Sexual Assault Creeps Into Every Corner Of Our Culture

#MeToo just scratches the surface of the sexual harassment that exists in every industry

This combination photo shows actresses listed in alphabetical order, top row from left, Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, Jessica Barth, Cara Delevingne, Romola Garai, Judith Godreche, Heather Graham, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Lea Seydoux and Mira Sorvino, who have made allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. (AP Photo/File)

This combination photo shows actresses listed in alphabetical order, top row from left, Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, Jessica Barth, Cara Delevingne, Romola Garai, Judith Godreche, Heather Graham, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Lea Seydoux and Mira Sorvino, who have made allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. (AP Photo/File)

Co-Written By Abigail Barker and Remy Anne

Millions of women have shared their #MeToo stories since the revelation of disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein’s lifetime of sexual assault. Our friends, mothers, women with Academy Awards, and United States Senators have all spoken up about their experiences. As each account of abuse makes its way into the mainstream conversation, there is appreciation for their bravery but a heaviness that refuses to go away.

The past few weeks have been a back and forth between feeling the relief that these issues are finally coming to a head and the dread that these stories have yet to cease. We ask ourselves, “how can there be more?” But the stories just keep breaking, like waves pummeling the shore.

We, the women of Rantt, struggled to write this account as daily, sometimes even hourly, new allegations rose to the surface and made headlines. Former presidents and journalists, politicians and producers, CEOs and managers. We revised this story so many times that we wondered if we’d ever be able to hit publish. If there would ever be a lull in the storm that might allow us to catch our breath and survey the destruction.

Enough is enough. As survivors, our time to be heard has finally arrived.

We are now confronted with the reality of how pervasive sexual assault and harassment is in entertainment, fashion, tech, business, the arts, government, school, churches, friends, and families. The facts and figures have faces, stories, and lives. We can see the damage it does because chances are, we have felt it ourselves.

I was by myself at a Fashion Week after-party somewhere in Hells Kitchen. I was seventeen years old working as an assistant to a stylist, playing hooky from my second week of college just to be in New York. No one believed me when I told them my age — “you can’t be seventeen — you look twenty-five!” One guy made me take out my ID in disbelief.

But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that a lawyer in his mid-forties, whose name I wish I remember, spent the majority of the night following me around, cornering me between a wall and a glass of chocolate infused vodka. “The music is so loud,” he said as he inched his way closer and closer to me.

We chatted politely. I kept my cool and never put my drink down. He didn’t touch me, but he didn’t need to. His breath hitting my neck was close enough. He propositioned me. “I’m seventeen years old,” I told him. “Oh that doesn’t matter, this is New York.” As if the glitz and glamour of New York was supposed to negate the fact that I was wildly uncomfortable.

I was a teenage girl alone and cornered by a man nearly three times my age. Nothing happened, so to speak, but that doesn’t matter either.

Abigail Barker, Staff Writer and Editor at Rantt

The Entertainment And Fashion Industries Power Play

Our entertainment industries are rife with these stories — most far worse than what I experienced. The movie, television, music, and fashion industries are flooded with pervs who get their kicks from getting people wrapped around their powerful fingers: Agents, publicists, producers, photographers, directors, talent scouts, co-stars — the list goes on.

Sign the Petition: Don't Let Harvey Weinstein Get Away With Sexual Harassment

This isn’t about gender or age either: Terry Crews and James Van Der Beek both came out with their stories. Crews is in his late forties and Van der Beek has been experiencing assault throughout his twenty-plus year career. Corey Feldman has repeatedly gone on the record about the sexual and emotional abuse he suffered as a child.

This week, Feldman launched a “Truth Campaign,” to expose the child pedophilia ring going on in Hollywood. Feldman and the late Corey Haim were open about the rape and molestation they experienced as young boys at the height of their careers.

