Sexual misconduct: a national problem

At the beginning of October news media outlets began reporting on film producer Harvey Weinstein and the women who have accused him of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape. Over the past month more and more allegations came to light against Weinstein, with newsweek.com reporting that more than 80 women have claims against the producer.

Also in that time period, people have come out with allegations against other well-known men. While a large number of these men have also been in the Hollywood entertainment industry, many are not. Some of these claims were against people like actor Kevin Spacey, actor and director Ben Affleck, former president George H.W. Bush, journalist Mark Halperin, comedian Louis C.K., and musician Jesse Lacey, frontman of the band Brand New. These allegations have shown that this isn’t just a Hollywood problem.

For decades, well-known people in the entertainment industry have come forward with claims of sexual harassment or assault. In October of 2016, actress Tippi Hedren accused director Alfred Hitchcock of sexual assault while working with him back in 1963. Marilyn Monroe claimed to have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted regularly in Hollywood by powerful men in order to get roles in movies. Until Weinstein, most cases resulted in little to no consequences for the accused, either legally or socially. Filmmaker Woody Allen was accused of sexually abusing his seven-year-old daughter in 1992, yet even with this claim his career hasn’t suffered. Allen is still winning awards, working with Hollywood stars, and making movies. In 2014 Allen’s daughter spoke out about the abuse she claims to have suffered from her father as a child with New York Times, but Allen once again denied the allegation and it made almost no impact on the public’s perception on him.

Until recently, many of those who claimed to have suffered from sexual misconduct have stayed silent. On October 10, actor Terry Crews published a series of tweets detailing his alleged sexual assault last February, but only revealing today on Good Morning America that it was talent agent Adam Venit who allegedly assaulted him.

Crews says that he understands why people stay silent after enduring sexual misconduct, and that he only came forward after all the women who accused Weinstein did. Crews says if he had used force to defend himself, he would have been blamed. “If I would have just retaliated in defense, I would be… [in] jail right now. That’s one thing I knew, that being a large African-American man in America, I would immediately be seen as a thug,” he stated in his interview with Good Morning America.

The public also seems to rely on the idea that claims of sexual misconduct are often false, but in reality only around two percent of rape and related sexual misconduct reports are false, according to Stanford University, and only 40 percent of all cases are ever reported.

More and more claims of sexual misconduct against men in positions of power come out every day. It seems that the nation is taking a step in the right direction by condemning those who abuse their positions in power with sexual misconduct. In some cases removing these people are removed from their positions, such as with Weinstein being removed from his company and Venit being put on leave by the media company he’s with. As time goes on, the effects these events will have on how sexual misconduct is handled in the future will be seen.

Actress Natassia Malthe, left, with her attorney Gloria Allred, speaks about being the victim of sexual harrassment by Harvey Weinstein during a press conference Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2018 at Lotte New York Palace Hotel in New York. (Howard Simmons/New York Daily News/TNS)