It’s On Us: Weinstein and Sexual Assult

Dean Sanchez

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Recently, the whole world has been aghast at the actions of Harvey Weinstein, and countless women have spoken out to shed light on their own experiences of sexual harassment and abuse.

And it really is awful. As a man, I couldn’t imagine how those women must’ve felt when coaxed into a nightmare-ish sexual situation by the grotesque movie producer. Being asked to perform sexual acts with another woman in front of Weinstein, or simply being pushed first into a hotel room and asked to lay down on his bed. But what was most surprising wasn’t the decades of sexual scandals. It was the fact that the accusers were simply told that sneaking into their hotel room and masturbating in front of them while they slept was “Just Harvey.”

But Harvey Weinstein doesn’t just represent what’s wrong with Hollywood, he represents a systemic problem with men in modern society. A man can abuse his position of power over a young woman and some people simply brush it off because “he’s sorry” or “he’s deeply troubled”. A real man wouldn’t stoop that low, and prey on the innocent and powerless.

And men have to do better.

And no, the hashtag #IHearYou isn’t enough. #HowIWillChange is a step in the right direction, but you have to follow through with those words. Men have reevaluate the way they treat women.

Ever since we were little boys, we’ve had certain “masculine” traits indoctrinated into our lives. “Man up”, “Be a man”, “Act like a man”, “Talk like a man”. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those phrases; it’s the way we as a society define a man.

But first, it starts with examining what it “means to be a man”. A man isn’t defined by a specific set of characteristics. And you don’t become a man the day you’re born, or your 18th birthday. A man knows himself and his strengths, and knows violence isn’t always a solution to suppressed emotions. He’s in touch with his emotions and isn’t afraid to cry if he hears Sarah McLachlan in a abused animals commercial. A man puts other’s needs before his, and is willing to make sacrifices that might put his own pursuits in the rear-view mirror. A man is honest and isn’t afraid of speaking out against injustices they see.

If we as a society are to do anything to ensure more young women don’t fall victim to sexual assault or harassment, men must do their part to raise awareness and examine what it means to be a man. It’s on us.

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