Claire Black: People don’t speak out when they know what they’re saying won’t be heard
THERE’S a difference between not saying something and not being heard, isn’t there? I only ask because in recent days I’ve been beginning to wonder whether it’s a distinction that’s always understood.
Why didn’t anyone shop Lance Armstrong for doping? Why didn’t anyone in his team reveal what they were being forced to do? Why didn’t anyone say anything about their suspicions, or indeed, their evidence about what Jimmy Savile was doing to underage girls? Why didn’t the girls say anything about what was being done to them?
I understand why people are asking these questions – in terms of the authorities, they’re perfectly valid and they should be answered – but they’re not the whole story. I’m sure there were some people in both cases who didn’t speak out. Why would they? How could they? Abusers and cheats coerce and bully. They silence their victims sometimes with fear, sometimes more insidiously by shaming them, or undermining them so completely that they believe they have no option but to say nothing.
But the fact is, often people did speak out. Both the girls who were being targeted by Savile and some of the people who worked with him and who witnessed what he was doing. But no one wanted to hear what they were saying.
People don’t speak out when they know what they’re saying won’t be heard. It’s a subtle thing, sometimes not even a conscious choice.
I heard Judy Finnegan talking the other day about having worked in an office where a senior male colleague used to expose himself. She was eager to make clear that he only did this after “a boozy lunch” and that really, apart from this behaviour, he was quite nice. Do you see how that worked? A boss walks around the office with his penis hanging out of his trousers and Finnegan, decades later, is still eager to make clear that it wasn’t such a big deal. Society doesn’t want to hear your complaints so don’t make them.
It’s hard to think what good can come of the revelations about Savile, so much damage has been caused, but maybe one thing would be that more attention is paid to how we can all start to listen more carefully so that when people reveal that bad things are happening, we hear them and we can help them.
AH JULIA Gillard. As Australia’s prime minister you don’t support equal marriage, which is a pity, but your take-down of opposition leader Tony Abbott was a glorious, defiantly delivered demolition of a man who deserved it. It was the work of a woman who has had to tolerate intolerable sexism for too long. And the reason that women (and men) all over the world have responded so positively is because that is not an unusual predicament to find oneself in. So let us take a leaf out of your book and declare as far as sexism is concerned enough is enough.
THIS week is National Baking week. But if, like me, you are addicted to the Great British Bake Off (#gbbo for the Tweeps) then every week is baking week while Mel, Sue, Paul and Mary work their magic in a tent in the countryside. Yes, it’s irritating when Paul tells the bakers that what they’re going to do isn’t going to work and they do it anyway and then he’s right. Yes, I too fear that Mary Berry is going to crack a tooth on a tough crust, but for the love of bicarb that programme is as good as any traybake I’ve ever eaten. Let’s all eat cake.
» Last week Claire... saw an exhibition of Sarah Lucas’s work and it made her laugh and gasp and feel slightly weird. A good result she reckons
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East