I put together these two reports: one, that legislators in New York are proposing to make non-disclosure agreements illegal in case of workplace harassment. And two, this story of a courageous British woman, Zelda Perkins, who is defying possible punitive retaliation to break her non-disclosure agreement and speak about what she claims happened to her.
So here’s my idea. If George Clooney and Matt Damon and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [who award the Oscars] and all the other male actors and male commentators and film industry bodies want to do more than just sound very good, they could band together and set up a fund to indemnify women who have been bullied or abused and who wish to break their non-disclosure agreements.
In other words, they’d say “If you’ve been bullied and then forced to sign an NDA and you want to tell the truth, we’ll give you the money to repay it or underwrite your legal fees if you get sued.” And so all those women, many many women, could speak out and tell the truth. And many victimising abusers would get what they deserve.
Maybe, there are legal problems in doing that. But these would be carried on the broad shoulders of a powerful consortium of rich successful men and rich powerful companies, not come crushing down on the shoulders of one small-scale individual.
In these situations, NDAs are vile. Effectively it means that someone who has been bullied or sexually abused in a work situation, is then subject to further bullying by lawyers – amoral enablers who’ll do anything for money – to keep them quiet. Wouldn’t it be great if a whole cohort of women suddenly could get their voices back? Western society is a world where it is easy to speak truth about power, but very hard to make that have any effect. This is something that could make a difference. So please stand forward, the first male film star to pledge money for this fund.
(For the laborious avoidance of doubt, clearly people of all sexes and in all industries suffer workplace bullying and sexual abuse. I’m sure intelligent people will understand why I am focusing on the pure simplicity of abuse of (a) women by (b) men in (c) the film industry.)