With the explosion surrounding Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s flurry of claims of sexual harassment and assault, women across the country – and across the world – have taken to social media using the hashtag #MeToo to come forward about experiences they’ve had with the same subjects. It’s truly astounding to see faces put to a culture a lot of people recognize as plaguing the world, but some people (some men) have given a worrying amount of astonishment to it.
Although presumed innocent until proven guilty, Weinstein has a pretty fuming fire lit under his ass, which has only been growing in recent days. It’s highly likely that most, if not all, of these women are coming from a true place of societal pressure to stay silent. They’re breaking from this though, in an unprecedented fashion that may change the structure of the entertainment industry. In response to this, he responded to the New York Times, stating that he, “came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.” His statement only gives credence to not only his accusers, but also to the culture that has been able to run rampant. He doesn’t deny the allegations, but he subverts them via dismissal.
Men have always referenced a fallacy of a point, that his accusers somehow seek attention through their proclamations, and that ultimately their accusations are false. That may sound like a compelling point for about four seconds, but quickly falls apart under any sort of pressure. Firstly, statistics show that only 2% of all sex charges are deemed false, according to the FBI. Secondly, accusers have nothing to gain from this: they’re opening up about something that likely causes them great stress, and they’ve now moved into the public spotlight (which also comes with great scrutiny, of which partially comes from people who question their motives).
Men have been able to get away with sexual harassment and assault for the entirety of modern history, partially because they have run everything. Men protect their own, and seek self-preservation rather than fighting for truth and honor, as well as mutual respect of others. This is a problem that affects all of us, because all men have had to make these types of decisions as a result of a self-fulfilling prophecy: do we take positions of leadership, or do we let that position be handed to a woman? Although we may not think about it at the time, our minds are subliminally affected through what we see on TV, what we read, and what we see in the professional world.
It’s our job to be at least conscious of that effect, and to think about the greater good. Because although the culture may not be our individual faults, we are a result of it. If we elect to take that opportunity, we become perpetrators of that effect.
It’s also important to take note that although the Weinstein case is significant and that these women ought to be heard, they’re not the only ones we should think about. Sexual harassment and assault permeates every part of the globe, from Hollywood to Zimbabwe to Roosevelt High. Every ninety-eight seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, but only six out of a thousand perpetrators will be prosecuted. Maybe you know someone who committed it, or who’s been affected by it. Recognize that. It does nothing for anybody if we recognize all of these points but don’t put them into practice when necessary.
If there is a silver-lining to this epidemic, it comes in two forms: Firstly, this is getting exposed. Many women have been supportive of each other on social media, as well as in the entertainment industry, in their responses to Hollygate. We, as men, must be allies and must be unwilling to let this issue settle into the past like so many others have. We must recognize this issue in a true way, and actually work to fix it. That can come to fruition in the second part of this silver-lining, that this explosion will get more women into positions of power. That changes the dynamic of the industry, and women within it will know that they have influence.
As you might have heard from your Twitter timeline or the late-night talk shows, this is not simply a Hollywood problem. This is not simply a Democrat vs. Republican problem. This is a male problem. All of us are affected by the enveloping attitudes that come with a culture that treats women as objects, and all of us have contributed to it in some way. We need to do better. We have to do better.
Graphic By: Petra Lavin