For the past few weeks, I’ve been contemplating if I should write a blog post about consent. I didn’t want to come across as disrespectful. As a forewarning, I don’t want to seem insensitive to anyone who has experienced abuse by discussing controversial current events and making my own interpretations/connections to the past. In no way am I trying intentionally to single anyone out, but I would like to explain the “both/and” connection I made about how people use the time period to justify their actions and excuse their immoral behavior.
Before I even make my “both/and” connection, I’d like for you to guess which statement came from a recently exposed situation and which statement came from a past event.
- “Things were simple then. Informed consent was unheard of. No one asked me what I was doing. It was a wonderful time.”
- “I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”
The first quote was from Dr. Albert M. Klingman, who performed medical experiments at Holmesburg Prison on mostly African American male prisoners without their consent in the 1950s and 1960s (Washington, 251). The second quote comes from Harvey Weinstein, a director who sexually assaulted more than 40 women in Hollywood for decades (New York Times, Oct. 5). I read Emma’s post titled A Thank You Note to Everett and the questions she asked towards the end of her post were questions I asked myself about our society today. She wrote, “why do we sometimes have trouble believing those who have been victims of violence, of abuse? Can we support someone (or a group of people) who has been repeatedly victimized instead of questioning if they are actually the one who is the issue?”
For my “both/and” connection, I realized how both of these men come from high positions in their field of work. They are well-known, which is a disadvantage for the victims who might believe their voice is less significant or believable when compared to Klingman and Weinstein. What makes the situation even worse is that these men aren’t the only ones violating people; it’s just that more people were willing to come out and voice their experiences in these cases. Not only does the perpetrator tend to blame their behavior on their upbringings, they blame it on the type of environment they work in as well. Klingman was a doctor during the time in America when people were experimented on without consent, and he claimed that was normal in the medical world not to get consent from the person they were experimenting on. In Hollywood, there are directors like Weinstein who believe the only way actors and actresses can truly be successful is to become submissive and degrade themselves for a movie role.
Overall, I just think that it’s disgusting that we live in a world where some people believe it’s okay to exploit people for personal gain because they were taught how others before them have done the same thing. There are still many cases that haven’t come into the light, but in due time, I believe more people will speak out and hopefully feel like their confessions matter and that they aren’t in the wrong for standing up for themselves. I’m not saying this whole situation revolving around the idea of uninformed consent is an easy topic to discuss, but I’m glad that more people are willing to say something because they realize that they’re not the ones to blame and that there’s a supportive community willing to accept them with open arms.
One more thing I’d like to mention is how people use the excuse of what year we’re in as if that’s going to magically solve any problem we have in our country. For example, I see people online say “It’s 2017, things like this still shouldn’t be happening.” When I read something like that, I agree that more actions should be taken to end unacceptable mindsets (i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, dissent, etc.). Certain topics our society treats as taboo should be discussed or else the problem won’t disappear, regardless of how far back it might’ve originated. It’s a shame that we have to do this because I believe it’s common sense, but if we open up the conversation about certain topics like consent, then people will understand moral principles on how to treat others.
Link to Emma’s blog post: https://morrison.sunygeneseoenglish.org/2017/10/21/a-thank-you-note-to-everett/#more-2346
Link to New York Times Weinstein Statement: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/05/us/statement-from-harvey-weinstein.html