30 Oct 2017

#NotMe -- Austrian actress enjoys sexual advances at work

The Facebook posts of an Austrian actress are making headlines as she shares her story of never being a victim of sexual harassment but enjoying sexual advances instead.

Julia Sahlender
Julia Sahlender Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
#NotMe -- Austrian actress enjoys sexual advances at work - NewsMavens
Actress Nina Proll at the Nestroy-Theaterpreis. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The past few weeks have brought upon revelations and discussions regarding sexual harassment - finally. What has been a process long overdue began at the beginning of October with an article about the Hollywood producer #Harvey_Weinstein, allegedly responsible for decades of harassment and abuse. With a list of well-known actresses among the accusers, it seemed finally "important enough" for people to care about, even though it's been a problem women and men have been dealing with for a long time.

After the first Weinstein revelations, more and more women from different countries and professions, came out with stories of harassment and the abuse of power. Female politicians, aides working at the EU Parliament, actresses -- they all started to come forward. Alongside with them, thousands of women shared their stories under the social media hashtag #metoo. To a lot of people it seemed to have been eye-opening, and made them realize how many women endured some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lives. The hashtag incited discussion and sparked attention internationally. 

As the original debate was about sexual harassment in show business, a lot of the follow-up stories were too. Just like one article in the Austrian weekly magazine Woman. In it, several actresses and TV presenters talked about their experiences of harassment in the creative industry of Austria. They spoke of the abuse of power and the fear of losing their jobs or never being cast again. The "trade" of sex for a job is described as a common practice in the industry.

One actress, Nina Proll, did not agree with the accounts of her colleagues and felt the urge to share her alternative view on the debate

In a lengthy Facebook post, that began with the hashtag #NotMe, she asked: why do feminists always insist on women being victims? She also pledged that in her 20 years as an actress in the industry, she was never harassed. Instead, she enjoys sexual advances made by men, and sees them as a compliment rather than assault. She went on to say that she would be ashamed of herself if she "went hawking around with these stories".

The post got a lot of attention and was widely discussed on social media. Many users, a lot of them men, expressed their approval and praise for the actress' outspokenness, saying how women with enough self-confidence would not even become victims because they would simply say "no!" loud enough.

But others heavily criticized her for her words and the fact that she used her platform in such a negative way. Several journalists, like Hanna Herbst from Vice Austria and Nana Siebert from Woman, wrote articles directly responding to Proll's post. They were especially critical of her blurring the lines between flirting and sexual harassment. Many also took to Twitter to voice their anger over the inconsiderate comments made by the actress.

In a latter post, Proll responded stating that people misunderstood her intention. Her comments were never about women who had to endure "actual violence", but the actresses claiming that they had to tolerate "unbearable things" in order to have a successful career. She ended the post by saying "I stick to it: Not Me".

Details from the story:

  • Nina Proll is a well-known actress in Austria. She has appeared in both films and theater productions.
  • Her original post was published on October 25 and has since been widely shared and liked 5,000 times. She has now posted several follow-up texts in response to the numerous comments and public reactions that were disapproving of her original post.
  • The original post has apparently been removed by Facebook for at least a few hours because, according to Proll's account, it went against the community’s guidelines.
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