Stop Making Martyrs Out Of Misogynists

By Hope Taylor

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Even if you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure the widespread effect of the #metoo movement and the endless sexual misconduct accusations have somehow managed to slither underneath. What’s even more concerning than the staggering prevalence of sexual harassment and violence is the fact that many fans are siding with the accused. When fans stand up for celebrities, they defend someone they’ve most likely never spoken to, have never met, and never will meet. The general public is fed the image of a celebrity personality as packaged by a social media team, instilling in their minds a specific representation of this person.

Do you ever think about how easy it is, with the power we give to celebrities, for them to do whatever they want and get away with it? Many people willfully ignore evidence to preserve the image of their favorite actor, musician, or writer, refusing to believe their childhood hero could be problematic because it would ruin their sense of nostalgia.

Somehow, sadly enough, it seems a continuous pattern in accusations to doubt the victim (but what else is new?) Instead of asking why a male celebrity would abuse a woman, we ask why the woman could possibly lie about abuse, why she tolerated it, why she waited so long to speak out, and so on. In case you’re doubting, here are some possibilities!

  1. Accusing a celebrity or someone well-respected is an inconceivably intimidating act. Celebrity men have so much power, status, money, and fame, that a victim could feel voiceless in comparison. Who could possibly believe one person’s word over someone so universally loved and listened to? Actor Terry Crews details these reasons in a recent CNN article.

  2. A celebrity’s money, power, and status could manipulate a victim to stay quiet about it for fear of their safety and career. (Ahem, Harvey Weinstein)

  3. People often attack victims for accusing celebrities for assault, and coming out could be dangerous for the victim. A recent Teen Vogue article focused on sexual assault victims and survivors, and how they can expect a great deal of backlash and bullying in real life and online.

Regardless of circumstance, the fear of backlash can be enormous. So many people are angry at victims for speaking up about assault; “This allegation could ruin his career!”, “You’re just looking for attention!” Many women can take years to come forward, temper it by saying it was a stranger, or never speak of it at all. It’s easier to tell white lies or lies of omission about rape because people sit better with the idea of an inherently evil man being a rapist--someone who jumps out of the shadows and abducts, a creepy stranger in a trench coat who follows you for a couple blocks. It’s a lot harder to come out in the public, to a courtroom, or to your own family and say that it was your doctor who assaulted you, or your best friend, or your mom’s new boyfriend, or everyone’s favorite science teacher.

Normal men commit crimes. Normal men rape. They take their communal respect and turn it into power. No one would believe someone as NICE, GENTLE, RESPECTABLE, AND TALENTED as John Doe would do such a thing. All too often we hear the familiar phrases: Are you trying to ruin someone’s career and future? Are you looking for attention? You should be grateful that someone so famous/wealthy/handsome wanted to touch you. If this is what happens when “normal” men are accused of sexual misconduct, imagine why so many people avoid accusing a public figure.

Victims don’t call hotlines for fun. Women don’t sit through investigation after investigation, set up court hearings, have to live with the shame and humiliation of being hated for something that isn’t their fault, for fun. We need to end this culture of victim-blaming and stop supporting talents who have hurt other people. We have to refuse to let misogyny and assault be normalized. We have to refuse to let this continue to happen. Every man in Hollywood, Congress, the music industry, and the business world has to be held accountable for their actions.

 

Hope Taylor