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Make sexual misconduct a national conversation

I want to start this by explaining that I cannot even count the number of times I’ve watched the entire “Gossip Girl” series. Growing up, my sister and I would watch it, my friends and I would watch it and when bad things would happen, I could mindlessly watch it to help me fall asleep. I think most of us have a show like this, and it makes me upset that I can’t think of the show anymore without disgust and anger. The stories revealed about Ed Westwick are absolutely sickening, and the idea of supporting a franchise that he, as an abuser, was involved with or even having to look at his face repulses me.

Just the other morning, I was looking up the sheer number of the individuals who have capitalized on their positions of power to take advantage of and effectively silence so many people for so long. I followed up by Googling all the different forms of media that they worked on or influenced in the hopes of being able to avoid them in the future. Part of me wondered if this was an act of self-sabotage; I don’t want to trigger myself every time I scroll across the countless movies and shows that these people have worked on or were in, but I also don’t want to consciously ignore the situation. I’d rather have to stop watching a show or movie that I had previously cared so much about, knowing that I am supporting those who bravely came forward, rather than support an abuser.

However, the situation in Hollywood urges the question of whether or not this leads to a larger conversation: it should. It is imperative that we recognize that we need to start having some difficult and frank conversations in all of the communities in which we are members. This happens everywhere; individuals all over the place that utilize their positions of power to take advantage of others and their bodies. Likewise, there are bystanders who essentially allow this to happen.

It’s dynamics like these and the ways in which people support perpetrators that leads to the silencing of victims. These situations, while more visible right now, are not uncommon and need to be addressed. Yes, some celebrities did terrible things and everyone needs to acknowledge that, but this should be talked about regardless of whether or not the abuser is “famous.”

Moreover, this needs to be an ongoing conversation, and we need to have it here. This is a story that we hear and see on every college campus, but it is not only an act of conscious ignorance, but also foolish to think that it doesn’t happen at Wooster as well.

It is imperative that we create a space where students are comfortable enough to come forward and tell their stories rather than be silenced. This phenomenon is plaguing the country, and the publicity that it is receiving right now could very well stimulate a fundamental change, but it is our responsibility to carry it out. It should go without saying: do not support abusers.

Sarah Vonck, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at SVonck18@wooster.edu.

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