When allegations of Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct first started hitting mainstream news last month, there was a public outcry of shock and anger. While people were quick to call for an immediate change in the way Hollywood handles sexual assault, the real issue only became apparent after more producers came forward: Weinstein's actions were commonly known among actors, directors, and producers for a long time, and he was allowed to get away with it.

Casting couch scandals are nothing new in Hollywood

This isn't the first time there have been large sexual assault scandals surrounding a powerful man in the film industry.

The history of inappropriate sexual behavior behind the scenes is as old as Hollywood itself. Just yesterday, Molly Ringwald came forward with news of the constant sexual harassment she's faced for decades. This is not just an issue of people taking advantage of their power over others, nor is it an issue unique to the film industry. This is an issue with ingrained sexism, reinforced power dynamics, and a need for the US to maintain a narrative of perfection. it's a vicious cycle; powerful men take advantage of others, their peers cover it up, and the men are reinforced in the idea that their actions have no consequences.

What to do to help

The question becomes, why does that keep happening and how can we stop it?

Obviously, the sexual assault crisis is not something that can be solved overnight. While public attitude towards sexual assault has shifted towards more understanding over the past decades, there is still a majority of the population that believe women should take catcalls as compliments, or people exaggerate their own sexual assault stories for attention.

Even now, there is still a feeling of embarrassment that victims face when openly discussing these issues. We as a society need to de-stigmatize sexual assault and stop victim blaming and create more dialogues around how we can fix this problem.

Actresses speaking up about their own experiences helps people to realize the extent that sexual assault prevails throughout our society.

While many women (1 in 2) and men (1 in 5) experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, this is still seen as an unimportant or exaggerated issue. The recent #MeToo movement, aimed at letting victims talk about their experiences with sexual assault in a safe space, is a step in the right direction to creating awareness around a serious and prevalent issue. After all, the biggest step we can take is simply to talk.

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