Hilarie Burton was doing her job on live TV when she was grabbed by another actor. Gwyneth Paltrow was going to a dinner meeting to meet the producer of her upcoming film. Dylan Farrow was just a kid hanging out with her dad. Samantha Geimer was a child on a photo shoot with an esteemed director. Beverly Johnson thought she was just getting drinks with a comedian. Kesha was working with her producer. Anna del Gaizo was on an impromptu photo shoot with one of the most prestigious photographers in the fashion industry. Tina Turner was married to her manager.

The amount of allegations in Hollywood are staggering when you actually compile them, as this woman did, into a single list. You’ll have to scroll to get through the list. Twice. That’s because it contains over 70 names that you’ll instantly recognize as the powerful men who produce, direct, and star in Hollywood films. From Bill Cosby accused of assaulting more than fifty women to director James Toback, whose current harassment allegations total more than 300 hundred women.

Weinstein Isn’t The Only One: Screen Celebs Who Abuse Women or Children

Despite every bit of evidence pleading with the public to believe otherwise, so many still think that any abuse, rape, and assault occur from being in the wrong place at the wrong time; from what you were wearing, to who you were with, to what was in your glass, etc. After something happens, the fact of the matter remains that it never mattered where you were, what you wore, or even if you had a cup at all.

It is statements made in light of the facts, such as the one from a female fashion designer and another from a beloved director, that prove we have a long way to go.

Tweet from Hilarie Burton’s One Tree Hill co-star, Sophia Bush

Tweet from Hilarie Burton’s One Tree Hill co-star, Sophia Bush

Few industries incite cruelty among women as much as fashion. The pressure to be thin, but also curvy — but not too curvy. To be pretty, but what kind of pretty? Hot pretty? Cute pretty? Wear this, but not that, and never in that color. Impress him, make her jealous, make yourself feel awful.

The very nature of the fashion industry is to shame women into being complicit in the rat race of perfection. Failure to exist in a strata of unattainable perfection is an indictment against your womanhood.

Nothing is perfect or pretty or jealousy-inducing about sexual assault, harassment, or rape.

As the rest of us age, the girls on the runway stay the same age. With some models as young as thirteen, their work is easily seen as exploited child labor. Realizing how transparently abusive the fashion industry had become in their selection of underage models, many designers and publications, including Michael Kors and Vogue — have vowed to never use underage models in their shows and editorial spreads.

“Who are you wearing?” gets asked on every red carpet, especially during award season. Many times the woman behind the gown on the best-dressed list is Georgina Chapman, head of luxury label Marchesa and wife of Harvey Weinstein. Has there ever been a more perfect example of an individual who knows well and good about the predatory nature of her husband, but also the value of protecting a brand?

“Behavior like this is appalling and unacceptable. I feel horrible about what these women have experienced and admire their bravery in coming forward. My heart goes out to them, as well as to Georgina and the children. We all have a role to play in creating safe environments where everyone can be free to work without fear.” — Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Magazine and Artistic Director of Condé Nast

Fashion rarely suffers for the indecencies of its leaders. The particular fusion in which Chapman and her estranged spouse have been leaders in their respective roles puts a unique pressure on the two industries. Now with proof that her husband worked to put his starring actresses in Marchesa gowns, the questions regarding Chapman’s awareness of her husbands acts demand answers.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge of heinous acts and the failure to use power to assist the marginalized becomes an act of complicity.

We celebrate our musical divas and popstars in equal likeness to actresses. They too are asked, “who are you wearing?” criticized for how they look and praised when they conform. And just like actresses, get locked into awful contracts and cornered by predatory producers and agents.

Bad record deals are nearly a rite of passage in the music industry. Everyone from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (by the same producer) to TLC and N.W.A. have a storied history of horrendous label contracts undermining the rights to their own work and creative freedom. Prince repeatedly called record labels “slavery.”

Most recently, Kesha’s legal battles have dominated the music world. Having now been contractually forced to work with the producer who has sexually and verbally abused her for over a decade, Kesha has been fighting to be freed from her Sony/RCA contract for nearly three years. Though Kesha decided to drop her suit in California, the suit in New York was dismissed by Judge Shirley Kornreich who also refused to amend her original case in March.

