Spike in Sexual Harassment Claims: What it Means for Society

By Victoria Robertson on April 26, 2017

Photo Via: http://www.mightynurse.com

It feels as if lately the news is plagued with claims of sexual harassment, from FOX to Hollywood and everywhere in between. Disturbing, heartbreaking, and disgusting though this might be, this is a positive thing for society as a whole.

I know, that sounds crazy, but it’s true.

In recent history, sexual harassment claims have been swept under the rug, and in part, they still are, though their amplification is changing this as well.

Can you think of a time before where sexual harassment claims made such high profile news? There haven’t been many cases. Sure, there have been issues of scandal with the likes of Bill Clinton, JFK, Tiger Woods (that list could go on far too long), but in terms of true, legitimate claims of sexual harassment, there haven’t been many.

Not until then presidential candidate Donald Trump stirred up some controversy when tapes were released from his past, in which he made derogatory and disturbing comments regarding his actions towards women.

And he went on to become the president of the United States.

Billy Bush, the other party present during this controversial tape, received a whirlwind of backlash costing him professionally, while a presidential candidate went on to win the election.

As disturbing and utterly wrong as this was, it has done some good, as it has turned on a light in similar cases, and we’ve decided almost unanimously that this is no longer something we’re going to stand for as a country.

And while it’s slow going, progress is definitely being made.

Think of the most recent reports surrounding FOX, where Bill O’Reilly and many others have lost their jobs due to claims made by the women they worked with. Sure, they received massive payouts from FOX, but at least something was done.

I’m not saying it was enough, but it was something — and that’s a start.

And don’t get me wrong, we have miles and miles and miles left to go. But now, advocates against sexual harassment are popping up left and right, male and female victims are gaining the courage necessary to stand up against such harassment, and the media is plastering these cases front page so they aren’t going unnoticed.

Even celebrities are being held to a higher scrutiny, if not legally or professionally, then by their colleagues.

Think of the recent claims against Casey Affleck — his accusers settled out of court and he went on to win an Academy Award for his performance that year, but his colleagues weren’t unanimously in support of his win. Brie Larson, an active advocate for victims of such crimes, silently protested his win, as did some other faces in the theater and across the country that night, and while that may not feel like enough (because it isn’t), again, it’s a start.

The more people that advocate for victims, the stronger they will become, and the more such cases will be forced into the light to bring those responsible to justice.

Again, this is not going to be an overnight fix — it’s going to take work. It’ll take protests, rallies, legislation, and dedication.

The sad truth is, it’ll likely get worse before it gets better, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel; dim as it may be right now, it’s shining brightly at the other end, and it’s only a matter of time before we reach it.

So don’t let the news discourage you. Let it enrage you. Let it show you everything you don’t want this country to be. Let it drive you to force change, to stand up for those unable or too scared to stand up for themselves, to demonstrate exactly what’s wrong with our country now, and where that change needs to be implemented.

We’re far too overwhelmed with sad news every day. Another shooting in a big city, another missing child, another bomb threat across the world – it’s time to start making changes where we can.

It’s so easy to blame the victims, to judge them for not speaking up sooner, to blame our justice system for not taking notice, to blame our Congress for not getting ahead of such issues, but the truth is, the more you place blame on those around you, the less likely the problem is going to be resolved.

Sure, we’re just college students, but that isn’t to say we can’t do anything because we can.

Look at the Women’s March and the more recent March for Science — it’s possible to make moves effectively, non-violently and with purpose. And if we continue to act in that regard, we’ll be seeing the changes we fight for in the near future.

So again, we might not be where we’d like to be at this point in time, but we’re making advances that look promising. So keep striving for better!

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