Opinion: Have abuse allegations reached tipping point?

Last month numerous actresses came forward to accuse Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual assault and the world was left in shock.

However, since then a sort of snowball effect has taken place in which new allegations of abuse and misogyny seem to be surfacing daily.

This begs the question as to why these allegations are coming forth now? Has this finally sparked a wakeup call to the fact that, in 2017, men in positions of power are still manipulating that power to fuel their sexual desires.

Shortly after the Weinstein scandal came the allegations against Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, Jared O’Mara.

Although not as serious as the allegations against Weinstein, it was revealed that he had written a series of offensive internet posts, one of which expressed his wish for an orgy with four members of Girls Aloud. It is important to remember that these vile, sexist and misogynistic comments were made by a man employed to sit on the Women and Equalities Select Committee.

How can it be that a man with such degrading opinions of women can be seen fit to represent them in parliament? O’Mara has since issued an apology in which he said, “I made the comments as a young man, at a particularly difficult time in my life, but that is no excuse.” – although it certainly does sound like he’s trying to make one.

But it doesn’t stop there, this isn’t just one isolated case of misogyny regarding an individual MP. There is an issue of internalised misogyny which has paved a way for despicable acts against women, such as the alleged rape of young Labour activist, Bex Bailey.

She recently told the BBC, “I told a senior member of staff … it was suggested to me that I not report it. I was told that if I did it might damage me and that might be their genuine view. It might be that that was the case, in which case that shows that we have a serious problem in politics with this issue anyway.”

Bex Bailey’s case reveals the sobering truth that there is a widespread and extremely serious issue within our political system as those in power, who are supposed to protect and represent us, instead chose to silence a young woman, in turn protecting an alleged rapist.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday night, the Labour Young Women group said: “Unfortunately, we fully expect this will not be an isolated incident”, and they’re probably right.

The hashtag #metoo which circulated on social media last week proves how common sexual assault has become. But no matter how regularly these instances of misogyny and sexual assault occur we mustn’t let their frequency diminish their severity, we can’t afford to let ourselves simply brush these instances off as commonplace.

If we want to see change, we must remain as outraged by each new allegation as we were by the last.

Written by Holly Harper

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