Why the Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Scandal Should Not Be the First One of Its Kind
October 21st, 2017
By now, most people have heard or read something about the Harvey Weinstein scandal blazing through the media: Weinstein, a famous director, harassed or sexually assaulted over twelve women, and the allegations, including some from well-known women such as Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne and Gwyneth Paltrow, continue to pile up. The sexual assault stories date back to the 1990’s, giving the world a perspective on just how long this disgusting behavior has been going on underneath Hollywood’s shiny exterior.
Many of the actresses who stepped forward said that Weinstein called them to his hotel room or another private place under pretense of a meeting or discussion about their career, only to, when they arrived, ask them to take off his clothes, massage him, or perform another sexual act. He often took advantage of young actresses who were not yet successful and therefore could not fight against him without the possibility of ruining their livelihoods and careers. In her memo, actress Lauren O'Conner stated, "I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10."
According to the New York Times, the scandal was a known “secret” within the Hollywood community. This fact that people knew about Weinstein’s despicable behavior and did nothing is not acceptable. Sexual harassment and assault is not something that should be kept under wraps-- sexual predators have to face the consequences of their actions. Hushing up scandals like this only further perpetuates rape culture within our society today.
Unfortunately, Weinstein’s behavior is neither surprising nor unique of the entertainment industry. It is refreshing to see serious consequences for and condemnation of Weinstein’s actions, but a question that has to be asked is why other sexual predators have not had their careers or reputations harmed by sexual assault allegations. Famous directors, filmmakers, and actors like Woody Allen, Casey Affleck, and even President Donald Trump have all been accused of sexual assault, yet these allegations have not resulted in serious consequences at all. Why do we allow this to continue? This behavior validates the idea that women can be objectified and the idea that claims of sexual assault -- ones that absolutely true -- can be written off as false. Victim blaming is extremely common in modern day society, with questions like, “what were you wearing?” or “did you make it clear you meant no?” being asked in cases of rape or sexual assault. Today’s society still needs to learn that victims are never at fault in cases of sexual harassment, and only when people understand this will it be easier for survivors of sexual harassment to speak out and condemn their accusers. The Weinstein scandal, however isolated it seems, is only proof that Hollywood power dynamics need to be changed to make sure that young female actresses can feel safe in their industry.