On Oct. 5, the New York Times published allegations of decades of sexual abuse by film producer, Harvey Weinstein. From that point, many other women in the industry have come forth to announce their story of abuse, which eventually triggered police investigations and Weinstein’s expulsion from the Producers Guild of America.
Despite the amount of evidence against Weinstein, there was mixed response from the public, as well as from celebrities. Specifically, most of the criticisms point toward a growing atmosphere of witch-hunting that may affect innocent public figures. However, some celebrities have also stepped up to defend Weinstein based on their lack of negative experience while working with him.
“Personally, I do not blame celebrities who are supporting Weinstein, like Lindsay Lohan, because they have not experienced sexual assault from him,” said Sophia Song (12). “However, testimonies like these should not diverge from the multiple allegations from women that have claimed to be assaulted by him.”
Fortunately, most of the public has celebrated the fact that the women have been brave enough to face against Weinstein, who is regarded somewhat as a mogul within the industry. Originally, victims had been suppressed out of self-preservation: within the inherent power dynamics of a director-actress relationship, the director is ultimately the person that decides an actor or actresses’ role in movies.
“I think that the Weinstein case would only have been possible because many women stepped up at the same time,” said Annette Choi (10). “Before, if a single actress or actor spoke up about sexual abuse by a specific person, that person would not have been regarded seriously, and would face backlash from the public. Now, the overwhelming amount of evidence over three decades makes no room for disbelievers.”
Most notably, this scandal has prompted the popularity of #MeToo around the Internet, which is meant to foster an encouraging environment for victims to safely recount their stories of abuse. According to the Washington Post, Alyssa Milano, the original creator of the Twitter hashtag, was motivated to spread awareness on the gravity of sexual abuse rampant in society. The sheer amount of responses has indicated that while Weinstein is a notorious case, the pervasiveness of sexual abuse is rampant not only within the Hollywood industry but among all of society.
“I think the #MeToo hashtag is important because it tells everybody that sexual abuse is not solely reserved for celebrities,” said Jin Chung (12). “It can happen anywhere, and sadly, at any age. In addition, it makes us reconsider our boundaries of sexual abuse – what we may not have considered as sexual abuse before is now coming to light.”