2017: The Year That Sexual Harassment Came Out of the Shadows

Hurelayn Abdu, Editor- In - Chief

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What do Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Al Franken and Roy Moore have in common? They’re all powerful men who have been recently accused of various forms of sexual harassment and assault.
Harassment in the workplace has long been a taboo topic for society as powerful men in areas ranging from politics to business to entertainment have been able to act with impunity or been able to bury incidents beneath payments that amount to nothing more than hush-money. However, the time has come for many of these men – and the names keep coming – to finally face the truth and suffer the shame, embarrassment, and, in some cases, prosecution for their actions.

Over the past several months there has been an outpouring of victims coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault by their bosses, peers, and acquaintances. Whether it be powerful politicians such as Franken, a Democratic Senator from Minnesota, Moore, an Alabama Republican candidate for Congress, or big names in the entertainment business such as Weinstein, Lauer, or actor Kevin Spacey, no one, it seems, is safe from identification.

Weinstein, a Hollywood executive and one of the industry’s leading producers, was the first powerful man in this recent development to be publicly accused of sexual harassment and assault. In all, more than sixty women have come forward with allegations against him.
Following Weinstein, came allegations against other powerful men. First came Moore and then Franken. After these two politicians came revered television host Charlie Rose, and the head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, John Lasseter. And, just when it seemed the accusations had peaked, came the news that radio personality Garrison Keillor and Lauer, the host of the Today show had, apparently, victimized others.

These allegations captured the attention of many Americans, even President Trump, no stranger to sexual harassment scandals himself. In fact, Trump has chimed in on the issue many times by expressing his support for Moore’s candidacy, including an early-morning tweet on December 4th in which he stated, “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama.”
Following the accusations against Weinstein came an outpouring of stories from both women and men detailing their own sexual harassment and assault experiences. On Twitter, actress and activist Alyssa Milano began a movement when she tweeted, “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
She continued, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Her tweet quickly spread and even gained the attention of celebrities such as Terry Crews and Aly Raisman, who tweeted out their own stories of sexual assault along with the hashtag #meToo.
When asked if they have been surprised by the volume of women coming forward with stories of sexual assault and harassment, both female staff and students at Paint Branch seem to have similar responses. Junior Dolly Yared and Paint Branch Science teacher Mrs. Brisco both replied with a strong “no.” Mrs. Briscoe also stated that she feels “people now feel safe sharing what has happened to them. In the past, people were afraid that no one would believe them or that they would be blamed.”
As for whether or not they feel that these allegations will impact men’s behavior in the future, Dolly responded, “I think they will start to be more responsible for their actions.”
Mrs. Briscoe expressed, “ I hope so. I think it has made some impact in how people behave and also make people think before they make decisions.”

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2017: The Year That Sexual Harassment Came Out of the Shadows