If You Still Think We Don't Live in A Rape Culture, You're Delusional
Content warning: sexual assault
This week has actually been crazy. Scratch that— the past two weeks. Wait... when did the Harvey Weinstein allegations get uncovered? The amount of time since then— THAT has been crazy.
I'm sure you already know that Harvey Weinstein is a famous movie producer and creator of The Weinstein Company and Miramax who, it turns out, is a creepy pervert who has sexually assaulted an amount of women so high that we'll probably never get an accurate count.
This story has been through the news cycle about a bajillion times, being rehashed every time a new actress comes out and says #MeToo.
Why are we so fascinated with the story? Why has it dominated our news coverage? There's perverts everywhere in the world, and sexual assault happens every day! Our president has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by upwards of 15 women. We literally have a Wikipedia page detailing all of them that you can access here.
So what's with all the hullaballoo? Who cares this time around?
I'm willing to bet that at the heart of it, the question that has everyone refreshing their pages and coming back to the news coverage is:
"How could this have gone on for so long without someone doing something?"
It's almost ridiculous at this point how many women were assaulted. A common thread in all of their allegations is the fact that "everyone knew." Everyone? Really?
I've been raging pretty hard about this ever since the news broke (RIP Carter's ears) and the part that grinds my gears the most is how so many people could keep this off the record for so long.
Everyone is calling this "Hollywood's best kept secret." When Lupita Nyong'o came forward with her assault information, she said:
I share all of this now because I know now what I did not know then. I was part of a growing community of women who were secretly dealing with harassment by Harvey Weinstein. But I also did not know that there was a world in which anybody would care about my experience with him.*
We know that Hollywood is a male dominated society. It's a boy's club. Men's club? Gentlemen's club? I don't know, I just know I don't have time for it. The amount of people who knew and facilitated Weinstein's behavior for all these years (I'm looking at you Tarantino, and you Clooney, and you basically everyone in Hollywood) is crazy and at the same time unsurprising. Someone couldn't get away with that much sexual assault without a support system. That support system is a rape culture.
When I say "rape culture" I mean our society facilitates sexual assault. It doesn't punish it. It elects it into office. It asks women what they were wearing when they were assaulted. It tells men, "you can't get raped by a woman." It whispers in your ear, "no one will believe you, not even the police."
So many people, particularly men, have tried to tell me we don't live in a rape culture. I hope that this moment is enough tangible evidence for them that yes, we do.
Still don't believe me? I'll just throw some hard facts at you.
Out of 1,000 rapes, only 6 rapists will be incarcerated.
Only 2 out of 3 rapes are even reported to the police. (Why? Many reasons, here are a few: you may not have enough evidence to prove the rape occurred if a rape kit isn't immediately performed, your family and friends may not support you, the rapist may retaliate against you, the police might discourage you from entering a lengthy legal battle.)
Rapists are significantly less likely to go to jail than a robber or someone who commits assault and battery.
The biggest response from Hollywood's most famous actors has been a lot of this:
"I have daughters and a wife and a sister so this REALLY upsets me WOW I knew NOTHING about this. If this happened to my daughters or sisters or wife, I'd be SO MAD."
These canned PR responses seem sincere at face value, but if you really read what's being said there it's really sad. These actors, who have no doubt benefitted from this rape culture of Hollywood, are saying that they only care about these sexual assaults because they could happen to someone they know.
(If you want to read into it even more-- it could happen to someone they feel like they have ownership of.)
Like, here's a hot take: How about we value women for being actual human beings and speak out on their behalf because no one deserves to be sexually assaulted? How about we hold rapists responsible for their actions? Don't get all up in arms about "protecting our women," get up in arms about men who are rapists.
A Word On Allyship
Remember my article on workplace discrimination? How I felt really uncomfortable bringing the topic up to my supervisor so I just didn't?
In that situation, I was looking to my white coworkers to speak up. They didn't. If you're in a place of privilege and claim to support equality, you need to use that platform to advocate for disadvantaged groups.
So, all the men in Hollywood who said, "I knew he was a dog," or, "Everyone knew he liked to fool around," or, "I didn't think it was any of my business."
Speak up for others when they are being silenced. Start making active commitments about how you are going to change for the better.