In the past few weeks, there have been an influx of sexual harassment victims coming forward with their stories of the influential men who have sexually assaulted them. The Harvey Weinstein incident served as a catalyst to a multitude of other people speaking out against men such as Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose and more recently, Ed Westwick.
Following the shocking news about Harvey Weinstein—who has been accused of sexual harassment, including inappropriate demands for massages from women, asking for or performing oral sex without consent, unwanted sexual advances, and rape—a multitude of other famous male figures have been exposed afterwards. Many women came forward to add to the allegations against the producer, including Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o, and Gwenyth Paltrow. Since the NY Times article that shed light on to this topic, and the commentary of others who began to come forward to add their stories or weigh in on the situation, the subject at hand has become a major conversation topic.
Since the Weinstein accusations, eight anonymous women claim that Charlie Rose has made lewd phone calls, has walked around in front of them naked, and has groped people non-consenually. Louis C.K. has also been accused of sexual harassment towards multiple women, including comedic duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov. These two explained that C.K. invited them to his hotel room and masturbated in front of them, which was nonconsensual.
A huge case involved the accusations of Kevin Spacey, who was spoken out against by actor Anthony Rapp. Rapp explained that Spacey had sexually assaulted the actor while they both were working on Broadway together in 1986, claiming that Spacey had thrown him on the bed and proceeded to get on top of him. Spacey responded to the allegations by stating that he did not recall the situation and proceeded to come out as gay in the same tweet.
What do all of these men have in common?
While there are plenty of other accusations in the media, it is interesting to examine what all of these specific men have in common: power. These men have the ability to control what happens to those who don’t obey them or want their careers destroyed.
Recently, President Trump weighed in on an accusation against Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate who was accused by four women of making sexual advances towards young girls in their 20’s while he was in his 30’s. While Trump supported Moore and emphasized that the accusations were false, he has also said that he is “happy” that women are finally sharing their stories on the important issue.
This is funny to think about, considering how the president of our nation has been accused of sexual harassment since the Weinstein story surfaced. However, for some reason many people seem to glaze over the idea of the President doing any wrong, and will quickly sweep the idea under the rug and focus on other figures. This isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of sexual harassment (he has been accused in the past of inappropriate sexual talk, nonconsensual groping, and rape) but he has denied every single story and insisted that none of those claims are true.
In one instance, Kristin Anderson explained how he touched her privates, and afterwards she said, “It wasn’t a sexual come-on. I don’t know why he did it. It was like just to prove that he could do it and nothing would happen. There was zero conversation. We didn’t even really look at each other. It was very random, very nonchalant on his part.” I found this specific quote to be fascinating, considering how this is what all of the men accused have in common. The wielding of so much power in the entertainment world and industry allows for a lot of space to use one’s power for either good or evil, but these men did not use their power with good intentions.
Will any good stem from these incidents?
It’s easy to feel hopeless during this seemingly endless stream of accusations. But it’s important to remember that up until recently, stories like these have been easily overlooked. However, now that famous figures have also been speaking up as victims to these figures, eyes are beginning to open.
Another big change that has been sparked by the revealing of these stories is the #MeToo movement on social media. These stories have influenced girls everywhere to post a status that has the hashtag #MeToo in it if you have been sexually harassed or assaulted. This act has gained a massive amount of attention, and is progressive and extremely shocking to many considering how many people have been assaulted. To many, it is friends, family, coworkers, peers, etc. Even on my timeline, the speaking out of girls who I never would have known had been traumatized by this issue had been a real eye opener.
What does this mean for the future of sexual assault culture?
It is both horrifying and inspiring to see the amount of cases surfacing. However, it is good to know that people finally feel comfortable sharing their story. The amount of influential figures speaking out against these powerful men has drawn people’s attention and encouraged a culture of empathy and listening. The support of other famous men coming forward to side with affected women is also a huge step forward to getting others to sympathize. Even the movement of people in your own life coming forward to share their stories is causing a huge uproar.