Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not represent the views of Her Campus FSU.
Since the recent wave of sexual assault allegations, and in light of NBC’s Matt Lauer’s termination due to an alleged 2001 assault, many people are asking, “Why now?” If the alleged assault happened over sixteen years ago, why bring it to light now? In the case of Roy Moore (in which his alleged romantic relations with a 14-year-old took place in the 1970s) people are curious as to why this matters over forty years later. Years have passed and people have grown up, so why now?
To that I say, why not now? Whether the alleged assault happened fifty years ago or yesterday, to 50 women or to one, it's still relevant. For years, women have been oppressed in terms of status; not only do they get paid less, but there are far fewer women in positions of power than men as well. To combat this, women have had to work twice as hard to try and become equal. Certain men, like Harvey Weinstein, have used this to their advantage by manipulating women to do what they want — an actress who wants to land the role she’s been working so hard for might be less inclined to say no to the man who determines her success. So, what does this all have to do with talking about sexual assault allegations that occurred years ago?
These women were encouraged and, in some situations, forced to remain silent by powerful men. Because these men are in positions of authority, with pull in various industries like film, television, and politics, many argue that these women waited to speak up so that they could have their 15 minutes of fame. Yet, the victims who have accused other powerful men of sexual assault have not even given their names, showing that it’s not about the fame; it’s about wanting their voices heard.
Unfortunately, getting one’s voice heard is not easy. The fear of victimization from fellow peers and authoritative figures, matched with the threat of losing one’s job plays a part in determining how and when these allegations come to light. Speaking up is hard, but when other courageous, brave women speak up, it helps pave the path for other women to follow suit. The hashtag #MeToo went viral, showing that there is strength in numbers. Standing alongside other dauntless women and telling the world that you, too, were sexually assaulted is a brave act that should not be diminished by the timing of when it’s done.
Every day, women are making strides in closing the gap between men and women’s inequalities, in the hopes that there will be a day when women and men are truly equal. That there will come a day when men and women get paid the same, that men and women get treated fairly in society and in the workplace. That there will come a day when people stop promoting silence and instead start supporting one another’s valiant efforts to speak the truth. That one day people will stop asking, "Why now?" and instead ask:
Why not now?