By Quanecia Fraser—
The recent increase in sexual harassment allegations is creating dialogue among more people each day. Celebrities are speaking out for the victims of predators like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. Political commentators are expressing their opinions about accusations of politicians accused of sexual assault. On social media, many others are voicing their opinion about the recent rise in sexual harassment allegations against powerful figures in various industries.
What’s even more empowering is the growing number of women speaking out against their assailants.
I’ve heard and read people ask: “Why so late?” and “Why wait more than 20 years later to tell the world that you were assaulted by Bill Cosby?” These are questions that can lead to much needed dialogue, but some of the people asking these questions need to understand this: Accusing someone of sexual harassment or sexual assault often results in scrutiny for the accuser. I have never been sexually assaulted. But I do believe that this is one of the main reasons why so many women keep their sexual assault(s) a secret. Sexual harassments and assaults emotionally destroy victims for years, if not their entire lives—especially when those victims feel that justice was never served. When these victims realize that other women are speaking out against the same assailant, they end up feeling much more comfortable telling their stories too. This is a step in the right direction of giving sexual harassment and sexual violence victims a voice.
The majority of people speaking up about being sexually harassed or assaulted are women, but it is important to remember that sexual harassment and violence does not only happen to women. It happens to men too, and unfortunately, many men still don’t feel empowered to speak up about their traumatic experiences. Actor Terry Crews, known for his roles in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “White Chicks,” reminded us that the sexual harassment of men happens and is often overlooked. He tweeted last month about being groped by Hollywood executive Adam Venit.
“I’ve never felt more emasculated, more objectified. I was horrified,” he said in a Good Morning America interview.
“Rape culture” is real, not a lie created to push a liberal feminist agenda.
Some people hear the term “rape culture” and think of a society where all the women around them are just constantly being raped by men.
But rape culture actually means living in a society that makes it hard for victims to speak up when they are harassed or assaulted. Rape culture means the acceptance of environments where young college boys are encouraged to sleep with as many girls as they want—even if some of the girls are extremely intoxicated or unconscious during the intercourse. Rape culture is asking a victim of sexual assault, “Well, what were you wearing?” Rape culture is guys joking about “running a train” on a woman, even if that woman did not give her consent to have sex with each man involved. Rape culture is when the accusations against successful college athletes are swept under the rug by the same administration that is supposed to protect all of its students.
And finally, allegations of sexual harassment or assault against powerful politicians must be taken seriously — whether we agree with their party views or not. I am disgusted by the knee-jerk reactions to Roy Moore and Bill O’ Reilly accusations with questions such as: “Well, what about Bill Clinton?” Although those accusations against Clinton should have and should still be taken seriously, knee-jerk reactions and “what about?” questions deflect from the issue at hand—sexual misconduct. The same goes for people who express their disdain for Roy Moore or Bill O’ Reilly but are silent on– or even worse, attempt to shame the victims of– alleged sexual misconduct by Clinton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken.
The fact that our current president has been accused by several women of sexual harassment and of groping women is truly shameful. Sixteen women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. That is 16 too many.
Many argue that the women accusing Trump and others of sexual harassment or assault are lying. Yet, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), only between two and 10 percent of reported sexual assaults were found to be false.
Sexual assault and harassment has no party. People of all races, all sexual orientations, all gender identities and all walks of life are victims.
To my fellow Tarleton State University students who have been victims of sexual violence, sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, please know this: I support you and I will continue to advocate for your right to feel safe not only on campus, but in this society.
The hashtag #MeToo is for everyone. Not just women, not just victims of sexual harassment and assault by important people, but everyone.