By Rachel Weir
October 5th marked the anniversary to the start of the #MeToo movement, when Ashley Judd accused the infamous Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault a year earlier, in 2017. Since the start of the movement, victims of sexual assault have been encouraged to speak up against their predators in order to put a stop to victim blaming, and sexual assault as a whole. The root of the movement was within Hollywood women who were assaulted on set, and created a platform for other women in the industry to speak out. While the concept of the movement has inspired women all over the country to speak on instances of sexual assault—notably the recent allegations of Christine Blasey Ford against new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—some discrepancies within supporters of the movement have been evident in those in the film world. Case in point: Woody Allen, the well-known director, writer and actor, who had been accused of molesting his adopted child Dylan, just after his wife Mia Farrow discovered explicit photos that proved he was also having an affair with his 20-year-old adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. Allen’s story ran rapid again in light of the MeToo movement, and yet outspoken supporters of survivors worked with him on a project called A Rainy Day In New York. Selena Gomez, the recent producer of 13 Reasons Why—a Netflix original that drew significant attention to the damage rape and assault can cause— worked with Allen on this project. What kind of message does this send to survivors? Only be outspoken when it favors you? Not only were Gomez’s actions offensive to those who have survived assault in the film industry, it sends all the wrong messages as to what the movement can and should stand for. The MeToo movement should in no way be used as a means to publicize oneself, but instead those with the platform to be heard should be cautious of their voice and power, and truly how their actions can make a real impact. By endorsing a film to a man who has been accused of molestation, Gomez dismissed the allegations and the evidence behind them. She has yet to make any real comment or apology on the matter.
In addition, the MeToo movement has also caused problems in reference to the recent confirmation hearing. The movement was intended for survivors to feel as though they had a voice, and that their experiences were valid. In light of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, this exact goal has been struck down and in fact, it seems that the clock for women and survivor liberation has been turned back 30 years. According to a recent survey conducted by The Economist, there has been a change in the responses since before and after the MeToo movement, showing a shift towards blaming victims instead of believing them. When the president of our country in no way, shape, or form acknowledges sexual abuse, assault and domestic abuse/violence, and in fact has shown sympathy towards the idea of reverse sexism, it comes as no surprise that our nation is leaning more towards victim blaming than believing. The trauma that is sexual assault should not undergo such dismissive responses, and should not be up for debate regarding politics.
The idea that we live in a generation where a girl must calculate each and every way she will gather enough evidence to get her peers and even justice system to believe that she has been assaulted is repulsive. First Lady Melania Trump stated in an interview regarding sexual assault allegations, “I do stand with women, but we need to show the evidence. You cannot just say to somebody, ‘I was sexually assaulted,’ or, ‘You did that to me,’ because sometimes the media goes too far, and the way they portray some stories it’s, it’s not correct, it’s not right…I support the women and they need to be heard, we need to support them and, you know, also men, not just women.” Well, it’s good to know that not only our president but his wife believe in this idea that now in THIS society, reverse-sexism is real and women need “hard evidence” in order to speak out… I’m not sure us women want her on our side.
It seems pretty evident that men are heard, considering this new idea that men need to be “extra careful” when speaking to or touching women. Trump Jr. gave this new movement in the fear of his sons as well. According to The Washington Post Trump Jr. told the media about his fear for his sons in our society: “‘I’ve got boys and I’ve got girls,’ he told the British tabloid, ‘and when I see what’s going on right now, it’s scary.’ When asked whether he was more worried about his sons or daughters, he said, ‘Right now, I’d say my sons.’”
While it’s clear the Trumps are very scared, the statistics according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center show numbers that combat this fear. According to the resource center, “Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. The prevalence of false reporting is low — between 2% and 10%. For example, a study of eight U.S. communities, which included 2,059 cases of sexual assault, found a 7.1% rate of false reports. A study of 136 sexual assault cases in Boston found a 5.9% rate of false reports. Researchers studied 812 reports of sexual assault from 2000-2003 and found a 2.1% rate of false reports.” So not only are the statistics regarding false accusations significantly low, but rape is considered to be the most under-reported crime. Meaning even if a woman is actually assaulted, she may not even come forward due to the backlash and scrutiny she might receive.
This may come as a surprise to you fearful men, but being careful around consent and permission has been the point all along. Do not attempt to victimize yourself around a hypothetical, because of a movement regarding false accusations and reverse-sexism that is proven to be statistically insignificant. This movement was meant to draw attention to those who have been so unfortunate as to experience sexual assault, and as long as consent is given in a clear and coherent way, you should not feel “scared.”