Sexual abuse and harassment remain prevalent in contemporary society and have a significant influence on the lives of many people. For the most part, these issues affect women, but men may also suffer from them. One of the key problems that emerge in association with sexual harassment and abuse is that the victims are often silenced. However, the #MeToo movement helped to bring awareness to the issue. The story first began when the New York Times published an article about sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Hollywood producer (Prasad, 2018). In support of these allegations, many famous women shared their experiences, which prompted the start of the #MeToo movement. This movement was focused on victims of sexual abuse sharing their stories after months or even years of silence. The topic soon became trending on major social media platforms, thus bringing awareness to issues of sexual harassment and abuse.
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In this example, the deviant behavior brought to light by a news article was sexual harassment and sexual assault. These terms include rape, unwanted sexual comments, coercion into sex, and related behaviors. On October 15, 2017, a news article appeared in the New York Times, which shared the news of Weinstein’s secret settlements with women who reported sexual harassment or abuse from him. It seems that the history of those settlements spanned for over three decades, and Weinstein’s deviant behavior was largely ignored by other persons in Hollywood (Prasad, 2018). Therefore, the first group who witnessed the behavior was mixed in terms of demographics but included people working in Hollywood with Harvey Weinstein. This group did not react to his actions in any way, thus helping him to hide the allegations and settlements for over three decades. At that time, the only people who attempted to control his behavior were women who were assaulted, and their efforts did not work because of the settlements.
However, the situation changed dramatically when Weinstein’s deviant behavior was brought to light by the New York Times article. In this case, the witnesses were primarily American adults aged between 20 and 50, which is a huge demographic group. Within a week, the news also spread all over the globe, thus expanding this population even further. This time, the reactions to Weinstein’s behavior were different. First of all, the news inspired other women he harassed or assaulted share their stories, thus contributing to the scandal surrounding the allegations against Weinstein. Secondly, the behavior was met with critical responses from the public. In particular, women who have experienced sexual harassment or assault, particularly in workplace settings, shamed Weinstein while also breaking the silence about their experiences.
There were also attempts to control the said deviant behavior from both groups. On the one hand, the increased number of allegations against Weinstein led to his arrest in May 2018 on the charges of rape and sexual harassment. On the other hand, the social media campaign also contributed to the fight against sexual harassment by raising awareness about how victims are silenced, prompting more victims to come forward, and prompting the police and the justice system in the United States to take sexual assault allegations against influential persons more seriously.
Overall, the #MeToo movement brought to light the global issues of sexual harassment and abuse. Although his deviant behavior has been accepted in the industry for over 30 years, the movement led to his arrest and caused many other persons in Hollywood to condemn him, which ended his career. By giving victims a platform to share their experiences, the movement helped to combat the silencing of victims by those in power, thus shifting the social dynamics that had been in place for decades. Trusting victims and encouraging them to come forward is thus a significant step towards resolving the issues of sexual harassment and abuse on a global level.
Prasad, V. (2018). If anyone is listening,# MeToo: Breaking the culture of silence around sexual abuse through regulating non-disclosure agreements and secret settlements. Boston College Law Review, 59(7), 2507-2549.