Weinstein accusations develop
Sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer flood the media
Nicole Kuhn | Assistant News Editor | The USD Vista
Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, known for directing movies such as “Kill Bill” and “Tulip Fever,” allegedly sexually assaulted 40 women over the course of his career. The accusations swirling around Harvey Weinstein have prompted conversation in the media and on college campuses about the issue of sexual harassment and assault.
Actress Ashley Judd was one of the first to come out to the New York Times in an exposé. Judd said Weinstein came onto her after he invited her to what Judd thought was a business meeting at his hotel. Weinstein allegedly called the young actress to his room, where he asked her for a massage and to watch him shower. After Judd’s interview, 40 actresses, models, and other industry professionals have come forward. From Cara Delevingne to Angelina Jolie, many are speaking out about what happened behind closed doors.
Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Esteban Del Río confronted the issue in his Latina/o Media Moving Images class. He presented a video to his students by the New York Times called “Why Hasn’t Sexual Harassment Disappeared?”
“Media coverage unfolds along the lines of scandal — focus on the perpetrator and the victims,” Del Rio said. “What is different here is that other texts like the #metoo campaign are creating wider awareness of the larger problem of sexual assault and harassment.”
The #metoo campaign was started shortly after the Weinstein scandal by actress Alyssa Milano. The spread of this campaign has created an awareness that sexual assault needs to be discussed. Women shared their own stories about sexual harassment on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
For Del Rio, concern for the safety of men and women is not only exclusive to his role as a professor, but also as a father.
“First, as a father of two young daughters, I want to instill confidence in them as much as I can, and model what it means to be a feminist as a man, and to join with men and women to contest these kind of consequences of unchecked patriarchy,” Del Rio said. “For me personally, this kind of cultural moment causes me to think about my own behavior, and stay reflective about how my beliefs and behaviors align and misalign.”
Harvey Weinstein’s alleged transgressions are not the first case of sexual harassment, but some of many in the professional world. Women like Anita Hill, who brought sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas to the media, and Ashley Judd were just a few of the women attesting to sexual harassment in the workplace back in the early 2000s. Del Rio shared the concerns on the matter.
“Shameful, but not surprising,” Del Rio said. “News about sexual harassment and sexual assault is not really about the person, but about the pattern. The stories circulating about Weinstein should remind us about how such behaviors are shared widely by men in power.”
College campuses do their best to require programs such as Title IX, an educational program about sexual harassment on campus enacted by the university. Amanda Luckett, Prevention and Education Coordinator at the Women’s Center, works closely with Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE), an on-campus resource for students who have been sexually harassed or assaulted.
“Many of the students I work with have engaged in conversation about the #metoo movement on social media, which is one of many hashtags used in the past few years to talk about sexual violence within our culture,” said Luckett. “My hope is that students who are engaging in #metoo know that there are people here at USD who care and want to help.”
Senior Grace McDonald was one of the many to respond to the #metoo campaign.
“All over my news feed on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, were stories of sexual harassment and assault,” McDonald said. “It’s sparked an interesting conversation and acknowledgement that many things can fall under the categories of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault; I saw many women post that they felt their stories weren’t as bad as others, but still felt that they had been violated at some point. The Weinstein case and the following #metoo campaign have highlighted the ubiquity of sexual harassment, and have certainly shown women that they are not alone in this fight against violation.”
The campaign has sparked a movement, and students like McDonald have joined the conversation and have begun to share their stories.
“I have far too many stories of times I’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted,” said McDonald. “I’m not the only one. Most women I know have more than a few stories too. I scrolled through social media and I was saddened but unsurprised by the amount of stories of harassment I was reading. I have to be scared when I have to walk to my car at night. I have to constantly worry about my friends when we’re out at night. I have to think actively and consciously about the way I interact with my professors or bosses just so what I’m saying will be taken seriously.”
McDonald stated that she isn’t the only one.
“If you were surprised by how many women you know or know of that have shared that they’ve been harassed or assaulted, open your eyes,” McDonald said. “Pay attention and stop being complicit. By being silent, by not offering your allegiance to survivors, you are perpetuating the acceptance of behavior like Weinstein’s.”