We must not become desensitized to sexual assault

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

Sexual assault is a term that so many of us are way too familiar with at this point. Headlines flashing across our screens are no longer shocking, but receive a shoulder shrug as a reaction. We say “Who now?” rather than “Oh my, no way!”

With all of these accusations coming out, especially against powerful men, we cannot accept some of these behaviors as common. We cannot keep shrugging our shoulders and taking sexual assault accusations as “just another one.” We need to hold these people just as accountable for inappropriate behavior, even if they’re famous.

Starting with sexual assault accusations against actor Harvey Weinstein Oct. 5, according to the New York Times, headline after headline has come out about another Hollywood star or government politician accused. According to the New York Times, 34 men have been accused of sexual misconduct, ranging from a risqué text to rape, after Weinstein. The most recent headline, Nov. 29, was NBC’s Matt Lauer, after an allegation of inappropriate sexual behavior with a subordinate, according to the New York Times. Some of the most famous to be accused in the past six weeks include Ed Westwick (actor), Louis C.K. (comedian) and Kevin Spacey (actor).

It’s not just Hollywood, as Alabama judge and politician Roy Moore and U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., have also attracted attention for accusations. Moore was accused of sexual misconduct with five teenagers and Franken was accused of sexual harassment of two women, including forcibly kissing and groping, according to the New York Times.

With all that is coming out, we musts not become desensitized to sexual assault. Our favorite actors and comedians and politicians have come out as abusers of their power. Although all the claims and accusations are for actions in the past, we must still hold these people accountable for their wrongful actions.

It’s absolutely awful that so many women and men have been wrongfully treated and abused by these actors and politicians, and we cannot allow this to continue. We must send a message that sexual assault is not something to gloss over. We should be as shocked and disgusted after the 30th story we read as we are over the first story we read.

Women are not doing anything wrong just because this sort of behavior has been happening for years. Women should not be blamed for the horrible actions by sick men who think sexual assault and sexual harassment is OK. We need to be taught from an early age that is is not OK to blow assault off like no big deal, and it is not OK to stay quiet and stand by assaulters. Speak up and speak out against assault and harassment because a change cannot start until someone gets the ball rolling.

After all these accusations, 34 according to the New York Times earlier, something should be done and a ball should certainly be rolling. We can create as many hashtags and heartbreaking videos as we want, but until the idea is clearly understood that this is not OK, nothing will happen.

Teach your friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters, children and peers that no means no, if you see something then say something and that the “gilded age” of sexual assault is over. This will happen no more. We will not become desensitized to something that still affects and hurts so many. Hold your friends and role models accountable because everyone deserves respect and everyone should be held to the same standard, famous or not.