Silent Bystanders Let Us Put A Weinstein In The White House
The recent outburst of allegations against Harvey Weinstein are no surprise to the majority of women in the world—but now we’re finally talking about it on a larger scale. Women frequently face uncomfortable situations from being catcalled on the street, to being harassed by their producer or future president. The stigma around sexual harassment that often puts women at fault is a trend that too many are familiar with, and those who said nothing allowed us to elect a predator as the leader of the free world.
If someone accused of sexual assault and harassment by at least fifteen women since the 1980s, and can admit to saying: “I like to grab women by the pussy,” still becomes president, sexism is not only alive but also thriving.
Even on a small scale, women always have to be on the watch. You make a business connection, excited to propel your career only to see he’s gone and liked your Cabo 2015 Facebook photos. You feel forced to take down photos that you like because a grown man can’t check his manners. You wonder if you’re actually skilled or just a pretty face. You go on a night out, and are groped on the subway—you want to change your clothes but you shouldn’t because they could have just been respectful. You’re paid less than your male counterparts for no reason. You go to a club and your overweight friend is denied but your pretty friend gets in for free.
The examples are endless, and have kept women afraid, feeling powerless because these frequent occurrences are never enough for a lawsuit, but just enough to slowly cripple your dignity. And as soon as it is bad enough for a lawsuit, women are often questioned because no one said anything during the other ‘minor incidents.’
The small encounters faced daily that are ignored by the silent bystanders, are what stops a woman from speaking out. That is why we were able to let Harvey Weinstein maintain his success in Hollywood for years, while keeping a posse of women he disgustingly preyed on.
It’s why we elected someone who has not only committed, but also admitted to committing inappropriate sexual behavior on several accounts. The more we call it ‘locker room talk,’ the more we allow women’s emotional wellbeing to be overlooked by society.
Women, who experience serious harassment from powerful people like Weinstein and Trump, do share a responsibility to use their experience to make change. However, that responsibility falls even more on the silent bystanders who think they’re innocent. Turning a blind eye is just allowing it to happen again.
Women are often reluctant to speak out after these experiences—they fear for their career and reputation, but are mostly embarrassed and vulnerable. The bystanders fear for their career but realistically, if you expose a sexual predator you have nothing to lose, only to be seen as a hero.
The day we elected a president with over 15 allegations of sexual misconduct was the day America proved that fighting sexism is at the bottom of our list of priorities. And what’s at the top? Apparently extravagant golf trips while Puerto Rico starves, denying citizenship to children, and temper tantrums on Twitter that lack spell check.