#metoo ... And then what?

With astonishment, I read the interview of Arie Boomsma in LINDA. magazine no. 165, where he talked about Job Gosschalk, a famous casting director in the Netherlands, who is accused of abusing his power to behave inappropriately. Like many others, he was also invited for a casting in the evening and told to imagine himself to be aroused by a movie he is watching and to touch himself. Gosschalk didn't just say this all of sudden, but he slowly build it up (like photographers do, talking models out of their clothes and convincing them to pose nude) and he made it seem like it is normal and professional behavior. You would be a pretty darn good actor to be able to shake off the shame and do such a personal and intimate thing in front of someone you are not intimate with or in front of a camera for the whole world to see. He basically used his professional title (he is a famous casting director, so he should know what he is doing) and the pride and ambition of the actor (you want to show your best performance and you would do whatever it takes to be famous) to his advantage.

Boomsma was strong enough (he didn't have to make a living in acting, as he is also a good presenter and he has his own fitness club) to tell him that he is not comfortable with doing that. He said that the whole mood shifted to an uncomfortable situation and Gosschalk was acting all cranky. He felt like he broke something. I was surprised to see that Gosschalk was able to make him feel like it was his fault that things turned ugly. Boomsma said that after that, his bond with Gosschalk only got stronger, just because he was able to set his boundaries (and Gosschalk respecting those boundaries too). After that incident, he worked together with him for a couple of fun projects too. Even now, when Gosschalk's bad behavior over the years has come to light, he feels like he needs to stand up for him, as Gosschalk has done some stupid things, but at the same time, he is a talented, funny, and loyal man. Boomsma said that it is important to emphasize that nobody just has one side. To me, it sounds like a typical example of Stockholm syndrom. He was in a scary situation and to stay on his good side and never see his bad side again, he treated Gosschalk nicely and kept their relationship good by not telling anyone what happened between them.

What about the other victims? What kind of message is Boomsma giving them? That it is their fault for not saying no and walking away, knowing that Gosschalk could ruin their career and destroy their dreams of being an actor? Is it the same feeling as the people who stand by and do nothing, when someone is bullied? Better you than me? Or are the victims just faceless and nameless objects that don't matter to him, while Gosschalk is someone who he spend a lot of fun times with and the bond that they have is too precious to break? He is a good and valuable person to the whole world, so he is allowed to have a bit of fun on the side at the expense of some small potatoes, who nobody cares about or who chose to do it to advance their career themselves anyway? 

Lately, I am seeing a lot reports and comments about forgiving those abusers (it was years ago!, it wasn't a bloody and violent rape or anything!, why come out with these kind of stories now and not back then!?, they already apologized, what more do you want?, when can they come back?, etc.) and telling the victims to move on like nothing happened. I cannot talk on behalf of the other victims, but instead of (only) punishment, I want to see change.                      

What kind of change do we want to see?

The whole #metoo discussion has gotten so diverted and all over the place that we might not get anything to change. It is important to just lay out the goals that we want to achieve. I haven't given it enough thought, but here are a few things that need to change.    

What normal female-male interactions are, should be taught and thoroughly discussed at school. I have a feeling that boys learn how to treat women from watching how their dad treats their mother, from the cool older guys on the street, or even, from TV series and programs, commercials, music videos, porn, websites, and social media. The problem is that many things they see are old-fashioned, patriarchal role patterns, which will pass on to the following generations if we don't stop it. Bad behavior such as beating women to obedience, humiliating them, scaring them, and not giving them or taking their household money, might have worked in the past, but now that women can be financially independent and be fine on their own, it is just something that pushes them away. Not acting like a stupid macho guy that doesn't take no for an answer, doesn't mean that you can no longer be manly or flirt with women.

