In October of 2017, reports emerged that Hollywood super-producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted as many as 57 women. In the weeks that followed, the reports became more and more horrifying: Weinstein had engaged in a brutal campaign of crushing the reputations and careers of his potential accusers, had gaslighted them, and used actual spies to stalk them. As the reports about Weinstein steamrolled, more accusers came forward... this time against other notable men from other industries. James Toback. Matt Lauer. Kevin Spacey. Russell Simmons. The list became longer and longer every day, with stomach-churning revelations the routine par for the course for each accusation: Matt Lauer had installed a button he used to close colleagues in. Russell Simmons raped 17-year-olds while Brett Ratner watched. James Toback had assaulted around 300 women. The influx of horrific stories brought the #MeToo movement to the forefront, and had many guys wondering – "How did I not know about this?"
Turns out, they did.
Or rather, women knew, and tried to tell men, but they consistently refused to listen or believe women. In the wake of the Weinstein revelations, however, many articles and opinion pieces have popped up with headlines asking people to do exactly that… not that it’s worked. The problem with #believewomen is that people might say they want to, but when it comes down to it, they have problems doing so.
Take, for instance, actress Lena Dunham, who tweeted the usual platitudes about believing women.
Of course, the moment an actress of color, Aurora Perrineau, accused one of Dunham’s own writers of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager, Dunham backtracked and released a statement that cast doubt on the actress’ claims, leading to the now infamous “hipster racist” quote by author and former Lenny writer Zinzi Clemmons.
Turns out actually believing women is, like, super hard.
Believing women is one of those rallying cry call to actions that sounds very good on paper and when you’re waving your stock “I’m a feminist” card around, but it tends to not work so well in practice. See all those people voting for accused pedophile Roy Moore.
Believing women is particularly difficult when said woman is of color, or identifiably LGBTQ, as in the case of Jeffrey Tambor's accusers.
When Tambor’s assistant Van Barnes accused the Transparent actor of sexual harassment, he swiftly released a statement saying:
I have never been a predator — ever. I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.
Then another accuser came forward – this time actress Trace Lysette, a series regular on Transparent.
Both Barnes and Lysette are trans women.
All of these factors may be the reason SNL waded into the contentious debate with a stinging new music video – "Welcome To Hell."
The living burn of a skit featured the women of SNL and guest of the night, Saoirse Ronan, and proudly declared “Welcome To Hell,” a tongue-in-cheek wink at men who had no idea that the world was a crappy, crappy place for women.