While lawsuits over record contracts are typically filed over monetary and creative disagreements, Kesha’s case stands out due to its accusations of long withstanding sexual abuse. Sony/RCA’s failure to immediately protect her from her producer is egregious and speaks to how little they care about the emotional and mental well-being of their employee. Other industry giants such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, and Jack Antonoff rallied behind Kesha both in their support of her and her story and their refusal to defend and work with the producer.

It is of note to add that Judge Kornreich is the wife of Ed Kornreich, Esq. Mr. Kornreich is a partner in the firm Proskauer Rose, which represents Sony/RCA.

The entertainment and fashion industries keep their friends close and their predators closer. We’ve either known or heard the rumors for years, if not decades about all of these men and yet, somehow they still work and receive Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, and Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Awards as those they oppress somehow slip into obscurity, get called liars, be embroiled in legal battles that last years, or end up on the receiving end of a Twitter ban for speaking out.

Until these industries implement and stick to their defense of the vulnerable and unprotected, their actions are equivalent to “thoughts and prayers.” A good op-ed isn’t going to solve the problem either, especially when you consider how rare justice is in the face of the stories seeking closure.

Justice from the law may never be attainable, but justice from the culture, companies, and individuals who seek to protect is possible. First, it comes from asking ourselves what we value more — our entertainment or the safety of our fellow beings?

I was at a conference, in a crowded hotel bar. Like everyone in that room, I’d been drinking a little too much. Sectioned off in a corner with a male colleague and my department head, I was diving into a discussion about competency-based education, gesturing with my hands and laughing too loudly. I remember the department head kept staring at my knee-high boots and skirt and the colleague continued to make comments thick with sexual innuendo. I began to realize I was in a precarious position, that I should probably make a quick escape before anyone at that table got the wrong idea.

Because while I’d been passionately philosophizing about our education system, they’d been staring at my legs.

In the elevator, the department head came up behind me so quickly it made my head spin. I had just been reaching out to press the button for my floor and there he was, pressed up against me from behind and smelling like a distillery. He breathed heavily against the skin of my neck, grabbed my breast clumsily, and asked if I wanted to come to his room. We were both married at the time and he was nearly two decades older than me.

This man didn’t threaten me. He didn’t have to.

While I turned down his offer, I never reported the incident. Why? Honestly, it never occurred to me. In the aftermath, I questioned whether I should have worn those boots, whether I should have talked so loudly. But I never once asked myself if I should report the harassment. It wasn’t worth placing my career in jeopardy over an incident that didn’t seem that bad.

This is where we are at, ladies. Where we weigh the threat to our career against our sense of violation as if somehow that equation will add up.

Kaz Weida, Managing Editor at Rantt

Money, Power, And The Problem In Business And Tech

As additional victims of harassment and assault at the hands of Harvey Weinstein came forward this past week, you’d be forgiven for assuming it was one of the largest, most shocking harassment scandals of the year.

Except we’ve been here before. Just a few months ago. And the fact that we’ve already collectively forgotten that this kind of harassment pervades every industry is proof positive that men like Harvey Weinstein will continue to prey on women.

Just this past summer, allegations of sexual harassment ran rampant in Silicon Valley, causing a wave of resignations and some serious soul-searching on the part of tech startups. Here are just a few of the men who have been forced to step down either because they were outed as sexual predators or because they actively enabled a culture of harassment at their companies:

Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO

Mike Cagney, Social Finance CEO

David McClure, 500 Startups Founder

Tom Frangione, COO Greylock Partners

Justin Caldbeck, Binary Capital Partner

Frank Artale, Managing Partner at Ignition Partners

Zain Jaffer, CEO Startup Vungle

Robert Scoble, Tech Evangelists, Author and Blogger

This ripple of scandal became a wave of outrage for a few weeks, prompting venture capitalists like Chris Sacca to pen mea culpa’s about how his support enabled aggression and harassment of women in Silicon Valley and beyond.

“I’ve learned that it’s often the less obvious, yet pervasive and questionable, everyday behaviors of men in our industry that collectively make it inhospitable for women.”

