In the age of social media, Hollywood personalities are making bounds in addressing sexual harassment
As the scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein continues to unfold, more actors are coming forward with their personal experiences of sexual abuse in the industry. Social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter are serving as platforms for those publishing their personal experiences, paving the way for a new outlook on sexual abuse in Hollywood and beyond.
Terry Crews posted a set of 16 tweets detailing his experience of being molested at a party last year. Model Cara Delevingne posted a picture with a long caption telling her story of being harassed by Weinstein. Rose McGowan took to Twitter to say that Weinstein raped her, and that the head of Amazon knew about it.
Incidents such as these have catapulted sexual abuse in the entertainment industry into public awareness. A large contribution to this trend has been the newfound ability of the victim to go public with allegations themselves, rather than having to go through police, lawyers, and media and potentially being censored by those mediums. The messages are out there, instantly, in the very stream-of-consciousness words that the victims poured out on their phones or laptops. Social media allows the victim to control the message they are releasing, and tell us about their experience in their own words, being as graphic or as implicit as they like. They do not have to deal with (as much) intimidation from the parties they are accusing, because the publication of these messages becomes instantaneous. Once it’s out there, it’s out there, and it gets picked up immediately by fans, media, and followers.
We live in one of the strangest times in history. Detractors may claim that social media is making us — and especially “millennials” — into zombies staring at our phones, but I think that social media grants us a privilege that no generation before us has ever had. We have the power to write our own stories. Rather than writing secret diaries with the possibility that they may be discovered and pulled from dust centuries into the future, we have the choice to publish our inner thoughts, our darkest secrets, our happiest and most horrible experiences, with the click of a button. For the first time in history, the voices of individuals and common people are being published, saved, and backed up on iCloud and Google Drive. It will change the way that history books are written, but for us in the now it means that our words may have the power to institute change. If an injustice occurs, we personally can address it on our own platforms in any way we see fit. Even in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, people all over the world are taking to Facebook and Twitter, detailing their personal experiences with sexual harassment with the hashtag “#MeToo”.
Those that have come forth as victims of Hollywood abuse are often not common people, but already individuals who hold a certain amount of power and influence in society. They understand this, and they know the implications that their self-published statements hold. While their bravery helps to work against a system of shame and silence that abusers in every sphere of life rely on, their statements directly address a power dynamic in Hollywood that often manifests in sexual abuse. They are telling Hollywood executives that they cannot necessarily count on intimidation and threats to ensure silence anymore. They are saying not that the tides are changing in Hollywood, but that they are changing the tides.