George Takei, Louis C.K. and Richard Dreyfuss are the latest members in a growing club of male celebrities accused of sexual assault in Hollywood. The scandal, as it continues to be called, appears to have been a running joke in the celebrity world for years, with references to the Hollywood “casting couch” having peppered some vocabulary over the years and with jokes about certain celebrities’ sexual proclivities making it into shows like Family Guy. It is a sign of some progress that at least some of the men have come forward and acknowledged that to an extent, men’s behavior towards women during the years they were accused of the misconduct were contributing factors in their behavior at the time – if they owned up to it, that is.
It is also positive that the women and men who have been victimized have also started to discuss their experiences. America Ferrara, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern have all recently come forward to talk about, to one extent or another, their experiences as victims of sexual assault. Their experiences were acknowledged in three separate articles in the New York Daily News. Even male victims of either sexual harassment or sexual assault have started talking, such as Anthony Rapp, who first broke the news of what appears to have been a long line of sexually inappropriate behavior committed by once-venerated actor Kevin Spacey.
Dreyfuss, in fact, acknowledged that the implicit acceptance of men’s sexual behavior around women was part of the problem.
“How men have behaved toward women for eons is not OK,” Dreyfuss said in a statement to Vulture, according to IOL.
Dreyfuss’ son Harry spoke out about his own experience of sexual assault, allegedly with Spacey, last week. Harry Dreyfuss’ experience dated back to 2008, reportedly.
With all that is occurring in Hollywood circles, some might wonder if there is an uptick in reporting of sexual assault in the “civilian” realm. While such data may not exist – yet – there appears to be an increase in references about what to do to encourage kids to speak out about sexual assault and harassment.
RAINN, for instance, offers a range of suggestions, such as discussing your own experiences with sexual assault with teens, or the importance of caring for your friends, as two important ways of mitigating the risk of sexual assault for your teenagers. When discussing sexual harassment or assault with younger children, RAINN encourages parents to make time to discuss these issues with their kids.
“Give them your undivided attention, and let them know you take their concerns seriously,” their article, “Talking To Your Kids About Sexual Assault,” states. “They may be more likely to come to you in the future if they know their voice will be heard.”
Indeed, while campaigns such as #metoo continue to garner notice and more of Hollywood appears to fall under the category of sexual assault perpetrator or sexual harasser or even sexual predator, one cannot ignore facts. There continues to be a myth that someone who perpetrates sexual assault is a stranger, when in reality, the accused rapist will more than likely be someone known to the victim, according to the UK Center For Research On Violence Against Women.RAINN reported that out of every 1,000 reported cases of rape, only four are successfully prosecuted, and part of the problem is that sexual assault continues to be a under-reported crime.
While it is noteworthy that people are continuing to come forward with accusations of sexual assault or sexual misconduct against members of Hollywood elite, we as a society need to continue to support those who do come forward with sexual assault allegations. We need to take the lens off of what is occurring in Hollywood regarding the growing sexual misconduct scandal that is encompassing more alleged perpetrators and examine what is being done to bring sexual assault criminals to justice in order to allow the victims to heal.
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