A Year After Harvey Weinstein

It’s been just over a year since the New York Times and the New Yorker published their articles publicly unveiling the industry wide secret of Harvey Weinstein’s systematic assault against women.

Since then, several other public figures from across different industries have been outed as well, such as Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Brett Kavanaugh, etc. In fact, there’s a growing list of over 70 men. Even one of my favorite authors, Junot Diaz, has made his way onto this list.

So, what’s happened since the domino effect initiated by Weinstein?

There have been protests and new movements to fight for women’s autonomy over their own body, such as the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaign, more and more women have come out to publicly name their assailants, and powerful men have been stripped of their titles and positions.

All in all, sexual harassment has forced its way from being a hush-hush topic to a highly visible problem, and this is important progress.

However, is this enough?

Maybe, in the beginning.

At first, when men were accused, they came out and apologized. They’d say they were deeply ashamed- that they wanted to learn from their mistakes and listen to women. But that strategy has led to men staying silent on their crimes. This silence has allowed them to slink out of the public eye.

But now, those men who silently disappeared are starting to crawl back into the public light. Take Louis C.K for example. After taking a nine month break from standup comedy, he performed at an esteemed comedy club in NYC. In his routine, never did he mention his gross misbehavior and abuse of power. Instead, he went along as if it was an ordinary show for him and the nine months of silence had never happened.

Then, there was that strategy of arguing over the semantics of whether a forced kiss, unwanted groping, open masturbation, and really anything that fell short of rape, should be punished. This led to women being accused of being too liberal with the term “sexual assault”.

And now, apparently, too many men have been accused, so women must be making stories up for fame, power, and/or money.

How did this movement that was supposed to empower women and expose the systematic sexism, violence, and oppression against women, turned against us?

Despite the progress we have made, we must do more. While sexual assault entering the topic of public discussion was once a victory, it has entered a new phase where it has become normalized. Now that the initial shock that people who we’ve admired could commit acts of systematic violence has worn off, we’ve started to freely admit these people back into society. What is a more perfect example than our most recent appointment of a rapist to the Supreme Court?

While I don’t have an answer to this festering problem, we cannot let sexual assault become part of our cultural norm.