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Speaking Up About Rape Culture In Music and Film

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Does it feel like the recent rape allegations against high-ranking Hollywood executive/producer Harvey Weinstein, have opened the proverbial floodgates—empowering actors and musicians to speak up out about a long history of abuse?

Before we answer that question, first let’s just establish the fact that accusations of rape, sexual assault, or harassment are always serious and must be handled as such.

Speaking from the perspective of a young (officially 29-year-old) man, hearing allegations that some old pervert tried bartering work for sexual favors, did not take me by surprise at first, considering the known history of male chauvinism in Hollywood. But after reading some of the accounts, it was hard not to feel completely disgusted.

It’s not a “new” trend in music and cinema, but it is one that needs to stop. According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one in every six women will have been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

This was the motivation and inspiration behind actress Alyssa Milano‘s recent “#MeToo” social media campaign… not only to call attention to sexual harassment as it exists in Hollywood but to call attention to how often it occurs everyday life. The rate of sexual assault and rape has dropped more than 63 percent since 1993, but is that really fast enough? As a society, we can definitely do better to try and improve this.

So, did Weinstein suddenly cause there to be more attention to the trend? Or is it just karma finally catching up to those who spent their entire career making the wrong decisions?

This wasn’t the first case to surface in recent years. As many of us may recall, actor/comedian Bill Cosby was accused of rape, in a similarly eye-opening fashion, when more than 33 different victims came forward claiming that his behavior of sexual deviancy had persisted over several decades. The trial is still ongoing, however, Cosby has been stripped of all awards and honorary titles. Weinstein also faced a similar fate, having since been kicked out of the Motion Picture Academy and disowned by his brother, Miramax co-founder Bob Weinstein.

Since the allegations against Cosby arose in 2015, there have been a litany of allegations that surfaced, including claims against Hip-Hop Pioneer Afrika BambaataaBrooklyn indie rock group PWR BTTM, UK pop-punk band Neck Deep,

And sure, people do love a salacious headline, but it’s not something to be thrown around recklessly. That is why when you read something about R. Kelly running a “sex cult” or the legal battle between Kesha and music producer Dr. Luke, it’s usually well reported and offers some type of insight on the issue.

Following the outpour of support on social media, Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk has come forward with allegations accusing an unidentified Danish director of sexual assault. According to The Guardian, based the accusations and the fact that she has only starred in one feature film, have led several to assume she had been referring to Lars Von Trier, who directed the film Dancer in the Dark.

And in the days following the Weinstein allegations, rapper Nelly was arrested on rape charges, Canadian musician Alex Calder was dropped from his label following sexual assault allegations, former Real Estate musician Matt Mondanile left the band amid sexual misconduct allegations, members of Polish metal outfit Decapitated were charged with raping and kidnapping, San Diego music producer The Gaslamp Killer was accused of drugging and raping two women, rapper Kodak Black was indicted on sexual assault charges, and police in London are now investigating magician David Blaine on rape allegations from 2004.

In a guest column for Variety, former Atlantic Records staffer Dorothy Carvello, even accuses the deceased record label co-founder, Ahmet Ertegun, of sexual misconduct. Clearly, the problem has existed for a long-time and whatever the reason, we’re just glad to see so many people who have found the courage to stand up and speak out about the issue.

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