By Sara M. McDonald
That is a word commonly used by the women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct to describe their horrific experiences with the American film producer.
At least 28 actresses, models, journalists and former employees of Weinstein have come forward with allegations against him, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, Kate Beckinsale and Cara Delevingne.
The stories are similar: Work-related meetings, with a promise of career advancement, if only they’d kiss or massage him. In one case, he even masterbated in front of a TV reporter.
Known around Hollywood as a “go-getter,” the film producer manipulated the system, making sure he always got what he wanted. He was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood— a scary man to turn down.
In the aftermath, Weinstein was kicked out Miramax, his production company, and booted from the Motion Picture Academy.
Sexual assault and harassment chilling and disconcerting, no matter the abuser. But when someone’s hard-earned career is in the balance, the situation intensifies.
Even more disturbing is the fact that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the country, according to some data gathering services.
Despite that, brave women, and other celebrities – men included – came forward, expressing solidarity for doing the right thing. There are finally people willing to help, who people will listen to.
This movement comes at a crucial time, when our Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has openly declared she will do away with Obama era on sexual misconduct protections.
Under the new guidance, campuses will be allowed to determine whether they wish to implement the “preponderance of evidence” standard, a lower burden of proof than standards previously used by many schools. Many advocates feel this will discourage students from reporting sexual assault.
Now is the time to let your university know how you feel about sexual violence on campus. While sexual assault and harassment is on everyone’s minds, it is not a time to stay dormant. We need to hear from you now, more than ever.
Let’s follow Hollywood’s lead of offering support to victims, standing beside them while they come forward and encouraging those who need to come forward to do so.
Header photo courtesy of David Shankbone