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Tight-lipped Hollywood hurts sexual assault victims


In recent weeks, news has flooded the pages of all forms of media regarding sexual harassment and rape charges from by big-shot names in Hollywood such as director Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey.

But, if we are being honest, do these charges and accusations really surprise us in the public?  Especially in a society where power and resources are held by the majority, upper class and older white men?

Hollywood has been known for having a tight-lipped culture, especially among the elite and wealthy who take advantage of their position of power to manipulate and forcefully exploit the vulnerable and the voiceless.

However, it’s important to remember that their role as predators predates this new era of media and female empowerment. Yes, victims have now discovered their voices are speaking out against their assailants and sharing stories dating back years to their vulnerable positions, but that does not invalidate their experiences or suggest that their experiences are things of the past and do not occur anymore. As bold men and women like Anthony Rapp, Cara Delevinge, Rose McGowan, and others have come forward to share their stories, it has created a domino effect, emboldening more victims to speak up.

It comes as no surprise that many have responded by condemning these allegations, but what intrigues me the most is the prior knowledge of these allegations by people in Hollywood. When McGowan accused Ben Affleck on Twitter of knowing about Weinstein’s harassment towards her and his prior sexual advances, it came as a shock with many criticizing him for his hypocrisy and silence in the past.

Affleck’s silence is an example of the tight-lipped culture that is seen in Hollywood. Instead of speaking up in support of the victimized, men and women who have faced these ordeals are suppressed into silence without receiving justice, which leaves room for such incidents to occur again.

Rather than silence, the industry and other societies and organizations need a space where not only all individuals feel safe and represented but also allies who work to seek and support the causes of individuals who need help. In the words of writer James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” By continuing to dismantle the influence held by those higher in the social hierarchy, namely rich, white men, they can be deprived of the power to convince others to look the other way while they commit these assaults. As a society, we should be working to seek such change, like offering checks to power and a cultural shift from victim-blaming. I’m glad to see the historical silence behind these assaults being broken, but there needs to be an even greater push in this direction, so that these secrets are never kept, that these assaults never negatively impact a victim’s career or result in fear of lack of support or retribution.

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Tight-lipped Hollywood hurts sexual assault victims