Much has happened since The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed the predatory behaviour of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Tens of survivors have spoken up, including some high-profile actresses, accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment and even rape. Shortly after, alleged serial harassers in the media (Leon Wieseltier, Mark Halperin) too have come under the scanner. Among those whose allegedly serial violations have come to light include two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey. About a week ago, actor Anthony Rapp told Buzzfeed that Spacey, then 26, had made sexual advances on him when he was 14. Spacey, who claimed not to remember the incident, apologised in a statement in which he also came out as gay.
Since then several men have spoken out against Spacey’s allegedly predatory behaviour against men and boys. Actor Richard Dreyfuss’ son Harry spoke of being groped by Spacey while his father was in the same room. First, the allegations against Spacey show sexual harassment, which exists on the same spectrum of behaviour as rape, is ultimately an exercise of power and authority over others. It is that sense of power that allows a Weinstein to allegedly proposition a Gwyneth Paltrow, the daughter of Hollywood insiders, and Spacey to allegedly grope someone in the presence of his father. Such behaviour must no longer be tolerated or normalised as acts of male desire.
Second, rape culture spares no one, including men. Young boys and men have allegedly been sexually assaulted by Spacey for decades now. Patriarchal notions of masculinity force survivors to downplay or ignore such abuse and make it harder for those who do want to report such violations. In the process, serial predators go unchecked, leaving more people vulnerable. It is important that society understands how men and boys are vulnerable to abuse and provides support mechanisms and gender neutral legislations and policies to address this.