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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

Professor Comments on National Sexual Misconduct

Written by: Communicator StaffDecember 14, 2017

By: Ben Bailey

Sexual misconduct scandals in Hollywood and Washington D.C. have made headlines over the past two months.

The New York Times published a story on Oct. 5 detailing numerous accusations of sexual misconduct against film producer and executive Harvey Weinstein.

Among the accusers were several top name celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara Delevingne.

Since the New York Times’ story, numerous other accusations of sexual misconduct have been raised against other top Hollywood figures as well as elected officials in Washington D.C.

Celebrities such as actor Kevin Spacey, news anchor Matt Lauer and comedian Louis C.K,. among many others, have all been accused of sexual misconduct.

In Washington, Senators Roy Moore (R,) Al Franken (D,) and House Representative John Conyers (D) have also been accused of some form of sexual misconduct.

Conyers announced in a Dec 5 radio interview on “The Mildred Gaddis Show” that he would be retiring immediately.

Franken also announced in a speech on the senate floor that he would be retiring as a result of the allegations.

Conyers did not indicate that the accusations of sexual assault played any role in his decision to retire. Instead, the 88-year-old cited health issues and endorsed his son to take his congressional seat.

While new stories and allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and Washington are being revealed at a near daily basis, IPFW Women’s Studies director Janet Badia explained why she believes now is the time victims of sexual misconduct are coming forward.

“There are a lot of reasons why women do not come forward. A lot of it has to do with the question of whether or not they will be believed,” Badia said.

Badia also said that the current news attention along with the American political climate has provided victims of sexual misconduct with an opportunity to share their experiences without fear.

“Certainly the social media movement of #metoo has put the issue in the forefront of the conversation. It’s also the way social media has allowed people to mobilize and form communities,” Badia said.

While stories and allegations of sexual misconduct are dominating news cycles today, it is unclear if news outlets will continue to focus on these stories, or shift to covering other new topics as they arise.

“If we take a lesson from history, you would conclude that it will die down again. There is a danger that history will repeat itself and we will quickly forget about this,” Badia said.

However, Badia expressed that she believes that this spout of allegations will likely have a larger and longer lasting impact on American society.

“My sense is that this is a different moment that we have had in the past. It’s the scale of it. It’s the every day new accusation, new consequence to a big name person… There’s a different attitude and a different conversation that we have now as opposed to before,” Badia said.

Badia also said that sexual misconduct allegations against key Hollywood figures are far from over.

“We’re just scraping the tip of the iceberg in Hollywood. I think that we will continue to find shocking revelations because these issues are so pervasive,” Badia said.

While Badia does believe that instances of sexual misconduct in Hollywood will continue to be reported frequently, she is less hopeful about government figures in Washington D.C.

“I’m less hopeful about Washington. In Hollywood you have a coalition of voices working to fix the problem. In Washington you don’t. It’s going to be harder to challenge the culture and the standard’s,” Badia said.

Badia also said that the accountability issue in Washington D.C. is more complicated because members of congress must frequently run for re-election as opposed to Hollywood figures who can be quickly terminated from positions.

Finally, while Badia did express more concerns with instances of sexual misconduct amongst political figures, she did indicate that this is a positive moment in history for women.

“This is a really empowering moment for women and hopefully we’ll see more of this going forward,”Badia said.