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It’s About Time: How Sexual Assault Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein Changed America


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By Ruth Kramer ’18, Editor-In-Chief

The sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein earlier this year have sparked a storm in one of America’s most prominent industries: Hollywood. Now, after dozens of women have come forward to share their stories about sexual harassment, violence, abuse, and all misconduct in between, the “Couch Culture” of Hollywood is finally questioned. Women all across the world are stepping forward and sharing their experiences about how important, prominent men—actors, producers, comedians, state officials, and more—have sexually harassed and assaulted them. But more so, men are beginning to come forward as well, changing America’s perception that sexual misconduct and assault are simply “women’s issues”.

Before his descent, Harvey Weinstein was a well-known producer and film executive. With his brother, Bob, he founded Marimax and until 2017, was the chair of the Weinstein Company. However, with the start of sexual harassment allegations, which later became more serious, Weinstein was removed from the company. The start of these allegations began back in early October, with actress Ashley Judd stating that Weinstein had invited her up to his hotel room and asked her to either give him a massage or watch him shower. She declined, but stated that the whole time she was there, she kept thinking how can one get out of this without offending Harvey Weinstein. She was concerned about her career, about the possibility of never working again. And the power of Harvey Weinstein gave her a reason to be. 

Even though Harvey Weinstein’s accusations were the first ones to emerge in such graphic detail, many Hollywood producers, comedians, and actors have followed suit. From Louis CK to Kevin Spacey to George H. W. Bush and many others in between, it is no clearer than ever the sexual misconduct epidemic that has rooted itself in the American workplace, whether it be a glamourous Hollywood film set, a political roundtable, or an everyday office job.

These allegations in Hollywood and the political sphere have shed light on what everyday American women face every single day. A recent study found that over 50% of women have been sexually harassed at work, with the majority of victims being young women. The Twitter hashtag #MeToo has been used more than 500,000 times and on Facebook, it’s been used over a 12 million times. With such overwhelming support for the women who have come forward with their stories as well as the many women still haunted by the actions of their perpetrators, it’s clear that there is a change coming to Hollywood, to politics, and to the everyday American workplace.

These harassment, assault, and rape allegations are unfathomable. So many women and men have suffered at the hands of those in power over them. The violence and domination rooted in these actions begs two important questions to America: why is this happening and how can we stop it? Saturday Night Live parodied these questions in a recent Weekend Update sketch with “Claire from HR”, portrayed by Cecily Strong, asking host Colin Jost what appropriate workplace conduct looked like. While the sketch humorous, there was a lot of truth to it, especially when Jost said “shouldn’t people know this? Isn’t this common sense?” But Claire from HR said it best; “you would think.” It’s time for us to think. How can we stop this? And why did it start in the first place?

 

https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/43gy39/two-thirds-of-young-women-are-sexually-harassed-at-work

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It’s About Time: How Sexual Assault Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein Changed America