Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE FILE
Weinstein’s conviction is a victory, but systems of gender-based violence must be dismantled entirely
Earlier this week, beleagured Hollywood producer and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of felony sex crime and rape, but was acquitted of the two most serious charges of predatory sexual assault, according to The New York Times. It is suggested that these decisions were made because the “jurors did not believe the testimony of Annabella Sciorra.”
These accusations against the now infamous Weinstein launched what is now a pivotal moment in the #MeToo movement: One of the most powerful men in Hollywood is being held (somewhat) accountable for his actions. Dozens of brave women stepped forward to bring attention to decades of sexual abuse and assualt allegations, and detailed how Weinstein used his power to ruin the careers of those who dared to speak up.
This verdict, while hard-won, shows how far we, as a society, still have to go in order to hold abusers of power accountable. This culture of suppressing allegations and voices extends far beyond Hollywood — it permeates everyday workplace culture, academia and homelife.
Recently, three brave women came forward to The California Aggie to share their stories of sexual assault. Unfortunately, students at UC Davis are not spared from the same gendered and situational privilege that emboldens men like Weinstein. It was only last year that former members of the now-disbanded Band-Uh! shared accounts of hazing, assault and a generally “toxic” culture.
The New York Times Editorial Board wrote: “It shows how difficult it can be to bring abusers to justice, particularly when they are wealthy and powerful. It shows how much the #MeToo movement has changed American life. And it shows how far society still has to go.”
The Editorial Board couldn’t agree more. This has also taught us that it is important to believe women and survivors, and that coming together can enact change. Too often, we are told that hashtags and marches won’t accomplish anything, but as we’ve seen this week, they can. We are powerful when we unite to call out abuses of power.
In the Weinstein case, and in cases like those against Bill Cosby and Larry Nassar of USA Gymnastics, it literally took dozens and dozens of survivors to come forward for serious investigations to begin. It took persistence in the face of adversity by survivors and journalists.
In these cases, one voice should have been enough. The systematic silencing of women allows for people like Weinstein to serially abuse their power and privilege. It is especially important to support and empower people of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, as they are at a greater risk for experiencing sexual violence. It is time for lawmakers, institutions of power and law enforcement to better support and empower survivors. It is time for voters to extend this movement to the ballot box. Alleged rapists sit in the Oval Office and on the Supreme Court bench. Mike Bloomberg, a Democratic candidate for president, has been under pressure to release women from nondisclosure agreements that are preventing them from taking action against comments made by Bloomberg.
The Board supports all survivors of rape, sexual assault, harrassment or gender-based violence of any kind — whether or not they have come forward or reported. We believe you and we will always believe you, and we hope that this decision will serve as a catalyst to hold abusers accountable.
Written by: The Editorial Board