WANG: Perpetuation of sexual assault must always be condemned
Opinions Column: A Third Person Perspective
A few articles back, I wrote about Anthony Weiner’s horrific abuse of power by involving himself with a 15-year-old child through sexually explicit text messages, photos, videos and other things. I still stand by the fact that Weiner should be held fully accountable for his actions, but I think it is time I took back much of what I said.
In regards to all the rising sexual assault accusations and allegations launched towards people such as Weiner, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K, Kevin Spacey and even those at a massage parlor (yes, a massage parlor), I really started to regret what I said. I mentioned how people such as Weiner put the women in our family in danger. Weiner put our daughters, nieces and cousins at risk with his predatory behavior, all of which is true. But it should not be this mentality of protecting those we love just because they are women. It should stem from this idea of human decency, in which we advocate for not just the respect of women, but everybody as well. What certain abusive men choose to do when positioned in authority, power and fame is something that we all can take a lesson from. This is not just a feminist issue anymore — this is starting to paint a bigger picture.
Seeing the people you watch and admire face sexual assault allegations is almost sad. Seeing all these men you admired for their talent and humor and quick-wit, only to realize that they masturbate in front of women because they feel the pressing urge to — it is sick. Other than the assault against women by their coworkers, there is an obvious pattern among sexual assault, abuse and misconduct by men in positions of power. Clearly, on their path to power and fame, there must have been something along the lines that almost permits this kind of behavior. Is it the idea of fear which silences their victims? Is it the idea that women should be grateful to be in the presence of a celebrity? Whatever the reason is, we even see it in our own president’s past when he stated in 2005 that “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
I am not really sure what is worse — that this kind of attitude where the permissibility of sexually assaulting and harassing women becomes explicit in conversation, or President Donald J. Trump attempting to dodge responsibility by calling it “totally fake news, just fake.” How can he brag about grabbing women by the genitals and then pretend that is not what he ever stood for? Or how about Weinstein giving the most insincere apology by stating, "I realized some time ago I needed to be a better person …”? Why does it take him committing sexual assault for him to realize that he needs to be a better person? Or when Louis C.K admitted that the accusations towards him were true and said, “But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d*** isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.” Does this even need to be contemplated?
These excuses, justifications and explanations for behavior are things that should make any adult shake his or her head. This rampant lack of respect towards women is becoming so normalized in entertainment it almost becomes this twisted right of passage to endure crude sexual advances or even sexual assault to get to where you want to be in Hollywood. The constant articles being written every few hours laden with accusations and allegations toward abusive men in power has been long coming. It is about time that we made people take responsibility for their actions, because some people are incapable of doing so themselves. It is not just about condemning these people because they put the women in our lives at risk anymore. It is about condemning these people for not just the blatant disrespect of their female peers, but this disgusting perpetuation and encouragement of sexual abuse that others take as permission. Even through the midst of all the allegations surfacing every single day, both men and women are victims of sexual abuse and assault. Both genders are vulnerable to these hurtful and degrading attitudes towards sex that permits such behavior which keeps victims hidden for even longer, and also protects perpetrators with a shield of fame and money.
Ashley Wang is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in English and minoring in philosophy. Her column, "A Third Person Perspective," runs on alternate Fridays.
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