2016 was a weird year, but as 2017 comes to a close, it seems that this year has been even more surreal. This year has been a disruption to the status quo: A nontraditional president, more prevalent natural disasters, civil unrest, and Hollywood stars falling from grace.
People have come forward with sexual misconduct and assault accusations against actors, producers and politicians. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Brett Ratner, Roy Moore, and recently George Takei are accused of these crimes.
From masturbating in front of women, sexual harassment, sexual assault of coworkers, and even accusations of sexually assaulting minors, 2017 has exposed many beloved public figures as counterfeit — not exactly who we thought they were.
Recently we have shown that, as a country, we are not afraid to come forward and call out those who are politically and socially powerful when they do something abhorrent. Hollywood has even excommunicated some of the previous names in question and discontinued their projects. Actress Ellen Page came forward and said that Rattner outed her in front of the cast and crew of X Men: The Last Stand. Gal Gadot said she will refuse to star in Wonder Woman 2 unless Warner Bros. buyout Ratner’s financing deal, according to Polygon.
There is a positive reaction to these sort of things, but there is also the inverse.
Many don’t believe the people coming forward with stories of sexual harassment. They suspect victims coming forward are only doing so now to bandwagon and drag whatever public figures name into the mud and get their 15 minutes of fame.
Why come out years later to accuse people of such things now instead of closer to when these events happened?
We shouldn’t dismiss news like this.
Coming forward with accusations that call out public figures as well as corporations takes bravery. These situations aren’t over once people come forward with these accusations. And doing so isn’t any easier on these people than staying quiet.
“If you found yourself in a tiger habitat at the zoo, and the animal was looking at you from the corner, huge, and resting, do you think you’d just… leave? No, babe. No. Your brain doesn’t let you “just leave” when you’re in a room with a toothy beast, I don’t care if there’s a door or not.
Your brain isn’t interested in your reputation. Your brain is interested in survival,” Katie Anthony wrote in a blog post on her website, katykatikate.com. Since I have no room to speak on sexual harassment because I haven’t experienced it, Anthony gave me permission to use excerpts from her post.
“What do women do when we’re afraid? What do we do when faced with sexual aggression or dangerous hostility?
We smile. We laugh. We soothe and compromise and de-escalate. We gray out and don’t think about anything until it’s over. That ability to please is our biggest shield, guys…
We know we’re going to get blamed and shamed and punished…
We know that the things we did while getting f—ed make no f—ing sense to you. Why didn’t you leave? Why didn’t you fight? Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you take a picture or call the cops or scratch or bite?
And you’re right. They don’t make any f—ing sense. Unless you’re accustomed to being prey. And you’re probably not…
If we talk about it, we’re going to willingly step onto the social scale of “WHO SHOULD WE BELIEVE, MAN VS. WOMAN” and we know that we always lose that contest. Even if we win, miraculously, because 16 other people have stepped up to corroborate our story, or because somehow some physical evidence has surfaced, we lose.
We will be called opportunists, liars, sluts, gold-diggers, airheads, cock teases, and so, so much worse. Those are some emotional f—ing consequences right there,” Anthony said.
Louis C.K., just because you’re able to joke about sexual harassment doesn’t make it okay to do so. Kevin Spacey, revealing that you’re gay in hindsight isn’t going to give you brownie points for assaulting a minor. Republican State Auditor, Jim Zeigler, a Joseph and Mary analogy isn’t justification for Roy Moore having sex with a minor either.
I get that some people aren’t going to change their support for those accused. I hear House of Cards is a good show, that Louis is a decent/real comedian, and that former Alabama state judge running for governor… is a former Alabama state judge running for governor of Alabama. These events tarnish the works these people are involved in, as they should. But some people are still going to watch the shows they were in because they don’t want these events to take away from all their great work. Some will still respect their works and feel that respect is what should be preserved. That it’s all that matters.
A position isn’t what garners respect. Just because someone is my president doesn’t mean that, in title alone, he is owed my respect. This goes for all those accused as well. Positions do not alleviate or excuse things that one does, I guess with the apparent exception of Trump.
I get it, Marlon Brando in the Godfather is a hollowed and respected performance, and Bill Cosby, to some, will be the definition of the American father. To me, continued support of these people post scandal in a way supports the act of the scandals themselves.
The IndieWire wrote a tweet that read, “With television’s golden age tarnished by Louis C.K, Kevin Spacey and others, the medium’s brightest era has gone dark.”
I have to disagree. With shows like, Mr. Robot, FX’s Atlanta, Westworld, Blackish, The Mayor, and Empire around, it’s not like the canceled shows and programs are a big loss. I think television will be fine. There was a time before them, and there will be a time after them.
As a student community at Laramie County Community College, we had to agree to Not Anymore, the interactive online bystander intervention training to prevent sexual assault, dating and domestic violence and stalking.
Students had to agree to say not anymore to this kind of behavior in order to sign up for next semester classes. To some, this was just a two hour ordeal to check boxes that we’re conditioned to answer. Yes, harassment is bad, now let me get signed up for these classes.
To those who approached this attempt at a learning experience from LCCC to its populace, you’re missing the point.
If you feel that this isn’t as big a deal, and that this is just how men and women are, you’re missing the point.
To LCCC’s credit, as an establishment, it attempted to educate people that these instances are not okay. But like a Facebook comment on my Racial Justice column stated, “You’ll never change the horrible thinking of crappy people.”
What good will come from calling out injustices like this? Well, I for one wasn’t meant to be in any position to win in my scenario as well. Coming forward when you’ve been wronged is hard. I learned this the hard way when I published my column on an experience I had involving a racist joke in one of my classes. Colleagues and readers saw my column as too harsh of a reaction, something that was blown out of proportion. I wasn’t published in print.
But now, spoiler alert, there are talks of establishing a zero tolerance policy on campus so that this sort of thing isn’t seen as just a first time offence, and that real justice can be done to those after me. Guess something good did come from speaking out. And to those that spoke out against those names mentioned at the beginning of the column, know that some good can and will come out of this as well.
Those who spoke out shouldn’t have to feel like they have to be PR to those that did them wrong. That speaking out would only harm them and those that were in question. And those who vindicate those who spoke out should also respect the things they have to say. In the end, the civil court will have to decide the fate of all involved. But if you can readily go to bat for those accused, you should consider readily going to bat to those with the courage to come forward with these revelations. If the public can easily scrutinize those who spoke out, the public should also scrutinize how they react to this kind of news.
If students at LCCC can say Not Anymore in the form of mandatory intervention training, why not also say not anymore to dismissal of the victims who speak out in these instances? Why not say not anymore to the overused saying, “thoughts and prayers” when hard situations like this arise? Spread the word. Find the truth. Give support to the voiceless.