Recent allegations expose culture of sexual misconduct


Graphic by Ani Mathison

Allegations against Harvey Weinstein sparked a surge of sexual assault allegations against several men in positions of power.

Reece Carew-Lyons, Contributing Writer

In the weeks after the articles in The New York Times about Harvey Weinstein were published, many actors, actresses and athletes have come out saying that they have also been a victim of sexual assault, using the hashtag #Metoo. In the past, victims have felt ashamed and afraid to speak up, but with the exposure of recent sexual assault cases, victims have experienced a more accepting environment of what they have gone through.  While these reports from some of the most famous celebrities are horrific, they help bring the issue of sexual assault into light. In return, this has made it so that sexual assault is something okay to talk about.

According to The New York Times article released in October, Weinstein would invite women to the hotel where he was staying for a meal, but then would request they come up to his room. Once they were there, Weinstein would coerce and force women to engage in unwanted sexual acts with him. He would often promise rewards, such as a role in the movie they were auditioning for. These women were put into very dangerous situations because speaking out could potentially ruin their chance at achieving fame. This type of abuse can be extremely harmful to women and other victims because it makes them feel like their own bodies come second to their work. To a certain extent, for these women this meant that being in the Hollywood meant not getting the respect they deserve.

The New York Times article also revealed that Weinstein made his employees sign a contract when they were hired for The Weinstein Company stating: “they will not criticize it or its leaders in a way that could harm its business reputation or any employees personal reputation.” In other words, speaking out about the sexual assault or allegations heard would ultimately get many of the victims or employees fired. This left victims and employees with not much of a choice to come forward about allegations, forcing them to remain silent.

Although victims have finally found the courage to come forward about Harvey Weinstein, this is not to say that coming forward can be without consequences. This is why  before accusing someone of sexual assault someone thinks about the fact that it could harm the accuser more than the person who actually did it. In part, this is why people in the past have been so hesitant to expose it. But the recent courage gives strength to the many other victims of assault. There is something powerful in numbers. Victims can feel less afraid when they not only have a support system around them (all of those who have come forward), but also a community working to erase the stigmas of sexual assault supporting them.

Since the allegations against Weinstein have been brought forward, many other cases of sexual assault and misconduct have emerged. Just recently, teen star Finn Wolfhard dropped his agent Tyler Graham because he was accused of sexually assaulting other young male stars. Furthermore, Matt Lauer, a popular host of the Today Show, also was accused of sexual misconduct and was fired immediately. Many more famous and important people have been accused: Louis CK, Al Franken, Roy Moore, the list goes on. All of these allegations have revealed the trauma that happens to many men and women and will warn future stars of the epidemic of sexual assault. However, most importantly, it takes away the power of the sexual predators who are committing sexual assault and misconduct.

In the future, we can now hope that people will live in a world where sexual assault does not have a stigma associated to the victim. In other words, people will know that it is never the victim’s fault. Because of the strength of a few, many more people will no longer have to suffer at the hands of the sexual predators and be forced to remain silent. Hopefully, exposure to these issues will only increase. Most importantly, hopefully the people who have caused harm to others will continue to be exposed and workspaces will continue to become more respectful and safe.