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Monday, June 24, 2024

We live in a society where sexual assault and abuse are not only too common but pretty much expected. We live in a society where those with power feel entitled to take what they assume they deserve. We live in a society where women are exploited. Worst of all, we live in a society that is allowing all of this to happen. Again. And again. And again.

The New York Times recently published an expose revealing prominent American film producer Harvey Weinstein has been paying off his sexual harassment accusers for decades. The piece chronicles years of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, at least eight of which ended in settlements.

Once the news of Weinstein’s less-than-admirable past had surfaced, The Weinstein Company, which he co-founded in 2005, immediately fired him. Soon after, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to immediately expel Weinstein. We certainly wouldn’t say the ramifications for Weinstein’s actions were insignificant. Weinstein deserved to be fired from his company, he deserved to be expelled from the Academy and he absolutely deserved the insurmountable amount of public shame he has received. But are these precautions enough? Not even close.

The main aspect of Weinstein’s punishments we feel compelled to touch on is the reasoning behind them. It seems to us his repercussions were administered so the organizations could maintain a favorable public appearance, not because they felt what Weinstein did was wrong.

We find it unlikely these companies and organizations he worked closely with weren’t the wiser when it came to the truth behind these rumors. So why wait until now to reprimand him? The answer is because now, the public is watching and has proof.

Weinstein is not an anomaly. He does not represent a rare case or unique set of circumstances. He represents the norm, and the only way we will be able to change this norm is by fully prosecuting the Weinsteins of the world.

What Weinstein deserves is to be prosecuted. He deserves to be made an example to all other men in powerful positions who are exploiting their power. He deserves to be put on trial. He deserves to face charges. He deserves to be reprimanded.

As explained in The New Yorker, these women took so long to come forward with their stories because of fear. Fear their careers and futures would be crushed. Fears their allegations would be seen as fictitious, dreamed up to get themselves attention in the media. Fear the abuse and harassment would only intensify.

The fear these women had is not uncommon and, like we said before, Weinstein is not an anomaly — he is the norm. When these types of men are let off the hook, other men think it’s OK to do the same. If there is not a moral inhibitor for these men when it comes to sexual abuse and harassment, what else is there to stop them? These powerful men aren’t going to prison. They aren’t being punished to the point where other people are scared of being punished in the same way, but they need to be.

The things Weinstein did to these women are unforgivable and horrific. He raped them, exploited them and had them backed into a corner where they had nowhere else to turn, living in silence and anguish.

Weinstein deserves to be in prison, not walking the streets as a potential predator. The Weinsteins of the world will not stop until they have a reason. Dear reader, it’s time we start giving these people a reason to stop. It’s time we stop accepting sexual assault as the norm.

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