AMANDA LAFFERTY ’21
Starting on Sunday Oct. 15 at around 8:00 pm., the allegations against Harvey Weinstein became more than items in a news cycle.
The scandal was now deeply personal. Countless friends, of all genders and sexual orientations posted the “me too” status on Facebook and other social media platforms. I struggled to post the same status as my brave friends, and I didn’t at first. As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry, notorious for its slew of sexual harassment and assault occurrences, I knew it was bound to happen to me at some point (which is an incredibly sad thing to have to realize about your place of employment), and it did. What I find myself saying about the experience I had with a male customer is something many victims end up saying: “well, it could have been worse.” The women who have come to speak against Weinstein have surely thought and/or said something to that extent.
But this isn’t just about my brief interaction with sexual harassment. This isn’t just about the victims of Harvey Weinstein’s horrible actions either. It’s about all women and men, including those who faced Weinstein in tragic circumstances, who have experienced the broad spectrum of sexual assault and harassment.
For context, movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused by over 50 women in the film industry of sexual harassment and assault. At first the number was smaller, when the New York Times first published an article on Oct. 10 detailing various women affected by Weinstein’s assaults. Since, the number has grown rapidly.
Many instances of sexual misconduct are followed by silence, which is frightening to say the least. This is especially true on a college campus such as Trinity. My friends and I have all experienced, and continue to experience, sexual misconduct, and each instance was handled and evaluated completely differently by each victim. For me, it was a mere groping, after which I was completely vocal about my grievances to the perpetrator. Other peers have made allegations of rape and drugging, either going to Campus Safety or keeping it to themselves and close friends.
Each of the victims are different in that some are more comfortable to voice their experienced assaults while others feel they can’t and shouldn’t because nothing will happen to their assailants. It’s easy to say that every victim of sexual assault should speak up, but who can blame the ones who don’t? It seems that it doesn’t matter how quickly society adapts into greater equality between genders, race, and sexual orientations because still, victims are constantly blamed for what happens to them during assaults. Rape culture and slut shaming produce a set of expectations about women’s behavior and the behavior of victims, irrespective of gender, that silences victims of sexual assault, significantly complicating an already difficult dialogue.
But it’s not just Weinstein. Sexual assault allegations against prominent members of the entertainment industry have expanded beyond just Hollywood. Within the last few weeks, members of various indie-rock bands have been accused of sexual assault, primarily by fans. Some have been dropped by their record labels, while others have faced no repercussions. According to Paste magazine, Matt Mondanile, guitarist of the band Real Estate, was fired in 2016 due to allegations from multiple women of sexual misconduct; the information was just revealed by the band in mid October, partially due to the outpour of women who have accused Weinstein of similar misconduct. According to Pitchfork, Alex Calder, a Canadian rock musician, was dropped from his label Captured Tracks on Oct. 13 due to an allegation of sexual assault against Calder. These are not the only musicians who have faced allegations and subsequent consequence, but there’s an obvious pattern.
The only benefit to come of this is that many women have felt more free to speak out against sexual assault and each time they’ve experienced it. It seems like it should be common sense to listen to someone when they’ve been assaulted sexually, yet it still isn’t. Whether the Weinstein allegations will create a wave of positive change for the culture of victim blaming, it may be too early to know.
AMANDA LAFFERTY ’21