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The Consequences of Victim Shaming

Questioning the role society takes when addressing subjects such as sexual assault and rape

Dana Nasr, Reporter

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One in three women. This is not a statistic for a disease or an illness, nor is it a statistic for some great achievement committed by women. This is the statistic that is found when googling “female sexual harassment”. One in three women. That means there is a high chance that a friend, a sister, a mother, a teacher or a coworker has been subject to this type of harassment.

The more concerning statistic is the one that states one in six women have been sexually assaulted or raped. These statistics give vital insight to the point that there is a problem. For a long time there has been a problem that has been quieted, shameful to discuss and therefore not spoken about. Recently, there has been a hashtag started on social media of people internationally posting  ‘me too’ for the purpose of showing a more realistic count of everyone who has been subject to sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, giving more magnitude to the issue. The result of this viral hashtag is 4.7 million responses which incorporate mass exposure to personal stories.

The hashtag trend began when news broke that Harvey Weinstein, an acclaimed film producer, had been accused of over 60 counts of alleged sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. What sets him apart from any other sexual predator is the fact that many in the film industry turned a blind eye to his behavior and distasteful actions because of the intimidation set by his position in power.

After the story broke in the New York Times, many in Hollywood started to speak out about having speculations of Weinstein’s behavior, but never doing anything about it or feeling they had the power to do anything about it. Because Weinstein’s sexual assault was never reported or talked about, it never stopped. What contributed most to Weinstein’s open secret was his powerful position, making him seem untouchable and therefore unstoppable. Even when allegations had been reported against Weinstein, he was known to make settlements to clear himself out of the wrong. In his case, being successful and rich is what excused him from these acts of sexual assault and rape.

This is the perfect example toward the ingrained rape culture that is established from the moment a woman is faced with these disgusting experiences. Girls are raised to watch what they wear, where they go, and what time they go out to avoid triggering this type of behavior in a predator. If a woman is then to be sexually assaulted there is an immediate assessment of her faults and what she may have done to influence her attack, attaching blame to the victim rather than the attacker. That is why many fear to speak out if they have been attacked for the fear of being accused of something they could not control.

On the other hand, it is also ingrained in society to look up to people who are successful and attain a higher status and place these people in an ‘untouchable’ state of being even when they are in the wrong. These societal factors are what caused this Weinstein case to have gone on for so long and be hushed. By not reporting Weinstein’s behavior it was almost as if it were encouraged.

This hushed behavior by society needs to be altered from dismissing the perpetrator to giving full blame to the perpetrator. The acts of sexual assault and rape should not be actions a person can get away with. By altering the societal norms and ideologies, society can put this traditional thought processes to rest.

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