Women, like me, who have spent decades in boardrooms don’t have just one Harvey Weinstein. We’ve experienced dozens of micro-aggressions, been propositioned by men in power so many times we’ve lost count. And each time we carefully tally the balance sheet. Is reporting the incident worth the cost to our career?

Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber

The math didn’t work out for Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer whose frank dissection of the toxic culture in Silicon Valley that prompted her resignation went viral. It was as if someone had opened a floodgate and the stories poured in. Like the #MeToo hashtag, a startling number of women in tech and science report they have experienced some form of harassment or assault and a generally toxic culture that eventually, forced women out of the industry.

Women Who Tech conducted a survey of 950 tech employees, founders, and investors working in tech and the results are pretty much what you’d expect. A majority of women in tech had experienced sexual harassment and nearly 13% had been directly propositioned for sex. The men? Some reported they had been harassed, but indicated this was related to offensive jokes or assaults on their professional character. Not a single male reported being propositioned for sex in the workplace.

<a href=

“Tech and Startup Culture Survey”, Women Who Tech” class=”aligncenter size-full” />“Tech and Startup Culture Survey”, Women Who Tech

Some of the most harrowing stories come out of the tech startup industry, where women CEOs are often placed in the precarious position of soliciting venture capital from powerful men. These intelligent, ambitious women have power and money of their own but it doesn’t seem to protect them from the hands reaching under the table, the insinuation that if they’d just give one more inch of their self-respect, a man might hand them a check.

In these stories, we see echoes of what actresses experienced with predators like Harvey Weinstein. They could have star power and plenty of money, but it wouldn’t protect them from the reality of reporting sexual harassment in America.

“When you talk about sexual harassment, it’s like dropping a nuclear bomb on your career.”-

Susan Ho co-founder of Journy

At the heart of these interactions lies the truth about the problem with sexual harassment and assault. It’s about power. These male investors see themselves as demi-gods, able to confer success. And in return, they don’t ask for a woman founder’s hard work or brilliant ideas. They ask for her body and her sexuality.

The #MeToo campaign has snowballed into a watershed moment for harassment in the workplace. As momentum gathers, it continues to pick up more harrowing stories from across the business world, including the trenches of Wall Street. Recently, investment firm Fidelity fired a tech manager and another employee after allegations of harassment surfaced. The company held an emergency meeting and hired a consulting firm to investigate. And if previous stories are any indication, this is just the beginning of a wave of allegations. The power hungry, misogynistic culture that gave rise to the Wolf of Wall Street hasn’t changed much in the better part of two decades.

The real reason harassment persists in America’s tech and business industries is the same reason it persists everywhere. Because our culture continues to reinforce the idea that a woman’s body is property. To own, to legislate, and to control. It’s the value she brings to society, the only power we allow her to have. This doesn’t just exist in entertainment or fashion. It’s in every corner of our culture, in every nook and cranny of the ways in which we interact with one another in the public and the personal.

Our cultural narratives frame a women’s sexuality as a weapon, the seat of her power. Her ability to create life is a gift, something that makes her scared. But neither of these things are her own. They are the value she brings to the table, the bargaining chip she must leverage in order to get ahead. When she attempts to own her sexuality or her ability to procreate, she is told to sit down and be quiet, to cede that power to men and to society.

“Then we realized what the connection was: all of these behaviors are the actions of someone who feels entitled to other people’s property — regardless of whether it’s someone else’s ideas, work, money, or body. Another common factor was the desire to dominate and control other people. In venture capital, you see the same people accused of sexual harassment and assault also doing things like blacklisting founders for objecting to abuse and calling people nasty epithets on stage at conferences.” — The Al Capone theory of sexual harassment can help Silicon Valley stop hiring horrible people, Quartz

In tech and business, a woman’s sexuality is a double-edged sword, and it is always used against her. If she speaks up, she sinks her career. If she stays silent, she allows predators to use the power of shame against her. It’s an impossible decision and it’s the reason that only 3% of women chose to stick it out at companies like Uber in 2017. It’s the reason women make up only 18% of asset management firms in America. If you’re going to have to live and work and breathe alongside someone who threatens your safety on a daily basis, it makes sense not to go where you’ll be outnumbered.

