing world took place within the confines of her fifth-grade classroom during recess. 

“I don’t know what clicked,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Tempest. 

“But one day, instead of going out for recess, I wrote a story I liked so much that I wrote up its screenplay. It then ended up being acted out for the middle school.”

And after years of writing in a myriad of ways, across multiple platforms and journaling her way through pre-teen, teen, and then young adulthood, Kaya now has her first published novel in her hands.

After She Said Yes follows the tale of Aurora Tousey as she navigates the stresses and pressures of leaving a trying, abusive marriage, and potentially having to choose between a successful career or a chance at love once more. 

“A woman’s growth through challenges,” is how the Wisconsin-born author described it.

The book touches upon multiple trials and tribulations comprising abuse, PTSD as well as eating disorders, and holds the promising look of an emotional, touching read. It covers the topics of divorce, abuse, anxiety, and interracial relationships. 

“It does so for a few reasons, partly because I have seen and/or experienced this firsthand,” explained Kaya, adding: “But my love for writing and my life experiences also led me to write this novel for the women speaking out against their abusers and for the women who still haven’t. I was also inspired by the #MeToo movement.”

And though the novel is fiction, Kaya cites that her hopes lie in it inspiring and being a source of not only comfort but strength as well, for any person who’s experienced or is experiencing similar trials.

“I want women to see that there is a light at the end of the sometimes very dark tunnel. In the novel, you will learn about an organization called the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS for short), which is based in Madison, Wisconsin,” said Kaya.

“I volunteered there a few years ago among other women’s shelters. After She Said Yes is written for all of those women I spent time with and tried to help from when I started volunteering at fourteen years old.”

The book draws some parallels between Aurora, the main character, and Kaya’s life as well through the mental health struggles that Aurora combats with.

”I have anxiety and depression,” explained Kaya. “It is something I am not the most open about but I have been suffering with it since I was 10, and that is why I started journaling but I did not know I had anxiety or depression. I just kept praying to God to help me.”

[Image description: Author holds the book up to the camera.] Property of the author.
[Image description: Author holds the book up to the camera.] Property of the author.
Kaya’s own experiences have shaped her to be a caring person, dedicated to “speaking up for the voiceless.” She pursued a double major in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin, and then went on to pen a number of hard-hitting op-eds for Yahoo! News and The Huffington Post, to name two outlets. Through her words and activism, she hopes to help create a more inclusive world.

And if you’re interested in breaking into the writing industry yourself, Kaya has her own tidbits to share now.

“Be persistent! Be prepared to be rejected but rejection makes the reward so much better. I recommend that you don’t give up on your dreams of writing, even if you feel your work is not perfect. Nothing is perfect. 

“Also, writers do not make much money, so don’t quit your day job if you get a $10,000 advance for your book. You should always prepare for the worst but expect the best,” said the author of After She Said Yes who’s already working on her next novel while prepping for a Masters degree in either creative writing or psychology.

In the meantime, though, you should absolutely get your hands on After She Said Yes and try your luck at winning a free copy in our giveaway! It’s a novel that reaches far further than it’s possible to explain. 

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World News Culture Gender & Identity Life

The “Muslims Of The World” giveaway was horrific, but it’s just the tip of a toxic iceberg

The Muslim online activism world has once again been hit with a scandal, but not by an Islamophobe. It was one of our own. 

 The Instagram account, @muslimsoftheworld1, decided to offer a giveaway for a trip to New Zealand to meet the families of the recent terror attack at Christchurch.

Describing itself as “a platform designed to give a voice to Muslims around the world,” according to the account’s Facebook page, the giveaway was meant to celebrate the Instagram account reaching 300,000 followers. As part of the giveaway, the account asked followers to tag three people in the comments and follow the account’s founder, Sajjad Shah, author Khaled Beydoun, and scholar and Imam Suhaib Webb, who would all accompany the winner on the trip.

First off, unless you’re a mental health professional who is offering your services to grieving families, this makes no sense whatsoever. Families in grief are not a tourist attraction even if they share the same religion. Furthermore, if this grief tourism is the beginning of a thing, there are many other places across the world in which Muslim communities are hurting from tragedy. Aren’t they deserving of a spot too? 

In a subsequent post, Muslims Of The World (MOTW) issued an apology, and the giveaway trip was axed.

This incident may have been bandaged with a cancellation and apology, but it does point out a wider issue. MOTW prides itself as being a platform for Muslim voices worldwide. Looking through the feed, it’s a compilation of posts from everyday interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims, incidents of Islamophobia, media bias and fundraisers. Individually and collectively, these are essential topics to cover, but the issue lies behind the scenes in that such a heinous giveaway idea was even allowed to move forward.  

