By Dorany Pineda
The allegations of sexual harassment and rape against former movie-mogul Harvey Weinstein were no surprise to many women. It is an incident that is not singular.
Since the New York Times published an article on Oct. 5 that revealed Weinstein as a scumbag whose enormous power and influence protected him for decades from accusations of sexual assault and rape, a ripple effect has occurred.
Countless women, and some men, have stepped forward to expose and hold predators accountable for misusing their influence.
USA Today reported that 78 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevingne, have come forward with stories about Weinstein requesting messages, aggressive sexual advances or rape.
The Weinstein ripple effect has shown how rampant sexual assault and harassment is.
It has also uncovered the immense silence that comes with it. And where there’s silence, there is no accountability or justice.
One such effect is the #MeToo movement. Started by actress Alyssa Milano on Twitter, she encouraged women to post #MeToo if they had ever been assaulted or harassed.
Within 24 hours, the hash-tag had been Tweeted almost half a million times.
And recently, women in France have adopted their own version of the hashtag, but with more flair. #BalanceTonPorc, or “out your pig,” erupted as well.
So what can society collectively do to lessen the unbridled ill of assault and harassment in the workplace and elsewhere?
(I say lessen because to think it’ll ever be completely stopped is naive).
For starters, let’s not elect men into the Oval Office who have bragged about assaulting women.
Children are watching and learning, and they will grow up thinking that assault and harassment are normal and okay.
Let’s watch closely those with power.
Let’s teach boys about consent and respect, and stop using the excuse that “boys will be boys.”
Let’s stop praising predators like Roman Polanski, who was given a best director Academy Award despite facing jail time for having drugged and raped a 13 year old girl years before.
Let’s not turn the other way for fear of retribution.
Let’s believe women when they tell their stories because it sure as hell takes a lot for them to come out and talk about what was done to them.
Not taking their experiences seriously only makes the silence more deafening and perpetuates the abuse.
Let’s talk about rape culture and how we can change the justice system so that survivors are no longer ignored and scrutinized, so that rapists are put in their appropriate place behind bars.
We need a system with a zero-tolerance policy that doesn’t pity young, white, male athletes (see the Brock Turner case of 2016).
Remember that men aren’t immune to these predators either.
Several actors have recently spoken out against actor Kevin Spacey, who they allege sexually assaulted them when they were younger.
Actor Terry Crews shared his story of sexual misconduct by a Hollywood executive on Twitter after experiencing post traumatic stress from learning about Weinstein.
Crews decided to “let it go” out of fear of being “ostracized” because his aggressor was the one with the power and influence.
And when the “pig” is exposed, let’s hold it accountable and strip it of the power it once enjoyed with impunity.