Hollywood’s sexual assault problem

Just as news of Miramax co-founder and Hollywood personality Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations began to fade from the news cycle, another high-profile sexual assault case has emerged. This time, it’s Kevin Spacey.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Anthony Rapp, known for his role in Broadway musical Rent, alleged that “Spacey befriended Rapp while they both performed on Broadway shows, invited Rapp over to his apartment for a party and at the end of the night, picked Rapp up, placed him on his bed and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance.”

Rapp would have been 14 years old at the time, and Spacey would have been 26.

“My memory was that I thought, ‘Oh, everybody’s gone. Well, yeah, I should probably go home,’” Rapp said. “[Spacey] sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk. He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then he lays down on top of me.”

Since Rapp’s statement, “eight current and former employees of ‘House of Cards’ told CNN that Spacey had engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment,” according to The Washington Post.

Spacey’s statement in response is at best, a half-apology that excuses his behavior because of drunkenness, and a deflection away from situation by choosing to publicly come out in response.

“But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” wrote Spacey. “I choose now to live as a gay man.”

The Hollywood environment is mired by sexual harassment scandals — of men with authority abusing their status such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, Roman Polanski and more. As a public figure, Spacey owes it to the public and to his victims a sincere apology that owns his revolting behavior and doesn’t try to explain it away with drunken excuses.

Public figures, whether they like it or not, set standards for socially acceptable behavior. Kevin Spacey tarnishes the reputation of all LGBT people by connecting his sexual orientation to his sexual assault.

The stereotype that LGBT people are predators has been perpetuated for long enough. Gay celebrities such as the British political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, who condone pedophilia by saying that “pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody who is 13 years old and sexually mature, [and] relationships …. between younger boys and older men … can be hugely positive experiences,” continue to add fuel to arguments against gay rights, and Spacey’s response continues this trend.

The old slippery-slope argument that gay marriage could lead to bestiality or pedophilia doesn’t need to be revived by the distasteful way that Spacey conflated his past sexual assault with “choos[ing] to live as a gay man.” Coming out should never be used as a distraction tactic. Especially after making a mockery of coming out at the last Tony awards by putting on a dress, pretending to be Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard and dramatically belting “I’m coming out … No, wait, no.” Spacey is especially tone-deaf with his statement. He didn’t stand up for the LGBT community then, and did not respect the community until he wanted to use it as cover for the backlash he is receiving.

The trend of sexual harassment in Hollywood needs to be eradicated. Celebrities need to start speaking out against this issue— not cover for the accused the same way Lindsay Lohan and Woody Allen defended Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of inappropriate behavior by over 40 women, according to CNN.

Companies and agencies should also take a stand against sexual assault and refuse to work with assaulters. Netflix announced “it is cutting ties with the actor [and] … will not be involved with any production of ‘House of Cards’ that includes Kevin Spacey,” according to The Washington Post. Other companies have a moral obligation to follow suit.

Consumers voice their opinions with their money and viewership, and audiences shouldn’t support people like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

This isn’t to say that we should start a witch-hunt and ostracize every person accused of sexual assault, but accusations with mounting evidence like Weinstein’s, or those who purposely throw a community under the bus like Spacey’s, cannot be pardoned for their behavior.

“Nope to Kevin Spacey’s statement,” said activist and author Dan Savage. “There’s no amount of drunk or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14 year old child.”

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