The debacle of power

Megan Conway

Over the last number of weeks, Hollywood has been turned upside down as victims of sexual assault and harassment have come forward to accuse some of the best-known names of these treacherous acts and publicly adding their voice to the movement.

These allegations are the result of people of power taking advantage of people they think they have control over. They are the result of the existence of hierarchies of untouchables who create fear and manipulate victims into situations where they are heedless to the fact that they are indeed victims.

Harvey Weinstein’s manipulative ploys against a number of well-known actresses serve as proof that power has the ability to blind the perpetrator into thinking they can commit such acts. He placed vulnerable woman into moral transgressions where he promised them an advanced career in return for sexual favours. More than a dozen women came forward and accused Weinstein of harassment, assault and rape, but this was not about sex for Weinstein, it was simply about power.

Weinstein’s power driven sexual advances on women were not the only vicious acts that shook the movie industry over the last month. Kevin Spacey’s little house of lies was burnt to a cinder following allegations made by actor Anthony Rapp who accused Spacey of making a sexual advance on him when he was just 14 years old. Spacey, who is a decorated theatre and Broadway star as well as two-time Oscar winner, holds a powerful position in Hollywood. Following Rapp’s allegations, eight more men came forward and made specific claims against Spacey. He, like Weinstein, used his power to lure some of his alleged victims into succumbing to the promise of success and opportunity in Hollywood. Kevin Spacey used his power to prey on young men.

However, this problem doesn’t only just lie with the rich and famous. They are only shedding the spotlight on the much bigger predicament that has engulfed the world for years but most have failed to address. Power is capable of creating lunacy. Our own history echoes this. Ireland’s rocky relationship with the church is a vocal point of people of power taking advantage of those they believe they have control over. The similarities are eerie. Victims suffering at the hands of the powerful under false pretence. The perpetrators continue to bask in the glory of their successful careers despite the dirty secrets they hide. And then finally, after years of suffering, the victims come forward and make these allegations much to the shock of the bewildered public. This battle has gone on for far too long and it’s time for those who have abused their power and positions to be brought to justice.

If anything good has come from any of these allegations, it is that victims are finding the courage to speak up and call out these people for who they really are. However, in truth, the situation is much deeper than anyone can anticipate. People in positions of power need to realise that they do not have free reign to do as they wish at the expense of others. Power is not a license to rape, harass or assault. They need to be condemned by all so victims who remain silent through fear and shame can finally see their justice.

Megan Conway

Image by Megan Hannan