There’s nothing like a fresh reminder that rape culture is alive and well, as it is perpetuated by celebrities and those giving them free passes for the horrendous crimes they commit. While there might be some good examples, they are few and far between.
The only somewhat positive response to sexual assault allegations comes in the form of Bill O’Reilly’s recent dismissal from Fox.
The so-called “King of Cable News” was involved in five sexual harassment lawsuits, equating to about $13 million. Recently, due to the controversy surrounding him, his television ratings spiked. But thanks to some fearless few at Fox, O’Reilly is finally an example of the way that sexual harassment from celebrities should be handled.
But just as this moment is important in showing how to handle these situations, it’s also important to note that it still took a dreadfully long time for this dismissal to come into fruition.
It’s no surprise that money can buy freedom, considering O’Reilly was one of a handful of individuals benefitting from hiding behind Hollywood by being labeled as a celebrity.
Actors like Casey Affleck, who won an Oscar this year while in the midst of sexual harassment allegations that resurfaced from 2010, continue to work without consequence for their actions. On top of him getting nominated and winning, sexual assault survivor, actress and advocate Brie Larson had to be the one to hand him the award.
Understandably, she did not clap for him when he won. Giving Affleck a prestigious award like that proves that no matter what happens, celebrities will be given special treatment.
It’s not only a slap in the face to Larson, but to society entirely as we give a standing ovation for a man who is being tried for a crime most people would be sent to jail for years for.
Celebrities are people and just as they are capable of committing heinous crimes, they should be treated with the same swift hand of justice everyone else does.
In the most infamous cases of Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby, punishments for horribly abusive sex crimes are nonexistent.
Even though the U.S. asked Polanski on April 3 to come back and resolve the crime, the keyword is that they want to “resolve” it. The director has been evading police for decades, and he’s a criminal for raping a 13-year-old girl.
None of these individuals are being pressed for what they did because the glitz and glamour of Hollywood veil them. No one is going to ostracize these people because they are part of the stitching of Hollywood itself.
Even though there are lists compiled of every woman who has accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment, none of that threw his presidential campaign off course.
What all of these individuals have in common is that they had enough money to buy silence.
Letting these individuals continue their lives sets a terrible example for how the law should treat allegations of sexual assault that do not involve celebrities. All of this is an eerie reminder of how no one is paying attention to the rape culture that actions like these perpetuate.
While it is brave and inspiring when individuals speak out against sexual assault, societal norms are the entire reason the public feels that it is brave instead of normal to feel comfortable reporting and talking publicly about it.
When victims of sexual assault come out about their trauma, it is common for people to question what they were wearing, whether or not they had been drinking, bring up their past to explain how they’re attention seeking and promiscuous—anything but blame the assaulter.
Trivializing a traumatic sex crime does nothing but leave a permanent stain on society.
Anyone that comes forward has to deal with the trauma of the incident again and again; the public needs to be comfortable with and susceptible to hearing what victims have to say. As of now, most people aren’t comfortable with talking about it or don’t take it seriously, therefore, less people come forward.
When people aren’t comfortable or taken seriously, getting money in return for silence seems like a win-win. But this type of thinking demonstrates the morbid complacency of American society.
It’s not as if indicting these celebrities will solve everything either, but it’s definitely the place to start since they are in the public eye and do hold influence over society—whether we like it or not.