Sexual Assault in the Industry: Intersectional Factors

(Content Warnings: Sexual assault, sexual abuse, molestation, rape, rape drugs)

There’s an open secret in the culture that we currently and actively take part in that not only is sickening but it’s also easily ignored.  

We still currently live in a rape culture.  

Sexual abuse is rampant and we thought it would be better as the years progressed and as we brought forward more movements; it’s not to the substantial proportion it needs to be at.  It’s simply not. Sexual assault and rape has fallen 63% from 4 out of 1000 people in 1993 to 1.6 out of 100 people in 2015.  While that is progress, it’s not enough.

These numbers baffle me.  

It needs to be understood how this is still occurring in every community and that there are different industries that allow for this to continue.  Universities, secondary schooling, groups homes, Hollywood, hospitals and anywhere there is power and influence.  Who’s to be held accountable and why are the voices of sexual assault survivors silenced?

Sexual abuse in large industries is not a new thing.

To act surprised or even astonished that a powerful figure in the industry, especially in the case of Woody Allen or Harvey Weinstein, has been exposed as a sexual predator is ridiculous.  What needs to be understood is who are the abusers of power, why they get away with it, and why this community allows this to be a hidden secret.  There’s much to unpack and it’s going to start with the Hollywood industry.

The first thing that needs to be said is that this is not a Hollywood problem.  No, it’s a privileged man with power and authoritarian issues problem.  It’s not accidental that many of the sexual assaults that occur to men and women are from usually wealthy, powerful men who know without a doubt that they can get away with whatever their actions hold.  

Recently, American film producer and revealed sexual predator, Harvey Weinstein has had numerous accusations of him sexually harassing women.  The revelation is apparently a “shock” to some of the big wigs of Hollywood, but it certainly was not ringing true for multiple actresses who have come forth with their own personal experiences with the sexual predator.

He’s not the first predator and they are not the only victims.

Woody Allen married his step daughter after she became legally able to marry a fully grown man, but it is important to mention that she was a child raised in his home.  This is becoming more unsettling the more I break this down.  Was there abuse?  Mia Farrow, the child’s mother, states that her child was groomed and may have been sexually assaulted.  What staggers me is why did he not have a bigger investigation leading into his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn?

Let’s talk about this.

Corey Feldman brought forth multiple allegations against Hollywood executives and agents that prey on the vulnerable in the industry and are still currently in the industry. When he was questioned about who they were, he stated that he legally was unable to answer because of California law that has a statute of limitations. Bill Cosby is infamous for his alleged drugging and sexual assault of women; the late Carrie Fisher was being told by her director not to wear undergarments when she was on set for the Star Wars films, and Terry Crews reported being groped by executives. These cases are not random incidents.

Each incident has one thing in common and it is the internalization of the rape culture that these individuals perpetuate.  Women and children are not the only victims but it is also men who fall into this sick perversion that allows for power and money to silence everyone’s voices.

What also needs to be discussed are apologists.  I am unable to fathom how someone can be so callous to say that they simply did not know and if they did, how could they have looked the other way? Quentin Tarantino states that he “regrets not acting on itr” and that he is shocked that something like this came from someone who stood with him in the production of his films.  Tarantino, did you stay silent so that your career can be protected? At this point, I don’t know whether him speaking out now is an act to save his own image.  Is it possible that he knew that his knowledge of Weinstein would come forward?

We live in a society where it is structured so that abuse is committed by the powerful or by the individual who has a foundation that can coerce or abuse those who are  marginalized.  It’s not accidental that 9 out of 10 sexual assaults are committed against women.  It’s not a surprise that the majority of our sex trafficking victims are young teenage girls or women.  And it’s certainly not surprising that the ones’ holding this power or are the sexual predators are mostly men.

This society is a patriarchal society where by default the men, especially white men, have power embedded already into their hands.  Sexual predators are able to continue to offend because they either have the influence to ‘hush hush’ their crimes or they have defenders who will defend them regardless of whether they are guilty or not.

No more.

It needs to be understood why this abuse occurs and it starts at a societal level.  When power and money are considered the forefront to success, moral obligations seem to evade certain groups of individuals and they seem to have it in their minds that their actions are not held accountable.  

What makes things even more startling is that people of color who are sexual assault survivors do not get the privilege of having a foundation such as #MeToo or even having the ability to speak out.  In a society where we have made it incredibly easy to replace a person of color from their occupation, the stance of speaking about one’s own assault is minimal.

Movements such as #MeToo bring to light the deeply ingrained sexual abuse in society that we ignore.  While there are limitations to the #MeToo complain, it is yet another call to society to wake up and start the drive to change how we address sexual assault as a society.

It raises the question of whether or not these movements are effective and if they fix our society rather than just raise critique about the abuse that occurs.

LakeKholood Abuhadid is a fourth year Biomedical and Medical Lab Science student with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  She is Palestinian-American and is passionate about Palestinian rights as well as encompassing feminist intersectional ideology.  Kholood is an avid reader and loves to dabble in creative writing.  She hopes one day to establish herself in the world of medical research as well as have an active voice in the Public Health world.  She also thinks she’s good at knitting but in reality is actually quite horrible! Managing editor.



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