A Society Swept Up in Sexual Harassment

Countless allegations and their impacts

By: Gillian McMahon &
Genavieve Ogren

Producer, Harvey Weinstein. Actor, Kevin Spacey. Fox News Host, Bill O’Reilly. Actor, Ben Affleck. Comedian, Louis C.K. and even the President of the United States, Donald Trump. The list of recently accused sexual harassers goes on forever and is growing daily. With a commander in chief in denial of allegations against him, the president appears to display the notion that sexual harassment is socially acceptable. Other high power celebrities who have committed these heinous acts, also set a negative example.
With big names in the media coming forward daily with untold stories of sexual assault and harassment, exposure is at an all time high. Sexual harassment has now factored into the lives of high school students.
Situationally, there can be two ends of the spectrum: either perpetrators do not know what sexual harassment is, or they know what they’re doing. In both cases, they continually act in an inappropriate manner.
“When boys ask girls for nudes, they get upset when they say no and harass them until they send something…If the girl doesn’t, the boy ends up being really hurtful towards them,” said junior Saiyoen Pathman.
The summarized definition of sexual harassment from the student handbook is as follows: “Derogatory comments, slurs, jokes, assault, touching, impeding or blocking movement, and gestures. Continue to express sexual interest after being informed the interest is unwelcome. Inappropriate attention of sexual nature from peer(s).”
According to a survey conducted on Twitter, 37 percent of ELHS female students and 15 percent of ELHS male students polled have seen or experienced sexual harassment.
Simply put, “sexual harassment isn’t a bragging matter,” said sophomore Madison Wood.
Wood explained that sexual harassment has become common just like catcalls, whistling, and unwanted touchings that occur.
The Twitter hashtag, “#MeToo” has been used more than 1.7 million times according to CBS News. Like the Women’s March on Washington, the hashtag has become a source of unity for women to share their experiences.
Approximately 70 women have come forward in recent months to corroborate allegations of sexual harassment against Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Actress Ashley Judd was one of the first to accuse Weinstein. Judd was asked by Weinstein numerous times for sexual favors. She said no, but he continued to push.
Actress Cara Delevingne spoke out about her experience with Weinstein in an Instagram post in October.
“I was so hesitant about speaking out. I felt guilty, as if I did something wrong,” said  Delevingne.
Unlike other accused sexual harassers, Weinstein has addressed his actions. He acknowledges coming of age in a different time where actions did not have the same consequences as they do today.
President Donald Trump has also been accused of sexual harassment. There have been approximately 17 accounts.
“Grab ‘em by the p****. You can do anything,” said Trump in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape released last October. Trump denies all accusations and dismissed the comment as locker room banter.
In the past, many women have experienced feelings of uncertainty in speaking up. However, males are affected as well. The sexual harassment cases regarding Kevin Spacey include boys aged 14 and 17, director Tony Montana, and members from the cast of House of Cards.
As the citizens of East Lyme, people are rising to prevent sexual harassment from becoming the norm in the community as it has in Hollywood. For example, implementing a new Freshmen Academy curriculum that closely aligns with the definition of sexual harassment and what is deemed as appropriate behavior.
Sexual harassment has undoubtedly become a large issue in modern society but the countless celebrities who have come forward have inspired others to speak up.

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