On February 24, the news broke that Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of two of five criminal charges. This included one count of first degree criminal sexual assault, and one count of rape in the third degree. His sexual assault allegations came in October 2017, from dozens of women in the film industry. Following the news, the #MeToo movement was born — thousands of individuals sharing their stories of sexual misconduct to shed light on harassment and call out perpetrators.
The #MeToo movement definitely saw a comeback after Weinstein’s conviction. For many it was a victory that the court finally recognized that inappropriate sexual acts do and can happen to many women. However, it was obvious that he was not charged for three other serious charges. The jury found him not guilty of predatory sexual assault, which could have led to a life sentence. In light of this, here are some insights to reflect on.
Time and time again, women that interacted with Weinstein noticed him to be a ‘bully’. Lupita Nyong’o, who wrote about her encounter with him here, called him charming but manipulative, and always used to getting what he wants. This is a big part of why he is a sexual predator: he knew that he was successful and could manipulate others. The #Metoo movement raised awareness of toxic bullying behavior of being entitled because of status and expecting others to adjust to their inappropriate behavior.
Lines are gray in Hollywood where intimacy is seen as part of the profession. It is common for actors to perform sexual acts on camera, which may blur the line between what is viewed as professional and what isn’t. In no way does this mean that people can violate these circumstances. Weinstein knew these women were aspiring actresses and he took advantage of it by sexually harassing them. Beware of men (and women) who belittle others and abuse their power.
There is a need for the public to understand that sexual assault can happen to anyone, not just women. My hope is that the #MeToo movement grows more inclusive. Yes, sexual harassment occurs to significantly more women than men. But society should not erase the voices of the minority that also experience sexual violence.
Moving forward, the #MeToo movement needs to welcome men and non-binary individuals into the conversation on consent and sexual violation. Making men allies to victims and survivors will greatly help the fight to end sexual assault. In college, dialogue on rape and other topics should be openly discussed. In the corporate world, training should be given to people of all professional levels. It is important that we find a mentor whom we can trust, particularly for women who work in male-dominated fields. The same goes for men who work in female-dominated industries!
The Weinstein saga and #MeToo movement was life-changing for me and many others. My hope is that this conversation will progressively put an end to sexual violence.
Images courtesy of HerCampus Media Library