27 October 2017
More than 30 women had come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein on October 12th, and daily, new names and faces are added to the ranks of brave women frustrated with remaining quiet, marginalized victims. Unprecedented, all eyes are on Hollywood as these revelations stand to change the face of Tinseltown and America at large.
With the recent events unfolding involving Harvey Weinstein, with the onslaught of accusations being laid against a number of powerful figureheads in Hollywood and even powerful men in other organizations, the magnitude of sexual abuse and harassment is more prevalent to the public eye now than ever before.
More and more women are coming forth across the nation, revealing their horrid truths. And while some are attacking Weinstein, others are coming to his defense, even apologizing for his behavior, calling it–and the behavior of those like him–as merely “old school.”
Yet if this behavior is just “old school,” then that means at one point this behavior was accepted in society. Although progress has been made through the education of younger generations and the changing behavior of older generations, there are still steps ready to be taken in the effort to minimize harassment directed toward women.
Verbal harassment and crude behavior does not just include Hollywood actors. It is found in the workplace, on college campuses, at the local mall, and perhaps even in the hallways of Oswego East. A school-wide survey at Oswego East found that 60% of girls said they have been the target of harassment and 82% said they have been a witness to harassment.
The survey did not ask those polled for the location of the harassment.
Sadly, it isn’t uncommon to walk around the hallways of a high school and hear boys call out vulgarities, commenting on a girl’s figure, offering a remarkably crude and uninvited “invitation to a Friday night date.” It isn’t uncommon to see a woman walking down the street and to hear whistles from men while she tries her best to mind her own business. It isn’t uncommon to hear male co-workers talk about the value of a female co-worker in relation to her body mass index.
The saddest part, however, is it also isn’t uncommon to refrain from saying anything back. Men and women accept this behavior in parts. Some men may objectify a woman within the confines of their own conversation. A pervasive number of men and women may allow other men to harass a woman on the street, even if it goes against their morals. A few may rise up and take a stand for a woman who is not doing it herself, but, generally, there is no need for them to speak up, because at this particular time in our society, it is accepted.
This is not to suggest that every male walking Oswego East’s hallways is the target of this particular criticism. There are good young men out there, but there seems to be a tradition of accepting vulgar behavior from men. Some high school girls would perhaps even reluctantly admit that they would never respond in protest to verbal harassment but instead ignore it. Even ignoring it and saying nothing is a sign of complicity.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” That statement has never been more true in the past weeks.
To create a future where the “old-fashioned” way to treat women is with absolute, mutual respect, then it boils down to the vulgar behavior society allows boys to address women with.
Women and men need to speak up to those boys who believe it is acceptable to call down the street to a woman.
It is about setting a higher standard for men when it comes to the treatment of women.
Society knows that any man can refrain from assaulting a woman, and it is now time to show society that the normalization of crude behavior is something far below a man’s true integrity, because the majority of men possess these morals.
It’s simply sad that it takes the current headlines that we’re reading to remind ourselves of that.
While this editorial represents the opinion of the staff as a whole, it was written by Abby McDowell. Abby McDowell is an editor for Oswego East High School’s news magazine the HOWL