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NEWS 3 Sexual Assault: The Implications of a Year Ma tt hew Knight News Editor In October, several women accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. According to the claims, the producer and co-founder of the Weinstein Company (a Hollywood-based film production company), committed horrifying displays of assault to women. This includes purported inappropriate touching, exposing self, and rape. In response to the accusations, Weinstein was ultimately fired from his company and • expelled from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The issue gained incredible traction and headlined news and media outlets nationally, opening a dialogue_about the culture of sexual discrimination in the United States. The accusations against Weinstein led to a monumental shift in the entertainment industry, and new allegations were emerging on a seemingly daily basis. These accusations spanned from studio heads to directors to even big name actors, such as Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. However, the allegations weren't exclusive to entertainment, for it only took a __ matter of time for the claims to reach politics. In the past month, three congressmen and one congressional candidate have been implicated in sexual assault allegations of varying degrees. While all three congressmen have resigned from office, the accused congressional candidate, Roy Moore -despite allegations of sexual assault from five teenagers- refuted all claims and pushed ahead with his campaign in Alabama. He was ultimately defeated to Doug Jones, the first Alabaman Democratic Senator to be elected in 25 years. Many attributed his loss to his looming allegations, showing that sexual assault is beginning to be taken more seriously. Since October, a total of 42 men, representing <t • t;. fi Ill • * ~ 4 ' • · o f Allegation s a multitude of industries, have been called out for sexual assault, each facing different response and consequence. But what does ' this mean? As Elizabeth Hubble, Professor of Gender Studies at University of Moritana, explains, · \These accusations are part of a broader cultural shift towards equality across gender, race, class, and ability lines.\ Professor Hubble went on the say, \The most recent presidential election demonstrated the extentto which we still live in a culture where accusations of sexual harassment and assault are not taken seriously. The last year has witnessed the breaking down of that issue with more artd more women coming forward, and more and more people believing victims, for example, John Oliver's confrontation with Dustin Hoffman. It's so important that it's not just people like me standing up for victims; it can't just be the feminists or the women's studies researchers. We need public figures like Oliver (and others) helping fight that battle.\ But how these allegations resulted in change? Hubble said, \ While revelations are ongoing, and we've yet to see how all of them will play out, the most important aspect is how many people (both men and women) have been empowered to come forward. The whole #Me Too phenomenon and the responses show a more broad-based support for believing the victims wfiich is a shift from the past:' This changed mindset when addressing sexual assault is perhaps the largest step that has been taken to confront the both the inherent discrimination in our culture as well as the history of assault. In early December, Time magazine, one of the nation's largest publications, presented their Person of the Year Cover of Time Magazi n e's Person of the Year Issue award to the women who broke the silence with regard to sexual assault to bravely recount their struggle of discrimination. The Time piece, aptly titled \The Silence Breakers: The Voices that Launched a Movement;' provide further merit provided further merit to the claims of these wo~en. Additionally, the publication has aided in setting a tone for future response to sexual assault. Issues of sexual assault and discrimination have plagued our country throughout history; though it took until 2017 for women to be heard, their claims immediately warranted serious change for the present and, hopefully, the future.