#MeToo movement shows range of abuse

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 9, 2017) – American film producer Harvey Weinstein. Nationally acclaimed chef John Besh of New Orleans. Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly. Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey. And former “America’s Dad” Bill Cosby.

These are a few of the prominent names enmeshed in allegations of sexual harassment and more that have spawned the #MeToo social media movement, a call for social change that is long overdue. Society must stop victim-blaming and instead hold attackers and abusers accountable for their horrendous actions.

The most recent arena from which claims have come is Capitol Hill itself, where former Congresswoman Mary Bono recently reported continual harassment from a colleague during her stint there.

The #MeToo campaign originally began 10 years ago by Tarana Burke, founder of youth organization Just Be Inc., but the movement did not hit the masses or trend until actress Alyssa Milano called out for all women to share their stories via Twitter using the hashtag #MeToo on Oct. 15.

It has netted 1.7 million tweets in 85 different countries since it appeared on Milano’s Twitter account on Oct. 15 according to PBS NewsHour.

“Boys will be boys” is what we sometimes hear to dismiss and trivialize sexual assault and harassment claims. But society has to start young with gender equity lessons, teaching little boys they cannot pull the hair of girls when they have a crush to show affection, to stop claiming that teenage boys must be driven by their sexual needs and demand that grown men can’t become insulted and act out when women are not interested.

The Weinstein scandal and others – including claims about the 45th president – has brought renewed and greater interest and dialogue on what apparently is an open secret in all of society’s arenas.

Donald Trump continues to claim all women who have come forward against him with sexual assault accusations are lying, but it is disgraceful for the leader of this country to be facing these allegations by not just one woman, but 11!

And let’s not forget he has been on record on “Access Hollywood” recordings using vulgar language bragging about touch and kissing women without their permission, including his infamous quote about “grab[bing] them by the pussy.”

Great role model, right?

Weinstein, following the 59 accusations immediately lost his company, removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is facing possible prosecution. Besh had to step down from running his company. Spacey’s popular “House of Cards” has been canceled.

Actresses have come forward with how they have endured harassment, objectification and abuse. For example, actress Jennifer Lawrence spoke candidly about her experiences of harassment in Hollywood, such as when she had to stand in a line nude while a casting director inspected her and others women's bodies. Gabrielle Union and Reese Witherspoon have both spoken of personal instances, and Union vowed to continue to talk about it until she does not hear the response, “me too.”

Women have stayed quiet for too long about these horrendous experiences because they feel no person will take their pain seriously or because society tends to blame the victim – saying she was “asking” for it when she dresses a certain way, flirts, or drinks.

Stop asking victims what type of clothes were they wearing, how much they had to drink. Stop asking why they were with the attacker in the first place and other such victim-blaming statements that are infuriating. This is not about sex: It is about power and its abuse.