Recognize pattern of male ignorance toward sexual assault
Harvey Weinstein, a name once solely representative of Hollywood’s elite, is now marred with the taste of disdain and contempt. As the discouraging trend of powerful Hollywood men such as Bill Cosby and Bill O'Reilly being accused of sexual assault continues, Harvey Weinstein only adds his name to the growing list. The accounts of Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and assault distinguish themselves, as he is one of the biggest producers in Hollywood. Weinstein has launched the careers of some of the biggest actors of the 21st century through his acclaimed films such as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Chicago.” The ways in which he allegedly manipulated women, which many more are beginning to speak about, often put their careers in jeopardy.
Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o wrote a chilling account about how Weinstein threatened to ruin her reputation in the industry and not cast her in any films if she did not sleep with him, . Hollywood is no stranger to cases of sexual assault. In fact, those who spoke out against Harvey Weinstein have created a platform for numerous survivors of sexual assault in the business; the survivors are not only those of Weinstein’s alleged acts, but of other directors and producers. The Weinstein scandal also led to a social media campaign led by actress Alyssa Milano. Milano took the idea for this campaign from activist Tarana Burke, who piloted a similar one 10 years ago, . Milano’s idea was that if people would tell their stories, or at least write the phrase “me too” on social media, the internet would be filled with the identities of those who have been assaulted. Though some may view this campaign as a way to force survivors to share their stories, I saw it as a way for the internet to provide a safe community for women to know that they’re not alone in these incidents. Whether it’s a catcall, a rape or every type of incident in between, all of that interaction can be characterized as sexual assault. Social media has been filled with testimonies that show that no one is immune from the cruelty and disrespect people — particularly men — can show for women and individuals of all gender identities.
With the news of each allegation, the question that comes to my mind is, “Why now? Why is this the time when people actually care about this issue?” According to a chronicling Weinstein’s allegations, sexual harassment first really came into the public eye when then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas’ former employee Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment in 1991. After this, businesses began holding mandatory seminars on sexual harassment in the workplace, which have since become a staple in every American office. However, it seems as though the issue was still ignored up into the new millennium. In 1997, the news broke that acclaimed filmmaker Woody Allen was marrying his stepdaughter, Soon-Yi Previn, . Following that, other allegations his past treatment of women came to light. Since then, he has become associated with this type of behavior, yet he continues to receive awards and critical acclaim for his films.
Throughout the new millennium, there have been several examples of other actors who have exhibited this type of behavior and received the same acclaim that Allen has. In fact, Casey Affleck, the winner of the 2017 Academy Award for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea” was also accused of sexual harassment by two women and many people protested his win, . More and more women are bringing to light the shocking reality that this year’s Oscar for best actress will be given out by Affleck, an alleged sexual predator. What does that say for our world?
The fact that all of these men have gotten away with their actions shows that our society is one that is male-dominated and male-centric. However, what these past couple of weeks have proven is that this truth is finally leading to action.
Many news outlets, including Vulture and USA Today, have collected the accounts of the women who have shared their stories about Weinstein. , actress and director, Asia Argento compiled a list of the now-82 women claiming to have been sexually harassed or assaulted by Weinstein. With each new chilling account, another man should wake up and realize how women have been taken advantage of in this world. On my Facebook feed during the week of the #metoo campaign, I saw several men take to the platform to share that they’d learned that sexual harassment and assault were more common than they had previously realized and that it even happened to people they did not suspect. In fact, I would guarantee that every person reading this article has had it happen to them or knows someone who has. , an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. The “grab her by the pussy” mentality of our sitting president is a red flag that this type of behavior is the standard of how women should be treated. As our society morphs into one that is more socially conscious, so too should the actions of men toward women. I was eating dinner with friends the other night and one male friend commented about how he hasn’t spoken about his female friends in an “objectifying way” for a certain length of time. The fact that this has to be celebrated as if it is some sort of accomplishment similar to that of making healthy eating choices or not smoking should also be a signal of the normalization of this behavior.
Objectification, harassment, an inappropriate touch, a catcall, a drugged rape — all of those actions, both big and small, are daily realities for women and men of the world. It is our duty as humans to take care of one another and to make sure that our friends can walk through this world without fear. If the only thing standing in our way is our male peers, then it should be no problem then for the men of the world to take one look at themselves and ask, “Would I want to be treated this way?”