Ashley Judd says ‘tipping point’ here on sexual harassment

Actress Ashley Judd at the Women's Media Awards. Evan Agostini, Invision, AP.

Actress Ashley Judd, who was one of the women whose stories about sexual harassment and abuse led to the downfall of media mogul Harvey Weinstein, says society is at a ‘tipping point’ on sexual harassment.

The actress said, “The actress added that ‘this will be the end of it if we decide that's what we want’ before being honored at the Women's Media Center Awards in New York on Thursday,” according to the Associated Press.

Since the New York Times article about sexual harassment appeared on October 5, over 50 women have come forward with allegations about Weinstein. Weinstein has said “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied” according to a statement by his spokeswoman.

Yet the allegations, and Weinstein’s fall from power in the entertainment industry, have helped replace the silence, the cover-ups and the fear of powerful men, with a full-throated roar. And in the aftermath, more and more stories of sexual abuse, often of prominent women in entertainment, government and business, have surfaced.

It is well beyond time for us to have a deep and thoughtful discussion about how sexual harassment happens, why it happens and how do we stop it. It is, as Ashley Judd said, a tipping point.

Since the Weinstein revelations there has been an outpouring of other accusations.

Actress Rose McGowan . Jordan Strauss, Invision, AP, File.

The allegations against Weinstein have included several charges of rape against him, including by actress Rose McGowan who says she has been “silenced for 20 years” but will no longer remain silent about sexual assault and harassment.

Actresses Selma Blair (left) and Rachel McAdams. AP photo.

Actresses Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams are two of the more than 200 women who have accused writer and director James Toback of having sexually harassed or assaulted them.

NBC suspended Mark Halperin on Thursday after CNN reported on the claims of five women who said the political journalist harassed them while he was an ABC News executive.

It was revealed that former Fox News celebrity, host and author Bill O’Reilly had once paid $32 million in settlement of a sexual harassment claim.

U. S. Senators  Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) all revealed having been sexually harassed. Hirono later tweeted, “Pretty much every woman that I know, myself included, has a #MeToo story.”

Congresswoman Jackie Speier said she was grabbed and kissed as a young congressional aide, and invited staffers to share their own stories.

It’s not just powerful men who commit these crimes; they happen in our own communities, in schools, churches and elsewhere throughout our society. Accusations and convictions have become so commonplace that they get only brief mention on the news, if they are mentioned at all. It’s only if it is a Harvey Weinstein or a Bill Cosby that people take notice.

Men may not be aware of it, but as Sen. Hirono said, pretty much every woman has been sexually assaulted or harassed. And those women may include your mother, your sister and your spouse.

State legislators are beginning to take notice of this problem among lawmakers. A Democratic leader in Kansas called for sexual harassment training for his members. In Illinois, a measure has been introduced requiring training for government officials and to publish names of those who don’t comply. The Democratic leader of the Massachusetts House has ordered a review of sexual harassment policies in the Legislature.

That’s a start. But Ashely Judd’s comment that ‘this will be the end of it if we decide that's what we want’ is a more important statement. It is just not up to women to push forward a campaign against this despicable behavior; it is up to men to join with women. Collectively as a society, we need to say “Enough is enough – this stops now!”

Multiple Associated Press stories contributed to this article.

Copyright The Gayly – October 27, 2017 @ 4:30 p.m. CDT.