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Why the Friends of Sexual Predators Need to Be Held Just as Accountable

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

In just the latest of a string of high profile sexual assault allegations to appear in the entertainment industry, Seth Rogen is being called out for enabling James Franco of abuse by refusing to hold him accountable for his actions. Actor Charlyne Yi outlines a disturbing situation on the set of the 2017 movie “The Disaster Artist,” which Rogen produced, where she accused Franco of being a sexual predator and rather than supporting her and taking Franco to task, she was bribed to take a bigger role in the movie to silence her. Rogen has gone on to proclaim his support of feminism while simultaneously propping up the actor and even poking fun at the allegations on SNL in a skit normalizing the targeting of underage girls in a sexualized way.

 Normally I don’t view things in the world as binary, meaning black and white or good and bad, but where violence against women and children are concerned, there’s no grey area. The fact that so many men absolve themselves of any complicity in a system of patriarchy and misogyny that normalizes violence against women is not just problematic, but down right morally reprehensible. It is particularly troublesome where the men inhabit positions of power within an industry that holds so much sway in how people behave in ordinary life. 

With celebrity comes responsibility and with that responsibility comes a platform that places the onus on you to do better, to be better. In an era post #MeToo where survivors of sexualized violence finally feel as though they have an opportunity to speak their truths, not taking them seriously and continuing to prop up offenders or dismissing their actions as “locker room talk” is akin to being a co-conspirator.

Gaslighting survivors, disbelieving them, trying to silence them or otherwise discounting their stories/allegations is a form of re-traumatization. It ultimately implies to them that they don’t matter, that they have no value, that they are worthless. All of this simply reinforces the shame and self recrimination that survivors already feel from having been sexually victimized.

 So often, whether it be individuals like Bill Cosby, Woody Allen or Harvey Weinstein, fear of retaliation or a sense of misplaced loyalty clouds the sound judgment of individuals who have held these abusers in high esteem. It’s as if the idealized image of the abusers somehow refutes the lived experiences of those who have been harmed by them. Let me be clear, no amount of talent or status gives anyone a Golden ticket to sexually violate another human being. Full stop.

Allyship isn’t about empty words uttered during publicity events where nothing is at stake. Until we as a society begin to demand that other men hold their fellow brothers to a higher standard and they actually begin to do so, very little will change in the status quo. We will continue living in a society that pretends to be “woke” about women’s rights and about sexual violence without actually creating the societal change necessary to make such behavior anathema in socially acceptable circles. The onus for change cannot be on survivors who are willing to tell their stories, it must come from within the patriarchy and in particular from other men who recognize that the way we have been operating is not acceptable. They need to speak up, stand up and human up.

Lead image via ET Canada’s YouTube channel.

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