Bill Cosby. Bill O’Reilly. Harvey Weinstein. The list goes on. The rich and powerful men of Hollywood are being called out by their victims, and with the now-famous hashtag #MeToo filling Twitter and Facebook posts, women and men are sharing their horror stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault. This isn’t just about women in Hollywood, but this is about women in general. Women live every day knowing they can be assaulted, harassed and even raped by men. Is there an answer, a solution or something that can be done? Ironically, the first step is to admit when others become vile and violent, and the next step is to remove people from those positions. We can’t stop men from behaving badly, but society hasn’t really taken the steps to curtail these behaviors, mostly because men have run the show.
This problem isn’t anything new. Singer and actress Courtney Love has a video from 2005 going viral now, warning young actresses not to go to a hotel room with Harvey Weinstein. Standup comedian Hannibal Buress was the one who outed Cosby with a fan-made video as well. 1980s heartthrob Corey Feldman went on The View in 2013 to call out Hollywood for pedophilia, only to be scolded by Barbara Walters for trying to bring down an industry. Maybe the reason the “casting couch” rumors took so long to create such a firestorm is because it took the modern flow of information to become so accessible. Harvey Weinstein is the least-famous name compared to Cosby and O’Reilly, but his victims and similar victims were women with the power of the tweet. It was TV actress Alyssa Milano who started the #MeToo sensation after seeing that her sisters in acting were victims along with her. No longer were the victims just middle American workers, college students and faceless names. While some of Cosby’s victims were actresses, they were mostly women not in the current limelight. Finally, the crossroad where information and technology met with the right people stirring the ship.
Obviously, women are the primary victims of male predators, but men have come out as well. Besides Feldman expressing his experiences, TV star James Van Der Beek and movie star Terry Crews talked about how men made them uncomfortable by sizing them up; and in Crews’ case, grabbing his private areas. Some posts I saw on Facebook and Twitter tried to claim that women are just as guilty. While I’m sure there are women who have made men uncomfortable, in no way do the numbers match; nor is the threat similar. A man is still a physically imposing species to the victims he preys upon. His power is either in the physical or the professional realm, or both. Some argue that these women should have come out earlier; but ironically, I’ve only seen men make the predators the victims of the circumstances.
Unfortunately, I do understand what these women experienced. I was sexually harassed when I was 18 years old. By a man. A customer at my job knew the hours I worked alone and would make inappropriate statements and propositions. When I went to my bosses to express my concerns, both 25-year-old men, they laughed at me. I quit. When I was a 25-year-old man, a co-worker made lewd remarks about me to others and to my face. Eventually, because it was a school setting, he was removed from his position, but he continued to say things to others in hopes of ruining my reputation. There was no way to stop him, but the person in charge did fire him. So I do understand the situation these women were in. First time, no one listened; the second time, the perpetuator freely continued.
While people will never stop harassing and assaulting, one thing we can all do is call it out when we see it and ostracize those who prey on people they desire. Sadly, many have an initial reaction, as Barbara Walters did, shaming the victim to protect the lives of the powerful.
This isn’t a “right” or “left” issue. This is a human race issue. And those who don’t want to play by the rules shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the race.