Mohammed Hadid, Mario Testino, Steve Wynn and James Franco are only few of the distinguished public personalities who have been accused of sexual assault in the past year. After the #TimesUp campaign at the Golden Globes, allegations against big personalities of different industries have emerged, opening up what seems to be a never-ending list of demeaning cases.
During the Golden Globes, almost all actors and actresses wore black as a way of supporting the #TimesUp movement. All actresses made sure that the issue of sexual assault in the industry was given the proper consideration. However, the matter was not addressed by any of the male winning actors.
It is disappointing to see that only when A-list celebrities decided to speak up, the media also started to talk about this issue. The reality is, 1 in 5 female students will experience sexual assault before graduating, yet more than 90% of the victims will not report it, and 63.3% of men at one university have admitted to committing multiple rapes. All of this is happening in first world countries. The situation is appalling, to say the least.
Sexual assault can be defined in many ways, but one thing always remains the same: it is never the victim’s fault. The problem is not only the fact that the person being harassed is placed in a horrendous position of subordination, but also that there is certain shame to even talking about this problem. After the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Alyssa Milano simply tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” The result? #MeToo became a trending topic worldwide and millions of people started sharing their experiences.
The reality is, 1 in 5 female students will experience sexual assault before graduating, yet more than 90% of the victims will not report it, and 63.3% of men at one university have admitted to committing multiple rapes.
Among the unexpected women taking a stand and opening up about their own personal experiences are Taylor Swift and Madonna. By doing so they have exposed themselves not only personally but also professionally, yet their testimonies have been questioned. People try to justify the aggressor by saying things like “they were both drunk,” “he is a lovely person,” or “it was just one time, she could’ve said no”. But what could a woman win by saying that she has been harassed? Money? Please.
One of the things that disappoint me the most is that the majority of us cannot even accurately define sexual assault. It is an incredibly loaded term and can mean different things depending on whom you ask; the EIGE states: “whoever offends against the sexual freedom of another person, using violence or intimidation”. The tricky part comes in when there is incapacity of the victim, let’s say due to drunkenness. It is a “grey area” that questions the minimum state of numbness for it to be considered assault. How can we define such an abstract situation? Easy: if she cannot talk, she cannot consent.
I have come to realize that the act itself is not the defining proof, but the experience of the victim, the morality behind it, the ‘feeling’. Some people might not feel victimized, but those who do should not feel as if it is their fault or as if theirs is an isolated case. While we work on a building a society that cherishes and promotes respect among one and other, we should learn how to deal with these situations in a way that isn’t shameful for the victim but rather encouraging and reassuring.
People try to justify the aggressor by saying things like “they were both drunk,” “he is a lovely person,” or “it was just one time, she could’ve said no”. But what could a woman win by saying that she has been harassed? Money? Please.
I know far too many people who have experienced some kind of sexual assault, both men and women. We should work on a society that is open to topics like this and promotes a culture of basic respect when it comes to sexual relationships. We need to understand those with the courage to say “me too”. We need to fight this issue, because overlooking sexual assault, is not okay…
(Here at IE University you can contact the Counseling Service, which is in room 348. You can contact them at mentoring.IEU@ie.edu or +34 921 415 312, they open from 9:30am to 6:00pm.)