I had just begun my first full-time job as a professional classical ballet dancer. Excited to be working in the field I had trained my whole life for, I did everything I could to ingratiate myself with my directors. I memorized the way the older girls did their makeup, spending hours perfecting the proper twist of my hair, remembering that they had told me our director had certain “standards.” When I heard him compliment another dancer’s lipstick, I went out and bought the same shade, hoping it would give me the final edge needed in such a competitive world.

I had seen the way his eyes followed us during our morning class, while we were clad in nothing more than leotards and tights, our body on display for the sake of art and athleticism. I was proud of the way I looked, having spent years working hours each day to mold my muscles like the Olympians I admired.

It was nearing the end of rehearsal one day when our director decided he needed to re-stage a section of the ballet. He moved a few girls around, leading them by the wrist or shoulder — physical command the preferred method of communication in the ballet world. When he got to me, he placed his hand on my waist and paused.

I was positioned near the back of the room and few could see behind me. My director began to give the rest of the room corrections, all the while his hand slipping further down my hip and eventually underneath my skirt. When I tensed, clearly uncomfortable, he smiled — his breath in my ear as he moved me to a new spot on the floor. I did nothing, afraid to upset the man that held my career in his hands.

Later that evening, I confided in one of the older dancers. She stared at me for a long time, with something akin to anger in her eyes, before uttering words I would spend years thinking about.

“Why are you complaining? This means he likes you. You’ll probably be promoted soon.”

Remy Anne, Deputy Managing Editor at Rantt

Manipulation And Abuse Of Power In Athletics

Female athletes face an exceedingly complicated relationship with their bodies. Not only are they seen as commodities to objectify when they walk down the street, but they exist as the very instrument upon which these women make their living and career.

And as with other industries, the most powerful characters in these professions are often men — be them coaches, directors, or choreographers. While dance and gymnastics are arguably dominated by women on the field, positions of power are frequently relegated to their male counterparts. When athletic vocations that require great physicality conflate power dynamics with misogyny, women often face the choice of allowing inappropriate conduct to go unchallenged if they wish to advance in their fields.

In fact, greater success does not protect women from these abominable interactions. Just last week, Olympic champion McKayla Maroney bravely came forward about her experience being assaulted by the doctor for the US Women’s National Gymnastics Team. Maroney adds her name to the list of more than 140 women who have accused Dr. Larry Nassar of abuse and assault.

Maroney’s story is absolutely horrifying — but what is most troubling is her resigned statement that this is “happening everywhere.” Experiences like Maroney’s are not the exception — more often than not, they are the rule. We exist within a culture that allows for a systematic manipulation of power, where even our most successful athletes must fight tooth and nail for their own bodily autonomy.

Take prima ballerina Anastasia Volochkova, of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, who spoke of a “brothel” like atmosphere where dancers were forced to provide intimate favors to theatre patrons. After coming forward, she was accused of damaging the company’s reputation.

“Girls are invited to take turns by the administrator, who explains that they are going to a party, with dinner and a follow-up, in bed, and going all the way.” — Volochkova to Russian media channels

Or Lissa Curtis, who was repeatedly assaulted by her ballet instructor while attending an international ballet competition in Romania.

Or Anna Strzempko, who in 2008 at the age of thirteen was raped by her swim coach after being called into his office under the guise of talking about her potential to compete in the 2012 Olympic Trials. She was allegedly left lying alone on a cement floor.

In 2016, an IndyStar-USA Today Network conducted a review of hundreds of case files regarding sexual assault allegations in the gymnastics field. They discovered that at least 368 athletes have faced some sort of sexual abuse in their training, which they noted was likely an undercount. Furthermore, certain organizations failed to alert the proper authorities when such allegations were brought forward.

