The recently surfaced allegations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed women for decades brought to light an ugly reality for victims of sexual assault: Society enables those who continue to abuse victims.
A frenzy of allegations from at least 30 Hollywood actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevigne accused Weinstein of offenses such as sexual assault, battery and rape. These vary from Weinstein asking for back rubs and for the women to watch him shower, to cornering them and attempting to force himself on them. More accusations continue to roll in with each passing day.
Actress Lindsay Lohan, who has worked with Weinstein in the past, spoke out in Weinstein’s defense. She took to Snapchat to say, “I don’t think it’s right what’s going on, he’s never harmed me or did anything wrong to me and we have done several movies together, and I think everyone needs to stop. I think it’s wrong.”
This defense of Weinstein highlights an important issue. Before allegations are able to be investigated properly, society comes to a conclusion about whether they need to be. Lohan has no place to assume the allegations are false simply because they have not happened to her. This sort of behavior creates a culture of enablers.
This culture of enablers puts an immense amount of pressure on victims to come forward. In this matter of he-said-she-said, a man in power, such as Weinstein, would have the upper-hand if an up-and-coming actress were to come forward alone with allegations. This issue is present in many places other than Hollywood.
The Huffington Post reports that every 98 seconds somebody in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. However, most of these incidents go unreported or the cases are thrown out. The Post also reports that 99 percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse will walk free.
These gut-wrenching statistics show just how normalized sexual abuse is in our culture. While the Weinstein case is only one of many sexual assault cases, it shows how easily the other cheek is turned on sexual assault. According to The Baltimore Sun, Weinstein’s employees brought women to him, kept quiet about his money payouts and protected him out of fear and guilt.
It is shameful that it took so long for the details to be revealed and for the exploitation of power to end, but it should not stop with Weinstein. If society continues to turn a blind eye on sexual assault and ignore obvious signs that need investigating, this will keep occurring.
Samantha Moffett is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.