The problem is clear: power and fear of it
A few weeks ago, the entertainment industry formed a special panel, the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. If you have to ask why, you have not been paying attention during the past six months or so.
Chaired by law professor Anita Hill, the organization’s goal is to stamp out sexual harassment and assault in the movie, music and television industries.
“It’s time to end the culture of silence,” Hill said of the commission’s agenda.
Perhaps the panel can come up with some concrete ideas to prevent harassment and assault in the industry. If so, we wish it much success. But the problem is not complicated.
Movie producer Harvey Weinstein could serve as poster predator for the commission. For years, he got away with pressuring women for sexual favors and, on occasion, using force to get what he wanted.
How did he get away with it? He was extremely powerful in the entertainment industry. No one wanted to cross him.
The same can be said for sexual misbehavior elsewhere. Until and unless standing up for what is right is more important than toadying to the powerful, outrageous misbehavior will continue.
Let us hope 2018 takes the story into the second phase it needs to enter — holding accountable those who closed their eyes to misdeeds by powerful politicians, entertainers, media leaders, academics and others.
Among the most disturbing situations that have come to light is that involving Dr. Larry Nassar, who worked with members of the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team for years. He sexually abused some. Earlier this month, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison for possessing child pornography.
One of his victims, Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, is suing USA Gymnastics. She alleges that in 2016, she and the organization settled a claim she had filed for sexual abuse by Nassar. She was required to keep quiet about it, Maroney says.
Why did USA Gymnastics take such action, which smells like a cover-up? The new year is a good time to ask that question — and the same of many others who shielded predators.