Most of this abuse came from the hands of authority figures who were supposed to function as mentors to tenacious young women dedicated to pursuing challenging dreams.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, previous Olympic gold-medal swimmer who now heads the advocacy group Champion Women, spoke to the systematic continuation of this exploitation:

“It’s just too easy for coaches to keep getting hired and hired and hired. Sexual abuse thrives on the fact that people are embarrassed about the topic, ashamed to talk about it, and they keep quiet about it. And that’s exactly why molesting coaches keep getting hired at the next place. Nobody talks about a coach that is inappropriate with athletes; the coach quietly moves away and gets hired someplace else.”

As we’ve seen with the Weinstein revelations, success does not insulate a woman from predatory, abusive men. More often than not, women who want to achieve at high levels must reckon with the fact that their bosses, coaches, and directors have a high probability of posing a danger to them.

In fields such as dance and gymnastics, where the competition is so fierce and one’s body is by definition their most valuable tool, women are even more vulnerable to the attacks of powerful men who believe female bodies are their property. This abuse is so integrated within the systems that make up the structures of these organizations that it is rarely even recognized as such.

However, with brave women like Maroney and Volochkova standing up to an organizational culture that perpetuates harassment, women in these fields stand a fighting chance to take back the power from predatory men — by shining the light on the those that bank on keeping their deeds hidden.

The Politics Of Power And Abuse

No expose on the prevalence of assault in America would be complete without mentioning politics and journalism. Yes, we’re looking at you, Fox News.

If company culture begins at the top, Fox was an incubator for sexual harassment from the start. Roger Ailes was forced to step down earlier this year as chairman and top executive at Fox News after being sued for sexual harassment by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.

She wasn’t alone. More than two dozen women, including Megyn Kelly, described that over his 20-year tenure at Fox, Ailes had repeatedly offered career advancement in return for sex. When the dust settled, Fox had paid out settlements to six women and sent Ailes on his way with a tidy $40 million for his trouble.

And let’s not forget the illustrious heavy breather and creep that is Bill O’Reilly, Fox’s poster boy pundit. The network was forced to fire O’Reilly after multiple settlements they’d made on his behalf came to light. Fox paid $13 million to five women over allegations of sexual harassment or verbal abuse by O’Reilly.

<a href=

“Bill O’Reilly Thrives at Fox News Even as Harassment Settlements Add Up,” The New York Times” class=”aligncenter size-full” />“Bill O’Reilly Thrives at Fox News Even as Harassment Settlements Add Up,” The New York Times

Recently it was revealed that even after Bill O’Reilly agreed to settle a harassment lawsuit for $32 million in January of this year, Fox News still renewed his contract. Apparently, when it comes to ratings, there isn’t anything that Fox won’t condone.

Unfortunately, the Fox saga doesn’t end there. Fox News host Eric Bolling was suspended and then left the network after reports surfaced that he enjoyed snapping penis pics and sending them to former female colleagues. It’d be tempting to write this off as a toxic, misogynistic culture at Fox and leave the blame neatly tied with a bow on their God Bless America doormat.

But if we did, we’d miss predators like Mark Halperin. At 52, he’s a revered journalist who has worked for ABC News, NBC News, Bloomberg, and authored the best-selling book Game Change. The Washington Post has also spoken with nine women this week who say Halperin, a former political director at the Disney-owned ABC News, instigated unwanted sexual contact or assaulted them.

“I was a victim of Mark’s repulsive behavior. For years I’ve regretted not saying something. But I was embarrassed and scared that I would lose my job if I spoke out. Who would believe me? It was an awful position to be in.”

Harassment can be found not just on both sides of the aisle, but also within the hallowed halls of Congress. In a workplace filled with powerful men, young female aides often scramble to make their mark and can too often fall victim to unwanted sexual advances. In response to #MeToo, some of the most powerful women in the Senate shared their stories of being harassed and assaulted by male colleagues or superiors.

While women on Capitol Hill cite harassment and abuse as a commonplace occurrence, many don’t know where to go or whom to turn to, to seek help.

