The Weinstein Effect

When Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults were brought into the open, I wasn’t surprised. Hollywood has always been run by misogynistic men who wield their power over those they deem as weak. To me, the fallout and the articles were just another news story, something I could read about and go, “Jesus Christ, what a fucking scumbag.”

Then, Kevin Spacey tried to throw the heat off his sexual assaults by coming out as gay. I have no personal connection to Kevin Spacey; he was pretty good in “7” and I liked “American Beauty” all right. I had zero problem saying to myself: “Well, no reason to support him anymore.”

As the victims of these assaults came forward I wondered (as did the rest of the world) who would be next? Who would be brave enough to stand up for the injustice that was bestowed upon them? Who would set their fear aside, become bigger than they ever thought they could be and reveal the next perpetrator? And who would be on the other end?

Last week there were two in a day. Roy Moore and Louis CK. Other than the fact that I completely believe the women who accused Roy Moore and the general fact that what he did was unforgivable and wrong, I have no thoughts on the man. None that really hit home. Ever since he decided to put the ten commandments in front of the courthouse in Alabama, I assumed this man was nothing but dirt.

But Louis CK? Reading his name actually took me by surprise. Louis CK was someone who I listened to, who I laughed at, who I took great admiration in. His take on parenting and life was so relatable to me. His cynicism was genuine and I respected him as a performer and writer. But when you masturbate in front of a woman/women when it is clearly not wanted, you might as well tell me you think I’m a piece of shit. That’s what he did. He betrayed the image I had of him.

Maybe I’m naive for thinking that the majority of men are nice to women. I assume because I would never force a woman to watch me jerk off or because I would never use my power to get myself off, no one else would either. It seems completely opposite of that though.

And it’s not exclusively celebrities… it’s everyone. Ingrained in our culture is a thought that using people is ok. That treating women (and men) for our own sexual pleasure is completely fine. It’s so ingrained that assailants like Weinstein and Spacey rely on the victims not coming forward. Most victims don’t. It takes a group coming out as one in order for single victims to feel safe enough to come out too.

To me, it seems like it took the exposure of Harvey Weinstein for our nation to start talking about sexual assaults more. It took these big name actors for the news media and even people in my group of friends to start talking about how fucked up it is that on a daily basis women are made to feel less then they are. How even an NPR executive slid his tongue down a woman’s throat in order to try to get himself off. How cat-calling and the general use of women as objects is considered completely normal. We live in a world where people blame the victims of the assault and call them liars.

There are two solutions I can see to this societal tragedy. The first is playing itself out right now. My hope is that even more people (women and men) will come forward about those who assaulted them. The #metoo movement was a great start. By exposing celebrities, (who are worshipped and followed as if they were a deity) the public feels more comfortable to share their stories of assault. I was saddened to see people from my personal world that had their own stories of being taken advantage of. I honestly couldn’t believe that so many people I know had been affected. Not by celebrities, by people they genuinely trusted. By friends and family and caretakers. As a victim of sexual assault myself, I know how hard it was for me to come out of the dark and I am happy to see more people exposing their pain in order to reveal the people who wronged them. When more people tell their stories, then the more people will come out of the dark. And the more people that come out of the dark the better. These are the people who will change the society around us.

The second is to teach our kids that this is not ok. They are no better than anyone else, and no one else is better than them. We need to teach our boys to respect the world around them and to command respect from the world around them. If the whole goal of parenting is to leave our children with a better world than what we had, I feel it would be doing them a disservice to not even attempt to view every single human being the same way they view themselves.

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