As a young girl, she was raped by one of her dad’s friends. Alex felt too uncomfortable to speak up about it. For years, she stayed quite. Finally, she spoke up. But it was too late to do anything. “This is actually happening and you need to be able to...talk to someone about it and be heard.” Alex said. At school, Alex has been slut shamed and cat called, without people knowing what has happened to her. “I’ve watched it happen to a lot of girls too...I see it almost everyday.”
“This is actually happening and you need to be able to...talk to someone about it and be heard.”
For thousands of years, women have been treated the same. Men pressed against them, touched them, and hurt them, without waiting for an answer. They have been treated like objects, small playthings only useful for one purpose. Many are ashamed to tell their story, often too afraid to speak up. Some were paid, or forced to keep quiet. In their lifetime, 1 in 6 women will be raped according to RAINN. For men, it’s 1 in 10. Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, only 310 are reported to the police. The disturbing culture behind sexual assault and harassment has finally been recognized -but it’s just getting started.
“I’ve watched it happen to a lot of girls too...I see it almost everyday.”
We have collected sexual misconduct by the numbers. We’ve looked at what constitutes sexual consent--and what doesn’t. We’ve summarized recent events across the nation in the #TimesUp Movement, the support celebrities and Americans have shown for those who have been sexually assaulted.
The hashtags #MeToo and #TimesUp have provided a platform for those who have kept silent and can now be heard. A spotlight shines on persons who believed that sexual assault or sexualization of females was accepted in our culture or endorsed in our movies, TV shows, magazines, and screens.
Everybody’s heard “no means no.” But there are more ways not to consent to and to prevent a sexual act than simply saying a two-letter word. Sometimes, saying no means saying nothing at all. Only “yes” means “yes.” University of Michigan Policy & Procedures on Student Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence defines consent as “a clear and unambiguous agreement, expressed outwardly through mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a particular activity.” Consent has to be clear and can change any time during an activity.
Consent should not be assumed by the following:
- Body language/appearance: the way somebody dresses or acts absolutely does not determine his or her consent.
- Dating or relationships: simply because two people in a relationship have previously had sex does not mean they are consenting to have sex again.
- Marriage: married couples cannot opt out from giving consent. Marital rape is just as serious as any other type of rape.
- Previous activity: Just because you’ve done it before, doesn’t give permission to do it again.
- Lack of resistance or passivity: saying nothing is saying no.
- Incapacitation: alcohol or drug consumption can render a person incapable of giving consent. These are also used as weapons to target individuals and then used as an excuse by perpetrators to defend their actions.
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) offers a hotline and plenty of information for people seeking help. Consent can be reinstated or taken away at any time during an activity, and should always be respected.
Examples of positive consent can be:
- Saying “Is this OK?” when changing the degree of sexual activities.
- Explicitly agreeing to something; saying “yes” or “I’m open to trying.”
- Using physical cues.
- Things like assuming to acknowledge “no,” making assumptions, and anything that is not one of the three bullet points above are not consent.
If you’ve experienced sexual assault, you’re not alone. To speak with a trained professional, call the completely confidential National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673)
Breeding the #MeToo platform followed by the recent #TimesUp movement, Hollywood has become a source of support and activism against sexual assault in entertainment. Hollywood has long since been aware of such assaults, but no movement against them has been quite as strong.
“I think this movement is a great way to educate people and make the sexual abuse epidemic more evident in our culture because it has been hidden for so many years,” Senior Leah Pollock said.
The movement began with the hashtag “me too”, as public figures, both men and women, revealed sexual assault that had previously been kept silent, and reached its peak at the Golden Globes on Jan. 7, where attendees wore black to show their support for those who have faced sexual assault, as well as sporting golden pins reading “Times Up”. Ironically, many of the men who wore these pins, such as James Franco and Aziz Ansari, have been accused of the same assault they were standing against in front of the cameras.
Every 98 seconds, one person becomes a victim of sexual assault in the United States alone, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). A substantial percentage of this assault has been recently exposed in entertainment, beginning with Harvey Weinstein’s excommunication from Hollywood society. His scandal began on Oct. 5, 2017 with the publishing of allegations against him by over 50 women, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Lupita Nyong’o in the New York Times and within three days, he was fired from his own company. This quick action indicated a positive and effective start of the movement. However, the results have greatly slowed since this scandal.
Both men and women have stepped forward as victims of assault since October 2017, earning equal amounts of backlash and applause. Controversy arises as widely loved directors, actors, and public figures continue to find work in Hollywood and actors continue to work with those known to have committed sexual assault, while victims who have come forward are criticized for seemingly false accusations.
Generally only 2 to 7 percent of accusations are false, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, though one false accusation has the power to demerit the entire movement, causing real cases of assault to be dismissed.
For example, in director Woody Allen’s highly scrutinized court case in the 90s, a large amount of evidence indicated that Allen has molested his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, however, public opinion was split. The testimonies of Mia Farrow, mother, and several babysitters aligned, and many of Allen’s claims were found contradictory or not credible, however, seven-year-old Dylan’s account was also found to be inconsistent, and Allen was not harshly punished for the allegations, but custody of Dylan was altered. Despite this scandal, which greatly damaged public view of Allen, major actors such as Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Kristen Stewart, Owen Wilson, Alec Baldwin, and nearly 100 other well known figures have worked with him, many of whom took the job after accusations against him arose.
“We’re here to stand up for all women and men who have been silenced by abuse and harassment and discrimination within their industries.”
Reese Witherspoon, who is actively supporting victims and standing against assaulters, summed up the movement, “We’re here to stand up for all women and men who have been silenced by abuse and harassment and discrimination within their industries.”