“Many of us in Congress know what it’s like, because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long. It’s time to throw back the curtain on the repulsive behavior that has thrived in the dark without consequences.” — Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)

Here are just a few political leaders who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault. For the sake of brevity, we’ve only included confirmed cases since 2010:

And that, of course, brings us to Presidents both former and present. George H.W. Bush is the latest in a series of allegations that the leaders of this country use the power of their office to harass and assault women. Whether it’s Thomas Jefferson or Grover Cleveland, Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton or GW Bush, there have been persistent rumors and accusations of misconduct.

Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is probably the most prominent and egregious example of this kind of behavior. He has been accused of sexual assault by 13 women, including Summer Zervos who is pursuing a defamation case against Trump. His ex-wife, Ivana, recounts a violent incident during their marriage that she initially described as rape, although she later redacted that statement. Jessica Leeds is one of more than a dozen women who describe being assaulted by Donald Trump, and their stories sound eerily familiar.

One would assume after seeing a Presidential candidate caught on tape saying such things, the campaign would have come to a screeching halt. But this is America. So everyone shook their fists for awhile, then eventually normalized an account of sexual assault as “locker room talk” and moved onto the next juicy headline in the news cycle.

The person who occupies the Presidency wields enormous power, not just politically but personally. And as we’ve seen in every other facet of American life, when the power dynamics put men in charge and women at their mercy, terrible things happen in this country. And they’ll continue to happen as long as a certain portion of the electorate can make excuses for a man like Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, I pulled up outside of my daughter’s elementary school and tumbled out of the car, in a hurry to pick her up and beat the rush hour traffic. As I approached across the playground, my daughter ran towards me, throwing every inch of her five-year-old self into my arms. Her face was streaked with tears.

The story came out in disjointed fragments. An eleven-year-old boy had approached her. When she rebuffed his advances at conversation, he scratched at her stomach, pulled at her clothes, smacked her butt, and then pulled her pants down. My heart stuck in my throat at her words.

I approached the older boy, working hard to control my anger and turning to solicit help from the supervising teacher who was standing nearby. When I relayed the story, the older woman shook her head. I was stunned to learn she’d seen the entire encounter and done nothing.

“She was being mean.” The teacher turned towards my daughter. “You called him a name. You deserved it.” At this point, sensing my mounting fury, she pointed towards the security cameras installed just feet away and shrugged. “You can look at the video if you want.”

I’ll confess I became apoplectic with rage. I did manage to choke out a few words before I stormed away.

“I don’t care what she did. There’s isn’t anything she could ever say or do to deserve that.”

Kaz Weida, Managing Editor at Rantt

In the wake of #MeToo, while many men expressed stunned disbelief at the sheer number of stories and prevalence of sexual harassment, women’s reactions looked a little more like this.

Or this…

Because every woman has a Harvey Weinstein, every little girl has some boy who thinks it’s okay to pull her pants down. And we’re tired as hell of accepting the status quo, of living one more minute under the rule of the patriarchy. There is no safe space until we refuse this mantle of shame and silence we’ve been saddled with. Because these predators aren’t strangers or monsters. They’re people you know. Men you love. Colleagues you work with. Husbands and fathers, brothers and sons.

If anything can be a silver lining to this week, it is that men are stepping up and offering solutions to the systemic issues at hand. #HowIWillChange is becoming the public testament to a hopeful shift in our culture. Gentlemen, hold your colleagues and friends accountable. A hashtag is only as good as the actions behind it.

#HowIWillChange <a href=

Tweet” class=”aligncenter size-full” />#HowIWillChange Tweet

We have become a society where we value power more than the life being manipulated by the lauded stature. Our collective goal, whether as survivors or allies, should be to put as much pressure possible on the powers that be to institute accountability: To be bold in our honesty and courageous in our truth telling. For as long as these abuses abound, there is not a single one of us who is alone.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault, abuse, or rape and need to speak with someone, please reach out to one of the organizations below for support, legal advice, and hope:

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