Unless you’ve been able to avoid social media, news outlets, and “water cooler” gossip, you’ve likely heard by now about the numerous sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against film producer and Miramax studio executive, Harvey Weinstein. Over several decades, Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing and/or assaulting multiple women, including actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd, and he has settled with at least eight women over the course of three decades.
Now, this probably doesn’t come as a shock to many; a man in a position of power abusing said power, in order to denigrate, assault, harass women. But that isn’t my focus right now. This isn’t anything new. And what’s worse is that the same women who have come forth, or are just now coming out and saying they were harassed, have largely been labeled “crazy” and much worse, previous to this. This isn’t just a social media problem. Fox News, a largely respected (by some) media outlet covered a story where Blaze host Dana Loesch mocked Judd for being uncomfortable around Trump supporters at an NCAA game.
When we know that information, and couple that with the fact that women, particularly celebrities, come forward and have assault/harassment allegations, they are absolutely vilified, it should come as no surprise that they are reticent to speak out against their abusers.
But that’s what we want, right? We want women to be afraid to speak out, so that men can be vile, abusive pigs, with impunity. We want to create spaces where people cannot speak openly about their experiences, because if that happens, if we believe women, if we protect them, if we hold abusive men accountable…we would have to face up to our sins, and atone for them. But we don’t really want that.
While many people, men and women, including celebs like Amber Tamblyn, Brie Larson, and America Ferrera, have given their unequivocal support to survivors of Weinstein’s assaults, inordinately large numbers of people have made it very clear that they do not support these women, at all. Twitter’s trending “#Weinstein” has created a bit of a frenzy:
But what if, just what if, when women came forward, we gave them the benefit of the doubt, and believe them? What if we didn’t throw skewed and inaccurate statistics about false rape allegations in their faces (a symposium on false rape allegations, from 2010, shows that only between 2% – 10% of rape allegations are actually against an innocent man, and less than 35% of rapes go reported)? What if…we just listened to women when they step forward? Does it really take that much effort to support people when they need it the most? Many people like to joke that common sense is a rare trait anymore, but personally, I believe empathy is much rarer.
What’s the harm in believing women, or for that matter, men, when they have accusations about sexual assault and/or harassment? There is cognitive dissonance in this country, and every single day, I find myself more and more disgusted when I am faced with the lack of humanity among humans. So many of us are beautiful, kind, strong beings, who fight for others, and speak out even when our voice is trembling. But there are also countless others who are so insecure and disturbed that they have to bully people, most often behind their keyboard or phone, while licking Cheetos dust from their fingers and belching up that last guzzle of Mountain Dew.
Why didn’t we believe her? That question needs to become so engrained in our brains that it stops being a question, and becomes a rallying cry, changing the way we view the world, the way we react to allegations of abuse, assault, harassment.
Why didn’t we believe her? Why? What does that say about us, as a society?