MOTW has other issues as well. Though their image purports charitable work and positive vibes, Instagrammers have reported that their interactions with MOTW were uncouth and not reflective of the portrayal of Muslims that MOTW claims to aim for.

These allegations come from Muslim women who are well-known on Instagram and other platforms. They say MOTW  insulted them

In recent years, the online Muslim community has experienced reports of misconduct like that of MOTW. More and more stories of men who occupy positions of authority and power and misuse it for personal gain. As long as they’re publicly active, whether in their local communities or online and have gained a following of some kind, they then become immune to any criticism. It’s happened already.

Even when there are known reports against these well-known activists, their followers still support them and choose to side with abusers. The complete lack of acknowledgment of these incidents as even a possibility creates a cult-like atmosphere whereby these men are somehow made out to be saints and untouchable. 

They are treated like celebrities and put on such a high pedestal that anyone who speaks out about negative interactions with them is quickly hushed, ignored and become targeted by their loyal followers. This culture is growing so virulently that it seems as though the people behind these accounts can do no wrong because of the size of their following or the blue check next to their name.

Putting blinders on and focusing on the good things these men do is hugely problematic. It enables abusers and sets a dangerous precedent as there is no recourse for their actions.

They can continue what they’re doing or do worse things.

With the community not shunning them, they’re given leeway and license to continue.

This is a real danger. As Muslim celebrity account grow, more people hold onto every word they say and take it as gospel and the more the community is willing to protect them, at the expense of women. When women speak about what has been done to them, they’re either liars or exaggerating; they are always the ones at fault.

#MosqueMeToo, started by Mona Eltahawy, stemmed from her experience of sexual harassment when she went on Hajj, the annual pilgrimage. With #metoo opening up a safe space for women to speak of their experiences of harassment/assault, there needed to be a space within that spectrum for not just Muslim women but all women of faith as well.

This religious abuse is not uncommon.

The common denominator? These men are very well-guarded and protected by their communities. #MosqueMeToo gave women the confidence to speak of things they hadn’t ever been allowed to before, and that opened up an avenue for acknowledgment, acceptance, community, and healing. Pulling back the veil on harassment, it felt like the community finally recognized that burying one’s neck in the sand doesn’t make the problem go away.

Given the constant influx of Islamophobic incidents today, the community’s reluctance around bringing issues to light – and bringing unfavorable publicity to our mosques – is understandable. Sure, it’s one thing to expose the Islamophobia happening outside of the community, but inside? So much worse. 

Perhaps that is one reason so many refuse to acknowledge spiritual abuse and abuse of power.

The truth, though, is pretty straightforward. Today’s tradition of ignoring any abuse of power is a far cry from our own faith’s history, during which cultural reform was a known occurrence. Archaic oppressive traditions that abused women were stopped in their tracks.

It’s time to make that change for our community today.

For too many generations, women have been told to bear the abuse because, “that’s just how he is, so try to not anger him.” But we’re finally seeing significant shifts in perspectives where women are quickly standing up for one another, asking what she needs and not blaming her for what happened to her. It’s high time that women have access to safe religious spaces.

Opening up these spaces of communication, both online and in communities needs to happen. Not enough is being done to heal all the hurt that Muslim women have experienced. HEART Women & Girls and MuslimARC are two organizations that work on the ground to provide that much-needed support to women and communities. Not only do they work to heal the trauma, but they are also proactive so that individuals recognize the signs of abuse and prejudice, and equip them with the knowledge to navigate that, helping themselves and others. 

Accountability, however, is not that easy to come across when discreditable behavior like the giveaway occurs.

For how much longer are we, as a community, willing to accept transgressions such as these?

This is not a criticism of the giveaway – that’s just the tip of the iceberg; it’s symptomatic of manipulative behavior to maintain, reinforce and increase power roles. It’s the rose-colored glasses so many choose to wear- those who are higher-ups in the community, and their following; the celebrity shayks and influencers who, when stories like these come to the surface, ripple through communities, shaking the belief people who look to them for sources of religious guidance and inspiration.

These leaders are not infallible, they are not saints, they’re just like any other man out there, and that’s something people forget. Incidents like these serve as reminders of their humanness.

I, for one, am no longer willing or comfortable to continue apologizing for the actions of men in Muslim communities, especially as a woman who wears a hijab. After years of being told that hijab-wearing women are our religion’s flag-bearers, I’m tired of swallowing my words when our community decides to ignore our requests during the worst moments of our lives.

It’s past time to change that. 

