The film industry has been heavily featured in the news recently. Harvey Weinstein, a film producer and the founder of production companies Miramax and The Weinstein Company, has been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape by more than 70 women.
Weinstein has apologized for the sexual harassment, but has denied any accusations of non-consensual sex. He has been removed from any office held in The Weinstein Company, and is currently being investigated by the New York Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Metropolitan Police Service in London, with a United States federal investigation pending.
In the wake of these accusations, the “#MeToo” movement arose to give victims of sexual abuse a platform to show solidarity, and that it’s never too late to come forward.
The unfortunate consequence of information overload is that topics fade quickly. The news cycle moves on and people stop talking about important issues. “#MeToo” has not been trending for a few weeks now, and there is no mention of this important story on the front pages of the websites of CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News.
This is not just a recent story. Weinstein’s abuses were an “open secret” in Hollywood. Many people in the industry knew about it and either willfully ignored it or kept the secret because they were afraid of losing their jobs.
It’s important to remember that the problem does not lie just within the film industry — sexual harassment and assault are worldwide problems, found in every industry and every walk of life.
Friends and acquaintances from my home in Kansas took to Facebook to ask why Weinstein’s victims didn’t come forward with their accusations sooner. The answer is because this is not just about sexual abuses — it is about abuses of power as well.
Weinstein was a powerful figure in Hollywood who used the power and influence he held over others to commit disgusting and unforgivable acts. Actor and former football player Terry Crews joined the “#MeToo” movement, saying that “an unnamed Hollywood executive” groped him at a industry function in 2016. Crews took to Twitter to criticize the industry. “I decided not to take it further because I didn’t want to be ostracized — par for the course when the predator has power and influence,” he said.
Another argument that surfaces when a man is accused of sexual assault is that the accusations may ruin his career. But that’s simply untrue. Johnny Depp is still a household name after being accused of physically and verbally abusing his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
Outside of the film industry, Donald Trump was accused of sexual assault and he was elected to the office of President.
But what can we do? The first thing to remember is what your kindergarten teacher told your class every day: keep your hands to yourself. The second, and far less facetious thing is to hold those in power accountable for their actions. This means that facilities have to be made available so that those who have suffered abuses of any kind — at the hands of someone higher up the food chain — can have a space to report such abuses. The third thing is to remember. Do not move on as the news cycle does. You have space in your brain to be concerned for multiple issues. We cannot let abuses like this fade from the limelight — to do so is to allow them to repeat themselves. Because of how prolific sexualization is in the film industry, it is the perfect breeding ground for disgusting pieces of human garbage like Weinstein.
The final thing to do is the most important: listen to victims when they speak out. It takes more courage than I can fathom to accuse a powerful individual like Harvey Weinstein. If more people listen, then change can occur.