Hollywood Rape Allegations: what does our reaction say about us?

If you haven’t heard about the recent rape allegations that have been hitting some of Hollywood’s most notables, a quick web search will catch you up to speed. As of this post, there are thirteen actors and directors currently accused of sexual harassment and/or assault. Some allegations are as far back as the 90s and as recent as last month.

Before we break into this, it’s important to note that there is a statute of limitations. That is, a period of time in which someone can be tried for their crimes. Sexual violence is rated from small misconducts such as harassment to rape. The statute of limitations differs depending on the state. Some states have no deadline.

It’s because of this that some of the allegations date back so many years ago. You might then ask yourself: “Why now?” There are those who might see the current news and think the current events are almost comical in their quantity, a witch hunt if you will. It’s important then to consider the fact that people’s careers have been ruined because they chose to come forward to the police.

Weinstein was the start of this flooding of rape and harassment victims coming forward. A man who’s known for destroying the careers of those who spoke against him is finally getting attention for his actions. If police are moving to gain evidence against him, a juggernaut in his field, then why not others who did the same thing?

However, with so many people coming forward, it’s unsurprising that these events are making enough noise to become the butt of some tasteless jokes. There are those who think this flood of allegations is about several dozen women crying ‘rape’ when in fact we are finally at a point in our society that women feel that they can finally report what happened to them without fear of being retaliated against in slanderous fashion like in Gutierrez’s case with Weinstein.

We’re at a point where social media has power. Power to harm people’s reputations or erase their crimes. Why not use this power to bring crimes like this into the public eye so that they can be dealt with instead of focusing on the sheer number of allegations as a reason to ignore them. The only problem I personally have with the number is that it could not have been reported sooner.


Ambra Gutierrez, one of Harvey Weinstein’s many accusers.

Selected titles, available for checkout at Media Services, related to sexual assault, rape culture, and sexual harrassment:

“The Hunting Ground” (Call no. LB2345.3.R37 H86 2015), 2015 Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival, addressing sexual assault on US campuses.

“It Was Rape” (Call no. HV6561.I82 2013), a Women Make Movies release, in which women share personal stories of their experiences of rape and its aftermath in a culture steeped in denial and cover-up.

“The Invisible War” (Call no. UB418.W65 I58 2012b), addressing the prevalence of rape and other forms of sexual misconduct in the US military.

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