Movies Pop Culture

Time’s Up, unless you’re Bryan Singer

The infamous director of Bohemian Rhapsody, Bryan Singer, is possibly a rapist and a pedophile.

A recent investigative report published in The Atlantic features several men who say Singer abused them when they were underage boys. Here are his accusers: Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, who says Singer raped him when he was 17; Victor Valdovinos, who says Singer fondled his genitals when he was 13; Michael Egan who filed an (unsuccessful) lawsuit against Singer in 2014; and two men called ‘Andy’ and ‘Eric’ (to protect their identities) who say Singer had sex with them when they were underage.

Singer has denied these charges, calling The Atlantic story a “homophobic smear piece” and his accusers “a disreputable cast of individuals” but he may prove to be Hollywood’s greatest post-#MeToo test.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic of world-renowned musician and LGBTQ icon Freddie Mercury, a member of the British rock band Queen. The film has faced criticism over its handling of Mercury’s HIV diagnosis. His death from the disease in the early 1990s was an important moment for AIDS awareness.

What makes this whole thing so troubling for many is that Singer has often provided representation for the LGBTQ+ community – his bisexuality influencing his films, and his presence as a successful director providing hope. Now, it seems that he is destroying that legacy when accusing his critics of homophobia, using queerness as an excuse for rape. It is disgusting that he’s hiding behind the good name that the LGBTQ+ community worked so hard to obtain.

Last year at the Golden Globes, the red carpet featured a lot of black gowns as superstars showed their support for the victims of sexual harassment and abuse. Powerful men were dethroned: Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer and many, many more faced judgment. Hollywood launched the “Time’s Up!” movement which included a legal defense fund for victims of sexual assault and called on corporations to address gender inequality. It seemed like the time for misuse of power was truly up.

A year later Bohemian Rhapsody won ‘Best Motion Picture – Drama’ at the Golden Globes, and its lead star Rami Malek took home ‘Best Actor’. Singer was fired from the film two weeks before its release because of his absences from the set and disagreements with Malek. He is still credited as the sole director of the film. He didn’t attend the Globes, and Malek never thanked him in his speech.

Singer’s career continues to blossom. He was signed onto direct Red Sonja by Millenium Films whose CEO Avi Lerner said that he refused to believe the “agenda driven fake news” against Singer.

Bohemian Rhapsody is also nominated for seven BAFTAs and five Oscars including one for ‘Best Picture’. It received a GLAAD nomination too but that was withdrawn after the allegations surfaced. GLAAD – a media monitoring platform which rewards films and filmmakers celebrating LGBTQ+ stories – told Variety that, “This week’s story in The Atlantic documenting unspeakable harms endured by young men and teenage boys brought to light a reality that cannot be ignored or even tacitly rewarded”.

That is a brave move. Will the Oscars follow suit? When Harvey Weinstein was removed from the Academy, the Board of Governors said in a statement they wanted to send a message that “the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over” but the Board remains shockingly quiet over Singer. Oscar nominations have been revoked before, albeit only over technical reasons, but there seems to be no interest in removing Singer’s film from the list.

This matters because Singer’s career continues to grow without the accountability and justice Hollywood promised a year ago. None of the high profile actors, directors or actresses have spoken out against Bryan Singer by the time this article was written, and his fellow nominees have not taken the Academy to task for rewarding an abuser. Celebrities shouldn’t be held accountable for the actions of others but in this case, it was Hollywood itself that vowed to take on industry abuse as little as twelve months ago.

The Time’s Up campaign faced rightful critique around in 2018. After the Globes, many were put off by the activists of color who appeared on the red carpet alongside famous actresses almost as accessories used to accumulate ‘woke’ capital. Corporations used the occasion to advertise their products and the whole thing seemed to some as Hollywood’s self-congratulatory pat on the back without the industry making structural changes.

Avi Lerner’s decision to hire Singer is based partially on Bohemian Rhapsody’s immense profits. If the Academy chooses to reward the film without calling Singer out these profits are likely to grow and Singer’s career with flourish while his victims live with the knowledge that his abuse changed their lives for the worse.

Time’s Up released a statement praising GLAAD’s decision to revoke Bohemian Rhapsody’s nomination. But it needs to do more. There are no easy answers here since the film is a combination of the hard work and talent of many people, but you don’t get to win praise for supporting victims when convenient and then turn around and pretend to ignore abusers later.

As the Oscars draw closer, those closest to Bohemian Rhapsody (hey, Queen) need to help Singer’s victims get justice instead of pleading ignorance (looking at you, Rami Malek). It’s what Freddie Mercury would have wanted.