Girls too should be taught that they no longer need to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others or the family and be more selfish and go after their dreams and look for what makes them happy. They no longer have to be tied down by stupid rules and they can do whatever they want. When do we start realizing how stupid revenge porn, victim blaming, and slut shaming is? It is like chains forged by men and enforced by fellow women to be a proper, but unhappy woman, who needs to suffer in silence. We are also not only our appearance and our purity. We have a lot more to bring to the table, as long as we get the chance. We are not overreacting and not a pain, who can't take a joke, when we speak up about behavior that makes us feel uncomfortable.  

Also, I don't know why people in general, seem to believe that with power, comes abuse and that nothing can be done about that. Some time ago, there was a big scandal about high-ranked employees of a charity, who abused their power to take advantage of girls in the countries they were helping in a time of crisis. Whistle blowers are also often treated badly, so even if someone knew about it, they kept quiet about it.

Can't we do something about this? Maybe, something like an anonymous alert system for bad behavior, which is supervised by a changing committee, working in different departments and unrelated to each other, and who have the power to fire someone. Or an online ranking, which is made up of companies or schools, who have caught sexual offenders and punished them properly. It should be seen as a good thing and not give them a bad image. It was just like with faulty products, companies rather wanted to keep things quiet, even if if meant that people could die from it. But now, it is generally seen as a good sign, as it shows that companies have excellent product quality control and it won't let any small flaw on the product pass.           

If I missed something that should be changed or added, feel free to let me know.       

In an interview with the Volkskrant, Arie Boomsma talked about how he was sexually abused by someone (18 years old) in his group of friends, when he was 14 years old. For years, he wondered why he did that to him. He saw that he had girl friends, so he wasn't gay. He wanted to know if he planned it, to sexually abuse him after getting him drunk. Only until he spoke with another guy, who experienced the same thing with that guy, he felt relieved that it wasn't because of what he did. He was taken advantage of because he was young and naive.

First, I think it is really good that Arie Boomsma shared such an experience with everyone, as it will make it easier for people to come forward with their story. Guys will not have to feel ashamed or scared that they will be seen as gay.

Boomsma says that it didn't affect his sex life, but I do feel like it affected him in the way that he is so obsessed with working out. I had a period like that too, that I was really obsessed with working out and eating healthy and not too much. I somehow wanted to compensate for the gross feeling that my body had. I had to follow rules, be in control over things, because I was helpless when it happened and it must be something I did that caused it, so I did my best to not do something wrong. I kept myself busy with school work and got good grades, so that I had no time and energy left to think about what happened. I looked ok from the outside, but it was not healthy what I was doing. I thought I was ok at the time too, but when I look back, I wished I had dealt with my problems earlier. He should also be careful around the time when his own children will be around the age he was abused, as most people experience a mental breakdown with all bad and unresolved memories drowning them.

I am also curious why he never felt the need to mention or report it to the police. Because if he did, the other guy might not have been sexually abused at a young age too. He might have just seen it as a simple thing as children exploring sexuality. But there could have been more issues lying underneath. A way to deal with child sexual abuse is to do it to others (being the one in control, the agressor), experiencing the act again in a safe environment (with someone you trust and love), or being a victim again and trying to help the abuser change. I hope it is just me overreacting, but either way, that guy should go talk with someone why he felt the need to abuse younger guy friends like that.

Arie Boomsma says that he doesn't want to cut off ties with Job Gosschalk, especially when he is attacked by everyone. There is a time for anger, forgiveness, and new chances. If he really likes to stand up for people who is attacked by everyone, he should have a talk with the victims who were not given any chance in the acting business just because they made Job Gosschalk angry and didn't obey him. They were also attacked by everyone in showbiz and they had nobody to support them. Could you please support them now? Also, I believe in forgiveness too, but for forgiveness, you need to actually know what you did wrong and promise to be a better person from now on. Job Gosschalk only admitted that he crossed some boundaries in meetings with actors and insisted that there was no touching involved. He is basically minimizing his deeds and the impact on the victims and trying to be the victim here. It is hard to give him a new chance like this.

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