With many coming forward, the accusations of sexual misconduct won’t disappear anytime soon
About a year ago, my mother and I watched Spotlight when it came to DVD. It was a very eye-opening historical drama that struck a little close to home, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching it as well as taking some lessons away from it.
On a smaller scale, the nonstop slew of accusations and people coming forth claiming sexual misconduct show that the lessons that should have been heeded in Spotlight have yet to be learned.
This all came to a head at the beginning of October with Harvey Weinstein being accused of harassment, assault and rape. Like clockwork, more and more women and men have come steadily forward and accused other members of political and entertainment circles of similar charges. Other accused notables are Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore and Lewis CK, though they are by no means the only other ones.
If you flick through enough channels on TV, you will eventually come across a defender for one of the individuals accused. Because he is political by nature, I’ll go with the Bible-thumping Roy Moore. Several of his defenders, rather than dismissing the accusations outright, are making pretty outlandish claims justifying it in the off chance someone they admire actually did have sexual relations with at least two women who were under the age of 18. Ann Coulter played the card of it being a different time. It was fifty years ago, so it may have been normal then.
Her actual words, “There is one allegation of a woman — yes, he dated girls who were 17, 19 when he was 30. We might find that a little creepy today, but this was nearly 50 years ago. The one serious allegation is a woman — or at the time she was 14 years old who claims actual molestation. But — And who knows.”
His defenders have even gone as far as incorporating the Bible to justify Moore’s actions if they happened. Alabama state auditor Jim Zeigler stated that Jesus was born to a teenage virgin and an adult in an interview with the Washington Observer. I’m not even that religious, and I am insulted with that comparison.
I will admit I am biased because of my disdain for Roy Moore prior to these accusations. I find the irony of a devout zealot breaking several of his own rules too delicious to ignore without finding some enjoyment at him squirming. He is by no means the only one and his accusations should not be measured any differently if he were someone I found quite pleasant. I would be a hypocrite and a write-in for my own editorials of being a total scumbag.
However, looking at all of these accusations, I recall one question being asked by all of these defenders. “Why would anyone wait so long to make this known?” This is usually followed by some claim that they are paid actors to discredit their idols.
Like Spotlight, the answer is simple. Predators rarely go after someone who could challenge or surpass their own power. Who is a child compared to a powerful parish priest? An intern to a boss? A rising actress to an established powerhouse? A fourteen year old girl to an attorney?
In the minds of the prey and the predator, nothing.
That is why the harassment happens, because the victim is at the power of someone who is more influential if not believable than them. They believe there is nothing to do but endure the torment. This plays out in most of the circumstances of abuse: learned helplessness. That is why the accusations come years, if not decades after the abuse happened. The individual abused or harassed believes themselves to be beyond the power of the abuser.
By that time, any time limits or evidence of abuse have disappeared and it becomes a collection of voices against an individual. Legally it is an uphill battle, but in the court of public opinion it is a practical death sentence.
Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, barring some miracle, have no more professional life because of these accusations. Roy Moore is still active, though there is a dagger hanging by a thread over his head. The individuals who seemed untouchable are down, and the people who were abused now see it as a way to confront him without any fear of repercussions from their abuser.
That is why because of these instances, more assault claims will be leveled against these individuals and others will have their own accusers. With the previously established taboo of speaking about these things, let alone leveling claims against powerful individuals, shattered the floodgates will open. This is a problem that will not be fixed overnight and all of these accusations must be dealt with in an appropriate manner. But, just like the movie Spotlight, it only takes one voice to speak out for others to make themselves known.
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