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Movement Empowers Women to Report Sexual Violence

Samantha Grunden, Opinions Editor

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By the time you read this, it is likely that more people will be outed for sexual crimes, as victims will be continuously coming forward. Since October 5th there have been over 33 famously known men in the public eye who come from multiple industries that have been accused of sexual harassment, assault and rape. Sexual harassment is harassing a person in workplace or social situation by making sexual advancements or vulgar comments. Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact such as groping and grabbing. Rape is sexual intercourse forcefully carried out through threat or injury.

“This sort of thing was something my generation dealt with, all the time,” the English actress Claire Forlani explained to The Hollywood Reporter, in early October. The “thing” Forlani was referring to is sexual harassment. The actress is part of the movement MeToo.

MeToo has become an outlet for thousands of people to speak out against sexual violence. MeToo began with the activist Tarana Burke, a blogger and advocate for women. Originally, Burke wanted to help young girls of color feel less isolated after sexual assault and rape encounters. However, she unknowingly opened a floodgate of sexual allegations and empowerment of women across America and Europe.

“It started with young people and I quickly realized adults needed it too,” Burke said in a CNN interview this October. The movement has circled around and is back in focus on social media. Alyssa Milano, a well known actress, used her Twitter in early October to motivate women who’d been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo. Milano’s post on twitter was retweeted more than 17,000 times in 24 hours. Now MeToo includes women, men, adults, and children, all sharing their own experiences.

By November, more than sixty women came forward with allegations of rape and sexual harassment against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein; The full list can be found on the USA Today page, which is constantly being updated every day.  “Its disgusting, but not surprising because it is Hollywood…” said junior, Vivian Cicerchia. There have been sexual harassment and rape allegations made against the producer since the 90’s but it wasn’t until this October, that more women are speaking out against what Weinstein has done. He has yet to be arrested, instead he is at a sexual addiction rehab center in Arizona.

“I think it’s not necessarily shocking, it should be more shocking. I think it’s disgusting. It’s been going on a long time and people know it’s been going on a long time, and I think one of the worst things is that people tried to cover it up,” said English teacher Rachel Svec.

Men and boys are often hesitant to admit they have been victims of rape or sexual harassment because of societal pressures to be masculine. Corey Feldman is well known for his appearances in The Goonies, Stand by Me, and also License to Drive, The American actor came out on October 25, 2017, in response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. Feldman mentioned how he started a campaign to finance the production of a new film about his life. This film will allegedly expose the secret pedophilia in Hollywood that was forced upon him as a young actor. Corey Feldman stated, “I’ve been silenced my whole life…” in a new video talking about his campaign. MeToo, is not just for women and girls, this movement helps men feel less isolated also.

Furthermore, Feldman mentioned how there are many hidden sexual offenders in the Hollywood industry. Kevin Spacey, an American actor and producer might be one of them. Since October 29th, fifteen men have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and attempted rape, five of whom said they were teens at the time. “I’ve long suspected there was a dark side to him. I just hope he gets the help he needs so nobody else is harmed by him.” said Spacey’s brother Randy Fowler to The Sun in November. These men were bribed to keep silent. They were afraid that no one would believe them and would be pushed out of the closet as gay. “As a military adviser the last thing you’d want anyone to know is that you were gay,” Mark Ebenhoch told BuzzFeed. Ebenhoch was one of the many men sexually assaulted by Spacey. These men were and still are afraid of the consequences of coming out with these allegations. “It’s messed up, I would be scared, if they come out and say what happened, they must be scared to get their career taken away from them,” said Steven Aubin, a WSHS sophomore.

Spacey has been accused of attempted rape, sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing, assaulting and raping multiple women. Rape can result into arrests being made. In order for the accused to be arrested for rape, evidence is necessary. Evidence can be found in the form of a witness, rape kit, or video/photographic proof. The Manhattan district attorney is moving closer to criminal charges against previously mentioned, Harvey Weinstein. Even though over 60 woman have come forward, the criminal justice system is still going through the complicated process associated with cases of this nature. “Women’s voices are shut out from the podium of power in this country, we are silenced every day and we get no help, even when we prove ourselves,” said senior Isabella Boutet.

As the movement gains momentum, so do the accusations and terminations of people from powerful positions. Just last week, NBC fired Today Show anchor Matt Lauer after he was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. In late November, Larry Nassar, a former USA gymnastics physician, was accused of sexually assaulting over 130 women including gold medalists Gabby Douglas and Olympians McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman. They have claimed of being sexually abused by Nassar during their careers, Maroney and Douglas have both tweeted #metoo, in support of the movement.

Women now, more than ever, are feeling empowered and have a voice. There has been men in power, such as Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey who have lost their jobs and respect but there are men in politics who still hold power and have been hurting and threatening women for decades. These men include, John Conyers with sexual harassment allegations, still in congress. Roy Moore accused of sexual misconduct but still running, and President Donald Trump with 20 sexual harassment allegations. Thousands are now becoming conscious of this. There is no place for sexual assault, harassment and rape in our society.

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