Over the past few weeks, many allegations of sexual assault have been made by both men and women. The most recent of these is an accusation of Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for the open Senate seat in Alabama. The woman accusing him came out saying that, “he initiated sexual contact when she was 14 years old and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney”. Leigh Corfman, the woman accusing Moore, along with her mother and three other women are saying Moore pursued them romantically when they were between the ages of 16 and 18, while Moore was in his early thirties.
Most of the responses coming from other political figures are saying that if the allegations against him are true, that Moore should drop out of the running for the seat. For example, Alyssa Farrah, Pence’s press secretary, said that our Vice President, “found the allegations in the story disturbing and believes, if true, this would disqualify anyone from serving in office”. This response seems acceptable on the surface until you zero in on the words, “if true”. Why are people so hesitant to accept this woman, and every woman’s, allegations against such powerful male figures? People are so quick to think that women are coming forward with their stories now for their time in the spotlight. In reality, the reason for their timing is simple: “often it takes one loud voice to make it possible for others to speak up”.
The bigger issue at hand here, is the fact that people are not believing the stories of the many women who have come forward with sexual assault allegations. Often, coming forward is looked down upon and victims face intense scrutiny for speaking the truth about scarring events from their past. This is why the stories don’t usually break the surface of the media until much later, after the assault has already taken place. Nina Bahadur, writer for SELF magazine, explains how women who have been through that kind of trauma, “face intimidation, having to relive traumatic experiences, the unlikelihood of justice, and ridicule from the public, who may call them liars or gold diggers or worse,” in a piece on the women who have come forward bearing sexual allegations.
This was true until the fairly recent allegation made against Harvey Weinstein. Ashley Judd, American actress and political activist, opened up to the media saying that she was invited up to Weinstein’s hotel room for what she expected to be a breakfast business meeting, but instead, “he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower”. Since this first story came out, many other women have stepped out and shared similar stories of sexual assault advances made by Weinstein. This opened a floodgate as women became confident in sharing their own experiences. These women are not, “riding a wave for 15 minutes of fame,” rather, they are emboldened by the example set by other women sharing their stories, making them feel safer about coming forward.
So far, since the accusation against Harvey Weinstein came out, twenty five other known men have been openly accused of sexual assault or misconduct. I want to reiterate that these are the known names. There are so many cases of sexual assault happening right under our noses that we don’t hear about because it doesn’t make as good a news story. However, the recent change in the public attitudes towards sexual assault is extremely promising. Women are empowering each other and standing together to share their stories and create a cause for change in America. Don’t let their efforts go to waste.
Kaitlyn Pierce is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.