In the wake of many women in Hollywood coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault against famed film producer Harvey Weinstein, a social media campaign has been born. Women across the globe have taken to popular sites to share personal experiences with sexual assault.
However, in the attempt to de-stigmatize conversations about assault, others, often the accused, have criticized the movement as a “witch hunt.”
The trend continues as more men and women in Hollywood have come forth with allegations of sexual assault, against Weinstein and actors Jeremy Piven and Kevin Spacey. Afterwards, famed director Woody Allen (with his own past accusations of assault coming from his daughter) likened this mass influx of allegations to a “witch hunt atmosphere” on Hollywood’s most powerful men.
This “witch hunt” is powerful.
Allen’s comment is not only rooted in sexism, but it is baffling. Historically speaking, the witch is culturally framed as a women that subverts “normal” womanhood. She intimidates society with her otherness and her great capacity for harm.
This paints powerful women to be a source of un-trustable, insidious evil.
But instead, reality shows a large group of mistreated women demanding that this mistreatment be recognized. They demand that men face consequences for repeated sexual assault. They wish to upset an antiquated power structure because it thrives at the expense of quiet victims.
If this is what a witch is, then we should all be witches, demanding that the world finally listen to women.
While Allen uses his platform to bemoan the “witchiness” of women, he defends a system that has protected his power, unchecked. When Dylan Farrow came out with allegations of rape against him – her father – his career remained untarnished, enjoying fame, money, and Golden Globes.
Hollywood has been guilty of turning a blind eye on assault, as has been the world.
Now, massive public platforms like social media are bring this issue to light. What is more crucial is what happens in response to this outpouring of allegations and #MeToo.
Men who abuse their power do not deserve thriving careers, their misdeeds written off with simple apologies. Abusers do not deserve limelight, money, or fame. And while society has so often told us to discount the stories of the abused, we must not.
If absolute career destruction seems too much for you, I promise that it’s not. Actress Winona Ryder’s career was nearly destroyed after she merely shoplifted.
A witch hunt on Hollywood (and the world’s) most powerful is a long time coming.
Hopefully, #MeToo is just the start.