Kenton Gibbs | Staff Writer
With the pervasiveness of sexual assault in Hollywood and elsewhere recently coming to light, there’s something I have to say. Sexual assault and interpersonal violence are not topics which should become split along party lines. I am one of those people that feels like most problems of our society can be traced to either America’s roots or the ideologies of its two major political parties. However, sexual assault and interpersonal violence against women aren’t a part of those issues.
Besides being sexual predators, what do Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven, Oliver Stone, Harvey Weinstein, Senator Roy Moore, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Louis C.K, Roger Ailes, and President Donald Trump have in common? At first glance it isn’t political party. One might be tempted to say sexuality until one realizes Kevin Spacey identifies as a gay man. So what is the shared thread? Simply put, these are powerful men abusing their power and asserting dominance over those around them.
When Fox News was having all of their sexual assault skeletons dragged out of the closet, I was happy that predators were being exposed left and right, but I knew the source would cause problems. Fox is known for being very conservative, so the first thing people jumped to was not whether or not the survivors are okay. Instead, it was about how conservatives are predators who don’t care about women.
Well lo and behold, when the heavily liberal-leaning Harvey Weinstein was found to be a notorious predator, it became about how Democrats are the real predators. This shouldn’t become a match about which party and its supporters does what more. It should be about how we can raise our boys in a manner that isn’t conducive to many predators’ sense of entitlement.
The often quoted “When Is Rape Okay” studies shine a light on this. The study was conducted among high school students in 1978, so many people feel as though we have progressed past these types of ideas, but this clearly isn’t true. One of Weinstein’s first statements after his accusers came forward was this: “I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”
Unfortunately there was never a time where masturbating into a plant in front of a coworker was socially acceptable. But even beyond him and this ever growing list of abusers, there is something to be said for our culture when inexcusable sexual behavior is conducted by men so frequently. And I applaud all of the women who are speaking up regardless of how close the day they speak about their dramatic experience is to the actual event. The most visible voices are those of A-list actresses, however my hat goes off especially to the everyday women who used a gesture as simple as the hashtag #metoo.
If women among the ranks of Lupita Nyong’o, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have had these vile acts done to them and felt the need to stay silent, what are the odds that women of much lower recognition would feel emboldened enough to speak up? Just know that if the men of Capitol Hill, as well as Hollywood, are steadily adding to their sexual assault tally, who’s to say those working in the fast food industry aren’t? But I want to reiterate again, this is not a women’s issue. Men, it’s on us to reverse this disturbing trend.
Fellas, check your friends when they say rapey jokes. Make it your business to ensure that the people in your circle aren’t the type to think that they are entitled to women’s bodies. Your jersey, your letters, your name in the closing credits, nor your corner office guarantee you agency to a woman’s body. Nothing but consent from that woman gives you that.