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Need To Know: Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, and Exposing the Ubiquity of Sexual Misconduct

From Hollywood to Capitol Hill and everywhere in between, women and men alike are coming forward every day to tell their stories of sexual assault and toxic masculinity.

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Lead photo via Facebook user Roy Moore

Here at MERRY JANE we’re convinced that the world revolves around cannabis. From politics to culture, civil rights to economics, you can find keef dusted across every facet of modern life. But in these increasingly divided times, where natural disasters go damn-near ignored for two months and Twitter fingers have almost literally become trigger fingers, it's become increasingly important to highlight the most pressing news outside of the cannabis space. In a bi-weekly round-up MERRY JANE will break down the stories making waves in media, politics, technology, and culture — keeping you up to date on what’s making our world tick. Here's what you Need To Know.

Since news of longtime Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual misconduct broke at the beginning of last month, a tidal wave of sexual assault and harassment allegations have flooded American society with a constantly updating look at what living under patriarchy really entails.

With new accusations arising daily, high-profile figures like politician Roy Moore, comedian Louis C.K., and news organizations like Vice, Fox News and IGN have come under fire for their treatment of women. And while gender has certainly played a role in the larger societal moment — with every accusation of assault lobbied at men — victimhood knows no identification, as actors Terry Crews and Anthony Rapp have come forward with their own tales of suffering improper sexual conduct; the latter’s allegations sparking the downfall of actor Kevin Spacey.

Thanks to the prevalence of social media, advancements in feminism, and a number of media outlets keeping the flame close to the accused, victims are finally being heard en masse after literal centuries of covert abuse.

While new revelations in America’s long-overdue acknowledgement of toxic masculinity continue to roll in, we’ve compiled a series of deep dives from around the web to break down who has been exposed, and how the entire situation fits into a larger historical context and our evolving future.

Two More Women Describe Unwanted Overtures by Roy Moore at Alabama Mall”                                            
Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites for The Washington Post
 

Roy Moore  the 70-year-old lawyer, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, and current Republican nominee to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate has been accused of sexual harassment by two more women, bringing the total number of accusers of the GOP politician to at least seven.

Like the women who originally brought Moore’s actions to light, the latest victims to come forward, Gena Richardson and Phyllis Smith, both recounted instances from 40 years ago in which Moore, then a local lawyer in his 30s, regularly trolled the local mall in Gadsden, Ala., making sexual advances towards teenage girls.

In Richardson’s case, the then senior in high school said that she met Moore while working at the Gadsden mall, and was pressured into a date after the man almost twice her age called her school and had Richardson brought out of class. After that date, Richardson says Moore forced himself on her, kissing her in the parking lot behind the same mall. According to Smith, Moore’s presence at the mall was well known, with teenage employees telling new hires to “just make yourself scarce when Roy’s in here, he’s just here to bother you, don’t pay attention to him and he’ll go away.”

Because of Moore’s high-profile position in the current political landscape, the still-surfacing abuse of power has lead to public calls for his resignation from the Senate race from people like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and has possibly inspired other swept away instances of sexual assault and harassment from inside the political ranks. The latest include allegations against Senator Al Franken, who is accused of groping and kissing news anchor Leeann Tweeden without her consent; claims which Franken has all but admitted to.  

With Moore a traditional Republican with support from his red state base, and Franken a liberal darling in Minnesota, the allegations against the two have shined a light on the problems with male power, but also fed into our drastically polarized political climate, with pundits on either side of the aisle quick to throw the politician with opposing views under the bus before turning around to defend their party’s own problem.

In attempting to bring long-forgotten accusations of sexual harassment and abuse to the forefront, political pundits and historians on both sides of the aisle have begun dealing with the decades-old string of allegations against former President Bill Clinton.

All of this recalls of the sexual misconduct of the White House's current occupant. Right before the 2016 election, audio surfaced of Donald Trump on a live mic telling Entertainment Tonight host Billy Bush that he “grabs women by the pussy.” Despite being a perfect representation of the patriarchy that's propelled the current sexual assault revelations, Trump regrettably recovered from that scandal to win the presidency.

