Sexual Assault

No means no.
No means no.
Image credit: Pixabay

A powerful authoritative man. A vulnerable woman launching her career.  Sexual assault. If it does happen, it's more of a "he said, she said" battle and since the alleged assailant has more lawyers than she has shoes, usually it ends up with monetary payoffs, legal threats and non-disclosure agreements. She sadly slithers back to anonymity and he goes on the prowl again, knowing that more women will come to him unaware of what and who he really is. Unfortunately, the women do come. And it becomes a cycle, hidden under the illusion of his power and an inherent stigma, wherein he continues to prey knowing that he won't and can't be stopped.

A known Hollywood movie producer is being shunned by the world, not because he (allegedly) sexually assaulted women for at least 3 decades but because his dirty little secret has come out into the open. A string of A-list celebrities has finally spoken up regarding their experience of sexual assault in the hands of this producer, condemning him, presumably because they feel that it is safe for them to speak now that the world has their backs.

For that long period of time, no one ever tried to stop him. In a 2015 police sting effort against the said producer, prosecutors concluded that they did not have enough evidence to charge and the audio recording of what seemed as "somewhat" of a confession of him groping a budding Italian actress was deemed insufficient to prove a crime under New York law which requires prosecutors to establish criminal content. She was provided a monetary settlement but at last, there was the word of his misbehavior because only a few dared speak against a man who was called "Hollywood's Gatekeeper".

Sexual assault in society today is not tolerated. As his behavior flourished in a time when a few dared speak and in an industry that maybe even tolerated his behavior knowing how influential he was to the careers of many, today is a different story. Although one man who is said to have allegedly assaulted women has become the president of a powerful nation and in the Philippines, a president who likes to crack rape jokes, sexual assault is no laughing matter. Oftentimes it happens to women but sometimes to men as well. Sexual assault is always about control and power- the perpetrator feels he/she is entitled to other people's bodies and disregards their right to consent. When all you have is your self-respect, even that is stripped away from you.
Abused woman illustration.
Image credit: Pixabay

So how was a sexual predator allowed to go on for so long? Was it self-preservation for those who were in business with him? Partly, I would think so. Marring the reputation of a company so big, it is in its best interest to keep everything under wraps. As of recently, because the world had found out, the company fired him to try to do some damage control. If he was fired when they had found out about his numerous sexual misconducts and not when the information was disclosed to the world, they probably would have been able to stop him before he did more damage to more women. According to former employees, his many indiscretions were known but because of a "clause" in their contract of employment, they were not allowed to discuss issues regarding executives in their company.

Was it his influence? His power? Mostly. This man has been thanked more times by Academy awardees than God. A male celebrity said that he heard rumors before regarding sexual assault by this man but, attributed it to sour grape actresses who weren't hired. A former female employee wrote in a memo about the toxic working environment that females had to face while working in the company also stressing that between her and the world famous producer, the balance of power is zero for her and ten for the movie mogul. I think it suffices to say that those who experienced sexual harassment and did cry for help weren't listened to.

Was it the industry? Some journalists say partly. Some people knew but did not expound on it mainly because he was the type of man who could make or break your career. While some actresses'  careers have survived the death of his affection, others, unfortunately, did not. And although some A-list celebrities have given their experiences, it seems that it is not enough.

There are many misconceptions regarding sexual assault. One of them being "People often accuse others of sexual assault". False accusations of sexual assault are rare. But because of the cognitive dissonance that occurs when we hear the word rape, it's difficult for people to believe that it is true. Another misconception, "Sexual assault is an exaggerated issue". Sexual assault is a serious psychological, emotional, physical and prevalent crime. It occurs more than we know it. One other misconception, "If they were really sexually assaulted, they would report it to the police". Unfortunately, according to the University of Michigan, only a small percent made a report to law enforcement and the rest confided to a close friend or family member.

I write this to open people's eyes and minds to the gravity of sexual assault. As others brush it aside saying "you might have just misunderstood his/her for something that is not", if it happened to you would you want them to brush it aside, saying you overreacted and to just forget about it? For the men,  if it happened to your sister or favorite niece or even nephew, and they told you in confidence, would you brush it off? Just because it's difficult to believe doesn't mean it isn't true. If someone tells you that they've been sexually assaulted, help them get the help they need. Let's diminish this act of violence, let's diminish the number of assailants, let's put these people in their rightful place.

It took 3 decades to stop this man. Hopefully, there aren't more like him.


* credit to sources-
"Sexual Assault Misconception" University of Michigan  (https://sapac.umich.edu/article/52)
"Harvey Weinstein Shunned Not for Wrongdoing, but for Getting Caught" by  Shree Parakar (www.thestar.com)




Comments

  1. I don't think it was the industry at all. I think maybe people knew and didn't say anything, because they didn't want to be shunned FROM the industry, but that is really their own fault. People are often very quick to blame the industry, when in reality it's the people who do what they do, regardless where or in which country..

    xo, Rosie //Curvy Life stories

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