The #MeToo movement is giving victims of sexual harassment and assault a voice to expose their aggressors, even those who have seemed untouchable. These alleged aggressors have included Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, and Kevin Spacey.
However, as the movement has grown, some of these stories don’t seem fully legitimate, and the movement has even been called a witch hunt in recent weeks. This may be due to the complete trust we give to the accuser. Most accusations and stories are accepted as true even if the story lacks definitive proof or if the story is decades old.
Those accused in some of these stories seem immediately damned with no way to fight back or explain themselves, even if the stories are later found to be false or blown out of proportion, adding to this concern that some of these accusations may devolve into a sort of witch hunt, even though the movement is anything but that.
Recent sexual misconduct allegations targeted James Franco and Aziz Ansari, for example. Franco was accused by five women immediately following his win at this year’s Golden Globes. The women came forward calling him a hypocrite because he wore a “Times Up” pin to the ceremony. They called him out and accused him of various forms of inappropriate behaviors. Franco has denied the claims and said they are “not accurate.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, of the five accusers, four were students at Franco’s acting studio, and one said he was her mentor. The Washington Post reported that one of the women was in a romantic consensual relationship with Franco during the alleged “harassment.” During a situation where Franco allegedly pressured her to perform oral sex on him, the article reported that she claimed she couldn’t refuse because of the “power dynamic.” Despite this, the two carried on a romantic relationship until 2016.
Another student actress appeared in one of his films “The Long Home” that contained many nude and sex scenes. The Los Angeles Times reported that she said Franco added an orgy scene she felt to be unnecessary and that she felt many of the nude scenes in the film were not artistically justified, but she still willingly took part in them and received payment for acting in the movie. The Los Angeles Times reported that she also said he removed protective genital guards from women during scenes.
Cynthia Huffman, a casting director on “The Long Home,” in a statement to The Chicago Tribune said, “All actresses were aware of the nudity scenes ahead of time. I personally checked on all the actresses constantly to make sure they were ok and comfortable. I talked to them several times and told them if they were uncomfortable or did not like what was going on to come to me immediately and I would take care of it. I did not receive any complaints.”
The others reported negative experiences in his school saying he became angered when two of them were reluctant to removing their shirts for a nude scene. All of these accusations towards Franco were documented in an article published by The Washington Post on Jan.11, 2018.
Aziz Ansari was also accused of sexual harassment following an alleged bad date with a 23-year-old photographer in an article originally published by Babe. net. In the article, the woman’s account of the date was also related in detail. She admitted that she and Ansari engaged in multiple romantic and sexual acts following a dinner.
According to the Babe.net article, the woman said she found these acts to be uncomfortable and rushed but did not immediately express her feelings to him. During the events, Ansari kept allegedly pushing for intercourse until the woman finally spoke up.
According to her account, as published in Babe.net, the sexual acts continued for a time, until the two began to watch TV, and then the woman finally went home. The account said that the next morning Ansari texted her thanking her for the date, but the woman reportedly responded by expressing how uncomfortable she felt and reportedly said he ignored non-verbal cues.
Babe.net published an account of Ansair apologizing to her through text. Screenshots of these text messages were also published in the article. This date took place sometime in late 2017 following the first time they met. The original article of the complete account was published by Babe.net in January this year.
The accusations for both men were not brought to light until the two won at this year’s Golden Globes on Jan. 7. Speculation has pointed out that these accusations seem quite coincidental with the awards.
The argument could be made that both these situations seem to lack solid proof or warrant for sexual assault or harassment. Despite this, both men are being compared to and roped in with big name assaulters in Hollywood. It has affected their reputations and work.
The #MeToo movement continues to empower survivors of sexual assaults and harassment globally. Amidst this, however, some are asking audiences to consider that life is not as easy as it is sometimes made out to be. Nor is it black and white.
Perhaps society needs to take each situation case by case and objectively look at the facts surrounding them.
Concerns have been expressed that if every claim or accusation is taken as completely true, how can this movement be fully effective in exposing assaulters, without harming those innocent of assault and harassment allegations?