Ayesha Omar recently held an important session with Hollywood actor and prominent activist of the global #MeToo movement, Rose McGown about sexual harassment in their respective industries. McGowan was a prominent part of the Harvey Weinstein trial. In 2017, she opened up about the sexual assault she faced at the hands of the now-convicted American producer.
During a live Instagram session on Friday last week, McGowan revealed how she mustered up the courage to publicly speak up about her ordeal. However, Ayesha’s conversation with her was more about her journey onward and where does she stand now in life after Weinstein has been convicted.
“I always had a voice, just no one was listening,” McGowan said adding, “I was waiting for society to be ready… I didn’t have friends. No women’s groups to help me, nothing. It was never my shame; I waited for a long time that someone would appear to help and make a difference and then I thought, nope, it’s gonna be me.”
“I came to Mexico to heal. I mean, Weinstein was only put in jail five months ago but I’ve spent a good 20-21 years with a fat, monstrous foot on my neck and that monster represented the patriarchy, the society, and his accomplices,” McGowan said talking about how she has healed herself.
Interestingly, McGowan also shared that she needed US President Donald Trump in power. “I needed Trump because honestly, Hilary (Clinton) protected Weinstein in a major way. But more than that, I needed Trump to show people clearly that, ‘This is racism’, ‘this is sexism’, ‘this is what ugliness really looks like’ in a very black and white way,” she said.
During the conversation, Ayesha also opened up about how was subjected to assault by an industry giant at the very beginning of her career. The actress has spoken about her experiences earlier as well but this time she divulged into a few details.
In Pakistani society, fear and shame are two dominant emotions that rule women, especially in such circumstances. “You (Rose McGowan) talk about anger, but we are not allowed to be angry,” Ayesha said.
“Two years ago, I finally allowed myself to acknowledge and talk about my own sexual harassment story by a powerful monster, twice my age. I was this young 23-year-old, fresh out of college, and this started happening. And it went on for years,” Ayesha shared adding, “I put in a box, and I said okay, this is happening in my life, I have to deal with it. I didn’t wanna share it with anybody. I let it stay there for 15 years.”
Ayesha went to on say that when one of her friends from the industry came out with her story, TV channels started calling Ayesha to ask: ‘Do you think she’s telling the truth?’ “And I said ‘I would believe any victim’. They asked me if sexual harassment happens in the industry and that’s the first time I said ‘yes’. They asked if it happened to you, and I said ‘yes’. I will talk about it someday, but not today. I still haven’t named my monster but I’ve started talking about it,” Ayesha shared.
McGowan also believes that the shame associated to sexual assault survivors is not limited to Pakistan.
““Girls are trained to be polite at all costs, to shove our shame down, how it’s our problem, we did this, it’s our fault that we showed our ankles – or whatever it is to be blamed — while the reality of it is that no, it is a sick society and no, I’m not talking about Pakistan. I’m talking about the world,” she expressed.
You can watch the complete conversation here: