Why Having Sexual Offenders As Public Figures Is Dangerous
Harrasser-glorification is the new victim-blaming.
Welcome to patriarchy and rape culture, it’s a great place for sexual offenders, with so many career options. You can become a model, a movie director or, a president of the United States if you wish.
Not one but several (in the case of president-elect Biden) and multiple (in the case of current president Trump) women have alleged both men with a physical violation, inappropriate touching, or sexual assault. While there is a long legal process from an allegation to a verdict, the only worse thing that can happen to traumatized victims other than being silenced, gaslighted, or undermined, is to have the (alleged) offenders glorified and thus, normalized/justified.
A few days ago, Poland’s Next Top Model finalist turned out to have a record of a sexual, non-consensual encounter with an underage woman. Although he’s been removed from the finale already, the amount of celebrities and fans defending him with a cliché 'everyone deserves a second chance' (and no mention of the victim who was 15 at the time), proves the point. Sexual offenders, precisely male sexual offenders, are allowed to shine in public, while the victims are being ignored and left to suffer in silence.
It’s true, everyone deserves a second chance, including Trump, Biden and Roman Polanski (‘Chinatown,’ ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘The Ninth Gate’), a famous director, only recently expelled from both French and American Film Academy, due to the rape charge of a 13-year-old girl. But second chance doesn’t equal a public career, either in showbiz or politics.
Having such people as public figures is wrong, immoral, and dangerous. It glorifies, promotes, and normalizes sexual assault, while the victims need years to prove the assault. Looking at such figures doesn’t encourage them to reach out for help and speak up. Quite the opposite, it silences them and deepens their trauma. At the end of the day, people just like their harassers are doing fine, making movies and running political campaigns, while they suffer in silence. The message is pretty clear.
In 2020, patriarchy and rape culture are living their best lives and we’re not gonna eradicate them in a day. But if you wanna do your bit, remember about appropriate reactions when hearing a sexual assault report, either personally or online. Contrary to the message the world is sending, it’s not about the harasser but about the victim, so check with them first. ‘You are not alone,’ ‘It’s not your fault’, or ‘I believe you,’ might sound like they mean nothing but sometimes, they mean everything and beyond.