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The Impact of the Harvey Weinstein Scandal

Not long after her 22nd birthday, Gwyneth Paltrow got the opportunity of a lifetime for an aspiring young actress in Hollywood.

Hungry for something much bigger than herself, Paltrow landed the role of ‘Emma’ in an upcoming Hollywood Blockbuster destined to have box office success. Like many, Paltrow curated her decisions with the help of trusted industry members, mentors, friends and family. When landing roles, she thanked her mom, her management team, and the producers responsible for facilitating roles for her talent.

That is until, she was corned by her producer, Harvey Weinstein, and sexually harassed.

Like many women, Paltrow left with a new future. One of silence, burden, and a fear of formulating words against someone who held power over her talent. In Hollywood, words are only as powerful as your scripts. So what does that mean for a person whose words will have an incriminating impact on who produces the scripts?

To many, Paltrow had seemed to be the epitome of an exception. As an Oscar-winning actress with a net worth of over 100 million, she is a woman who lives a life of fame, style, and wealth. Through the projector, Paltrow is a woman whose relatability seems respectfully out of reach. Until, October 5th, 2017, when the New York Times released an article that found thousands of women, relating to Hollywood elites like Paltrow, Ashley Judd and Angelina Jolie, as victims of sexual assault. These women are just three of a few dozen who chose to publically disclose horrors of sexual harassment, assault, and intimidation from a mutual male colleague. Unfortunately, this combination of stories has been found too uncomfortably relatable for many women around the world.

The New York Times’ investigation triggered the world, and challenged unspoken Hollywood secrets, when it released a comprehensive investigation describing a detailed history of sexual assaults and cover-ups by top producer, Harvey Weinstein.

Since the release of the NY Times story, many celebrated women in Hollywood have come forward to share their own encounters with Weinstein.

Over 30 women within the entertainment industry have chosen to publically share their assault stories. By sharing their own, each one weaved together a blanket of cover-ups that has long silenced the discussion of sexual assault within the political and entertainment industry.

“I know that everybody- I mean everybody– in Hollywood knows that it’s happening,” said actress Emma De Caunes to the New York Times

Along with Caunes, women shared commentary along with their descriptions of the assaults. They discuss the pressure to put their careers above themselves based on the fear of coming forward and being fired, or accused of lying. However, it’s not just women in Hollywood who share this perception.

The Weinstein scandal has caused a social media movement for women across the county to share their own assault stories using the hashtag #MeToo.

The Weinstein scandal has pulled back the covers to expose a darker side of society. One that has kept survivors of sexual assault hidden in fear while sexual assailants, like Weinstein, continue a vicious cycle of predatory behavior. Now that the world is finally paying attention, survivors are using #MeToo to keep the attention growing so that more people will become engaged and concerned with preventing sexual assaults in this country.

In the first week alone, the #MeToo hashtag had been used over 100,000 times on Twitter alone. Women are taking to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to share their encounters with sexual harassment in their everyday lives.

The history of Harvey Weinstein is one that is dark, intimidating and unsettling. But as hard as it is to face, it’s the beginning of a well-needed conversation in this country – an inclusive and constructive conversation necessary in order to rid the ignorance of rape culture in this country.

With the attention on this conversation comes pressure on politicians and industry leaders to begin working to protect survivors and pay attention to harassment within their own workplace. Harvey Weinstein has been criticized by the world, but it was the women who came forward that changed it.

Amelia Burns is an active blogger and student currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Temple University, in Philadelphia. Amelia thrives on fashion, politics and pop culture. She enjoys traveling often and spontaneously. Amelia dreams of one day working for CNN and hopes to pursue a career in political or entertainment commentary. You can check out more work by her at theameliaburns.com and at her Instagram: @ameliachristineburns
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