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Hollywood’s Hypocrisy: Punishment for One, Not All

Isabella Lopez, Co-Editor

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In the past weeks, 60 women have come forward alleging that Harvey Weinstein, film producer and co-founder of Miramax, sexually harassed or raped them. After The New York Times broke the story, stating that Weinstein had not only sexually abused dozens of women in his production companies, but actually paid them large sums of money to keep quiet about it, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to remove Weinstein from the Academy, declaring, “We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.”

The decision is admirable, but Weinstein is hardly the only man outed as an abuser in Hollywood, so why is he only one of the few who are actually being punished? The Academy’s hypocrisy is astounding. Just last year, the Academy, host of the annual Oscars award ceremony, awarded Casey Affleck Best Actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea, even after the 2010 allegations made against him by various women regarding sexual harassment. And after Woody Allen was accused of sexually abusing his daughter in 1993, the Academy presented him with nominations and one award for six movies between 1994 and 2013. In 1977, Roman Polanski was arrested for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. He was nominated for three awards after, winning one in 2003. And the list goes on. There are many others who go unpunished in Hollywood, even after being outed for sexual and physical abuse.

Many people believe this is partially the fault of their victims. Why didn’t these women speak out earlier? Well, sometimes it seems like there isn’t very much of a point. Why should women have to recount the trauma they’ve gone through for their abusers to only receive a slap on the wrist? In a world where the President of the United States can proudly say that he will grab women by their genitals or in the 2016 case People v Brock Turner, where a rapist can be charged with three felonies regarding rape, but only serve three months in prison would “have a severe impact on him” (as if rape does not severely impact rape victims), what is the point? And not only are people not punished for their actions, but there is often a severe power imbalance between abusers and their victims. Young men and women do not want to stir controversy with someone who could make or break their career in a second. In a stream of tweets, actor Terry Crews recounted a time he was groped by a Hollywood executive. Men are not exempt from sexual and physical abuse by others, but they are expected to keep quiet about it because admitting to it would make them seem “less of a man.” So if a 6’3”, 240-pound man can be sexually assaulted and be afraid to speak out against it, how must it feel for women, often lesser in stature and often told that they are overreacting?

And this power imbalance does not only cause people to stay silent for fear of losing their careers, it also causes others to neglect to offer support and speak out against abusers because they too are afraid of hurting their own careers. Actor Griffin Newman tweeted out his own string of tweets, detailing how he deeply regretted working with Woody Allen, whom he believes to be guilty of sexually abusing his daughter. He was afraid of disappointing his parents and losing out on valuable experience. Now, he claims he was a “coward.” Griffin states, “I’ve been steadfast in what I stand for in my personal life and on Twitter, but would largely take the check and bite my tongue on set. I can’t keep professionally operating from a place of fear. It’s time to show a courage in my actions mirroring my words without concession.” In his first act of support, Newton donated his salary to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network.

Newton is right. We can no longer allow our own personal fears to allow us to be complicit in the abuse of those around us. We cannot only be activists and advocates when it is convenient for us. We must band together and speak out against abuse when we see it and ensure that survivors of physical and sexual abuse are granted the justice they deserve.

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Hollywood’s Hypocrisy: Punishment for One, Not All