Fighting fire with fire? Our victim blaming culture needs serious redress.

by Hannah Newberry

This year has truly been the one for engaging the public in the latest scoops of celebrity sexual assault and harassment. Thankfully, the benefits of addressing this topic are vast in number. We have had our favourite movies and Netflix originals thwarted by the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, and despite legitimate punishments being few and far between, there is no denying that the scandals will be a knife in the back of these men for the rest of their careers.  Well known celebrities reject opportunities to work under Weinstein’s guidance in fear of becoming another series of court litigations, and House of Cards prevails with its much-loved political pandemonium, with Robin Wright dominating the new leading role.

Unfortunately, the multiple uproars that Gair Rhydd has already written about have failed to eradicate the way Hollywood treats its stars. Engaging in discussion about sexual obscenities always has its drawbacks, but the way the victims are treated has not changed. You may have seen this week that Terry Crews – renowned for being our favourite father figure in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and an all-round badass black guy, came forward regarding his experience with sexual assault in Hollywood.

“It encourages people to understand that a victim could be anybody.”

Crews pushed for further protection of survivors, and dictated that ‘millions’ like him exist all around the world. Is it enough to say that the progression of the #MeToo movement and the Twitter publicity has created a cause for celebration thanks to his brave confession? Undoubtedly helpful in that it encourages people to understand that a victim could be anybody, some of the darker social media stigmas argue against this, where there are believers that still endorse Terry being partly to blame.

50 Cent took centre stage in his public Instagram outburst, using his platform to express that Crews should have ‘fought’ his way out of the situation (in the middle of a public party before his wife). This is only a small exemplar that toxic masculinity holds Crews accountable. He fails to fulfil the idea that ‘looking like a victim’ is what caused the assault, so instead is encouraged to act like the stereotype of an angry, black man. Either way, he is expected to mitigate the situation himself, and the pure reason why these assaults are perpetuated is because of the definitive focus on how incidences are responded to. Being a woman, attractive or flirtatious is the most perceived viewpoint of what a victim ‘looks’ like, and it’s a shame that challenging a prominent gender dynamic leaves an open question of, ‘why didn’t he fight back?’

Terry Crews has successfully helped in dismantling the notion that strong men are untouchable when it comes to sexual indiscretions. His overt masculinity was not enough to stop an attacker, so surely refraining from getting drunk and watching what you wear won’t deter anybody either. A strange facet of the social media outcry, but with no real shock element, is that the male responses mostly deflect from the actual problem. While social media anecdotes of female sufferers are all too quickly met with ‘men get raped too’, these people have suddenly disappeared into the background and fail to offer sufficient empathy or resolutions. Will there ever be an incident serious enough to challenge the integral part of a person that rejects the attacker’s absolute responsibility, inevitably and without dispute?

If we keep our fingers crossed, the gradual deviation in the image of your every-day victim may be exactly what Hollywood needs to flush out its abusers and start again on a zero-tolerance platform. The more people that are outed, the more movies that are boycotted, and the more media that’s reported, we can slowly embrace a reality where ‘rape is[n’t] part of the job description’.