Spacey Scandal: Old Vic's Investigation Finds 20 Counts of Alleged Inappropriate Behavior”                                    
Erin Jensen for USA Today
 

Before Roy Moore brought the current flood of sexual misconduct allegations back to the world of politics, it was a series of accusations against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein that opened Pandora’s box.

From a paper trail of payoffs to excusing his actions as mental illness, Weinstein’s downfall has been sudden and total. He was fired from the Weinstein Company, and now, after at least 20 years of misconduct that was an "open secret" in the industry, the Miramax founder is a virtual pariah.

In the five weeks since Weinstein’s ousting, a who’s who of entertainment industry stars have followed in his path, falling from Hollywood’s highest heights as victims from all over the world come forward with stories of sexual misconduct.

Louis C.K., the once-beloved comedian/actor, has met a fate similar to Harvey’s after years-old accusations about his tendency to forceably masturbate in front of women who did not want him to were corroborated by other women and confirmed in a half-hearted apology from C.K. Almost immediately, Netflix, FX, and the distribution company prepping to release C.K/’s newest film — the disturbingly titled I Love You, Daddy — have all cut ties with the New York comedian.

Kevin Spacey, star of Netflix’s “House of Cards” and a longtime veteran of both the film and theater industry, has also admitted to a number of sexual assault allegations, with actor Anthony Rapp recounting a 26-year-old Spacey making sexual advances on him when he was just 14. After Rapp’s courageous choice to come forward, the floodgates once again opened, with at least 20 other people accusing the American Beauty star of sexual harassment while he was the director of London’s Old Vic Theater from 1995 to 2003.

After fessing up to the inappropriate behavior, Spacey tried to both excuse his behavior and divert attention from his actions by coming out to the public as "a gay man." The fact that Spacey apparently doesn't understand that the wrongdoing involved in sexually harassing a 14-year-old has nothing to do with his sexuality is yet another example of how powerful men have both excused and ignored claims like Rapp’s.

Like Weinstein and C.K., Spacey has been all but exiled from the entertainment industry, dropped from Netflix’s popular political drama and immediately cut from the already-filmed Ridley Scott movie All the Money in the Worldreplaced by actor Christopher Plummer who is reshooting all of Spacey’s scenes.

"Blaming Victims Who Wait to Come Forward About Sexual Assault Is Not OK"                                                 
Maureen Shaw for Teen Vogue
 

With new allegations of sexual harassment, misconduct, assault, and rape making headlines in what seems like multiple times every day, society’s default reaction to raise arms and quickly ignore has been impossible.

Challenging the normative tendencies of the patriarchy even further, actress Alyssa Milano called on people around the world to share their own stories of sexual misconduct last month, using the social media hashtag, #MeToo to shed light on just how widespread the issue really is.

In the month since Milano’s tweet, thousands upon thousands of women have joined the movement.

Be it reactive justifications for male misbehavior blaming women for intoxication, their wardrobe, and now more than ever, waiting too long to speak up, women have always been second-guessed when they come forward with stories of sexual assault or misconduct.

And with little legal recourse for a number of these and other incidents, it has become incredibly difficult to hold men accountable for their actions.

But as more of America’s favorite public figures are exposed for the creeps they really are, it's increasingly important to consider the perspective of the victim, and believe and support the women brave enough to come forward.

As Maureen Shaw succinctly argues, there are countless reasons why women, and men, might keep their traumatic past a secret, and there are just as many reasons why one person coming out, or one executive actually getting punished, would influence more victims to follow suit.

As has been seen with Weinstein, Moore, Spacey, C.K., and others, these allegations tend to put deniers on the wrong side of history, and the sooner we can put aside our Netflix queues to care for each other as humans, the sooner we’ll be able to rid ourselves of the overarching patriarchy itself.

As for now: men, you can start by listening.

Follow Zach Harris on Twitter