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Weinstein’s legacy: the perpetuated myths surrounding sexual assault?

Written by Comment

Earlier this month Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, made a shocking statement when asked if she had ever been sexually assaulted; Rotunno stated she had never been assaulted as she would “never put herself in that position.”

What we fail to realise, in our mass consumption of Weinstein’s trial, is the way in which it has reinforced the myths that our society possess around victims of sexual violence

Weinstein was first charged in May 2018 with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct, by the New York Police. Since then, his trial has rarely left the public eye, with a simple Google search resulting in hundreds of articles focused on this topic. What we fail to realise, in our mass consumption of Weinstein’s trial, is the way in which it has reinforced the myths that our society possess around victims of sexual violence.

The hashtag #whyIdidn’treport has worked to emphasise how there is no typical victim

The hashtag #whyIdidn’treport has worked to emphasise how there is no typical victim. The movement has shared stories of women, men, and children, sometimes alongside photos of the clothes that they were wearing at the time. The hashtag works to undermine the stereotypes and myths that surround victims of sexual abuse; that they were somehow responsible or accountable, or that it could have been prevented. However, despite its profound influence we are still seeing time and time again, a cycle of disbelief towards sexual assault victims.

Rotunno’s ignorant comments, which have been thrust into the public eye due to the trial, highlight how we still hold preconceptions of what a sexual assault victim should look like, while also holding strict judgments of how they should react and respond to such trauma; victims reacting outside of our expected response being accused of false reporting.

Rotunno’s ignorant comments highlight how we still hold preconceptions of what a sexual assault victim should look like

Weinstein’s trial, what with its plethora of celebrities and high-status individuals involved and commenting on it, has perpetuated the myths surrounding sexual assault victims through the constant reinforcement of such misconceptions by high profile individuals, Rotunno being one. The general public is unable to escape the constant bombardment of victim stereotypes, and thus, the cycle of disbelief or suspicion towards a victim’s story remains unbroken. As a result, it becomes very difficult for the trial’s consumers to break away from the myths surrounding sexual assault survivor’s that they are constantly being told to believe, hindering our progress of the treatment and response to such a vital issue.

Last modified: 18th February 2020

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