An open secret
author: shelbi glover | a & c writer
Exposing truths that are too often ignored
When Bill Cosby’s sexual assault scandal first exploded into the media, I was sitting at the dinner table with my politically conservative, Kentuckian proud, generally ignorant family. “If those girls didn’t want to get raped,” said my aunt, sipping her tea as if she had any semblance of grace, “they shouldn’t have been drunk in the first place.”
If Bill Cosby’s scandal was an explosion, Harvey Weinstein’s is a nuclear blast. Three years since the Cosby case opened, Weinstein (Academy Award winner and founder of Miramax, which produced Pulp Fiction amongst other films) has now been accused of sexually assaulting 82 women, according to Vox. After actress Rose McGowan kickstarted the movement, Hollywood greeted the actresses’ claims with a “deafening silence.”
“Ladies of Hollywood, where are you? Ladies of Hollywood, your silence is deafening,” she tweeted.
In the days following, other victims came forward to discuss their experiences, including Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Chastain, Cara Delevingne, and Lena Headey. A video of Courtney Love circa 2005 began circulating Twitter as well, with her giving the following advice to any young women wanting to get started in Hollywood. “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go.” Love later tweeted that after this interview, she was banned by the CAA (Creative Arts Agency).
But Weinstein isn’t the only man in Hollywood currently under the guillotine. With #MeToo trending worldwide and women everywhere finally having their voices heard, many of the Hollywood elite are being doxxed. In the past month, James Toback, screenwriter and director; Oscar-winners Ben and Casey Affleck; and Kevin Spacey, star of House of Cards and American Beauty, have all been brought front and center with allegations.
Hollywood isn’t oblivious, either. After Kevin Spacey’s exposure as a pedophile (his attempted rape of Anthony Rapp when Spacey was 26 and Rapp was 14), Twitter was quick to link him to an episode of Family Guy in which Stewie declares, “Help! I’ve escaped from Kevin Spacey’s basement! Help me!” This, in itself, is proof enough of what white men in the industry have been doing for decades; remaining silent until it is convenient or profitable for them. If Seth MacFarlane knew and didn’t say anything aside from a bad joke, doesn’t that make him just as bad?
Kevin Spacey, who came out as gay simultaneously with his apology to Rapp, is profiting in another way. By throwing the LGBT community under the bus and attempting to use his queerness as a crutch, he is perpetuating a centuries-old stigma that gay men have long worked to disprove; that pedophilia and homosexuality go hand-in-hand. Newsflash: they don’t. Pedophilia has no sexuality. Kevin Spacey’s statement has, frankly, proven nothing but his cowardice.
Many leaders of the LGBT community have stepped forward to rebuke his claim, including actor Zachary Quinto, who said the following:
“It is deeply sad and troubling that this is how Kevin Spacey has chosen to come out, not by standing up as a point of pride — in the light of all his many awards and accomplishments — thus inspiring tens of thousands of struggling LGBTQ kids around the world. But as a calculated manipulation to deflect attention from the very serious accusation that he attempted to molest one. I am sorry to hear of Anthony Rapp’s experience and subsequent suffering. And I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him — just as his denial served him for so many years. May Anthony Rapp’s voice be the one which is amplified here. Victim’s voices are the ones that deserve to be heard.”
But lest we forget the actors whose offenses flew low under the radar simply because it was a different time. In 2014, James Franco (Spiderman,This is the End), then 35, was caught soliciting sex from a 17 year old. Franco, however, was never seriously reprimanded; in fact, he joked about it in his opening monologue for Saturday Night Live. Ironically enough, Franco had recently released the film “Palo Alto,” which was based on his short story series about a teacher having an affair with his student.
There is bad news and good news in all of this. The bad news: women are being tremendously mistreated not only in the film industry, but in all aspects of life. There are few, if any, women I know who are not victims of sexual assault in one form or another. Men are still not taught to ask for consent, and women live in a constant state of fear because of it.
The good news, you might ask? Times are changing. Three years ago, this might have flown under the radar the same way James Franco’s case did, and 82 women might have been forced to live with the knowledge that no one cared. Instead, they’ve kickstarted a movement and used their platforms to amplify the voices of women who, usually, might never be heard. Because of their bravery, women might finally see their abusers exposed and, from there, suffer like they deserve.
That’s not to say we don’t have a long way to go, but it’s a damn good start. I truly believe that we are living in a time where the traditional arguments about rape, “They shouldn’t have been drunk in the first place” will finally meet their match. I truly believe we are living in a time where rapists from all walks of life — from Harvey Weinstein to Brock Turner — will finally be fearful. I hope they cringe at every Facebook status, tweet, and article. I hope they know that, someday, it will be their turn.
We’re looking at you, Woody Allen.