By ADMIR DURAKOVIC
The last few months of 2017 have seen many figures in the entertainment industry losing their careers over claims of sexual assault and harassment.
Prominent Hollywood figures such as Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey, amongst others, have been accused of sexual harassment and have since lost any connections to projects they were working on.
This is the start of a negative trend not only for the entertainment industry, but everywhere where a person can abuse their status to force a subordinate or novice in the industry into a situation they don’t want to be in. Victims are afraid to report these instances of abuse because of fear of retaliation and the loss of their careers, among other factors. A society where people are afraid to report a crime is unacceptable.
Many victims wait years, even decades before they can feel comfortable talking about their experiences. For instance, in an interview with BuzzFeed news, actor Anthony Rapp told the story of how he met Kevin Spacey in 1986 while the two were performing on Broadway.
Spacey had invited Rapp to his home, and while the two were alone, Spacey made unwanted sexual advances. Spacey, now 58, was 26 years old at the time and Rapp was only 14 years old. Rapp, now 46, explained his motivations behind coming out with the story more than 30 years later.
“And not to simply air a grievance, but to try to shine another light on the decades of behavior that have been allowed to continue because many people, including myself, being silent,” Rapp said. “I’m feeling really awake to the moment that we’re living in, and I’m hopeful that this can make a difference.”
Just because a crime happened a long time ago doesn’t excuse the perpetrator’s actions. If valid evidence manages to surface even decades later, it must still be taken into account. If someone were to rob a bank but pictures catching them in the act don’t surface for a decade for whatever reason, the bank robber should still pay for his crime.
A talking point that has also risen with the influx of people coming forward with their stories is the idea that any innocent person can be accused of sexual abuse and be viewed as guilty until proven innocent. Of course, the problem with this is that even if a man is proven innocent, the stigma of being accused a sexual predator will always remain.
No one would want to see an innocent person charged wrongfully, but the recent trend of sexual abuse stories include multiple stories connected to one person. The stories and claims made towards elite public figures have mostly turned out to be true and/or alarming enough to take seriously.
Kevin Spacey has admitted to his wrong actions, six different women have come out with stories against “Wonder Woman” producer Brett Ratner and, according to the New York Times, five women have come out with stories of comedian Louis C.K. sexually harassing them.
So far, justice has been served to people deserving of it and no high profile stories of someone being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment have surfaced in conjunction with the rest of the harassment stories flooding everyone’s feeds in November.
Victims are often afraid that their claims won’t be taken seriously and that the motivations behind the claims will be misconstrued. This is the start of a positive trend where victims don’t have to be afraid of retaliation from their bosses, the media or the public.