By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Since The New York Times published allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, multiple men in entertainment, media and politics in the U.S. and beyond have faced allegations ranging from inappropriate behavior to forced sexual misconduct to rape. To be sure, prominent men have faced sexual misconduct claims before. But the accusations against Weinstein have opened a floodgate, sparked an international conversation and put new pressure on companies, industries, and political leaders to respond.
The growing list of those accused reads like a Who’s Who:
• Producer Harvey Weinstein
• Celebrity chef John Besh
• Comedian Louis C.K
• Film Director Oliver Stone
• Actor Ben Affleck
• Actor Charlie Sheen
• Actor Richard Dreyfuss
• Actor Dustin Hoffman
• Actor Jeremy Piven
• Actor Steven Seagal
• Actor Kevin Spacey
• Actor Jeffrey Tambor
• Actor George Takei
• Journalist Mark Halperin
• NPR news chief Michael Oreskes
• Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner
• U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)
• Former President George H.W. Bush
• Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel
• Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover
Conspicuously absent from this abbreviated list of alleged offenders are Donald Trump and Roy Moore, the Alabama ultra-conservative judge running for the U.S. Senate. In the case of Trump, sixteen women have come forward alleging that he had been sexually inappropriate with them. And, Trump was caught on tape boasting about his proclivity for grabbing women’s sexual body parts. Trump claims that these allegations are completely false and that he planned to sue his accusers. Needless to say, the litigious Trump has NOT saw fit to file suit against these women, as he had threatened.
Roy Moore is an even greater sleaze, if that’s possible. His sexual modus operandi was preying upon the innocent – underage girls in their teens. To date, eight women have accused Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, including an accuser who was only 14-years-old when Moore (an adult man of 32) took sexual advantage of her. Taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, Moore claims the allegations are merely fabrications of the liberal media bent on sabotaging his senate campaign. Alabama’s Christian conservatives, Moore’s base, have rallied around their candidate and are totally dismissive of Moore’s accusers.
It’s truly a sad commentary. Now that women have finally found their voice and are speaking out about their sexual exploitation, these assertions are often undercut by one striking question, why now?
If women occupied more positions of authority and power in our society, then perhaps this ongoing culture of sexual mistreatment wouldn’t exist, and certainly not to the same extent. It takes enormous courage for a female subordinate to confront her superior for sexual indiscretions, which in many instances may take years to do so. The better question is: Why not now?