Ed Westwick's Sexual Assault Allegations Remind Us Likable People Aren't Always Good

Recently we have seen this wave in the entertainment industry of survivors coming forward and bringing attention to what has happened to them and who were their assaulters. These allegations have been brought to largely recognizable names such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and most recently Ed Westwick, a 30 year old actor who portrays a character known nearly worldwide: Chuck Bass. I can say with certainty that a large portion of the millennial population has enjoyed the award-winning drama series, Gossip Girl. Chuck Bass, a main character of the show, became an icon for his identifiable characteristics and on-screen romance with one of the show’s leading women. 

I will admit that I, like many other women, have labeled Westwick as one of my top “celebrity crushes” and swooned over his good looks, charm and of course, the British accent. So, consequently, when I was scrolling through my news feed and saw the story that actress Kristina Cohen had filed a police report with the LAPD and accused Westwick of sexual assault, I will admit I was shocked. My initial thoughts were that Westwick was in a serious relationship, donated significant amounts of money to philanthropic causes and was such a well-known and well-liked actor, there was no way this could be true. Almost immediately, I realized what was incorrect about my thinking. I was relating him to the popular character he brought to the table when starring in one of my favorite shows. I was trying to create a connection between his ability to play such a damaged character that eventually finds true love while becoming an amazing man to his capability to assault someone. And what I, unfortunately, noticed is that many others wanted to do the same and keep this mindset. 

If you go on Twitter, Instagram, or visit any other popular social media site you will notice that people were more accepting of the belief of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and tending to cast doubts on allegations that Westwick could be involved in something similar. Friends and colleagues I have talked to say things in conversation like “Can you believe the allegations against Westwick? They must not be true, his girlfriend is being so supportive of him and standing by him, how sweet! People are just trying to ruin his life.” Are we more willing to believe that Weinstein is capable of such a thing because his wife left him and because Westwick’s girlfriend is staying? We, as outsiders, do not know not only the truth but also the dynamics of what is going on within the investigation. The allegations against Westwick have been neither confirmed nor denied; however, a majority of us are guilty of making assumptions based on our perceptions. 

Allegations against actors like Westwick are important to note in our society because they bring up an uncomfortable reality and an even more uncomfortable conversation. We are quick, as we should be, to believe survivors when an allegation is made against someone we don't necessarily recognize, identify with or make connections to. However, allegations against Westwick may make some of us feel uncomfortable to even support watching Gossip Girl when we think about what he has been accused of doing. As stated, there have been neither confirmations nor denials to the allegations against Westwick. However, this charge brings up an important idea we should all consider: It is amazing that we have women within the entertainment industry and everywhere who now feel comfortable to come forward with what has happened to them. They need our continued support.

Rape OF ANY KIND never acceptable. Any sex act on another individual while they are not enthusiastically consenting is, in every sense, absolutely intolerable. We hope change will happen, but we need to remember to be accepting of ALL allegations; whether they are against a student athlete at Stanford University of an actor that may have happened to be the celebrity crush from our favorite TV show.