Sunday 15 October 2017

Nerd Church - On Presumed Innocence, Believing Victims, and Keeping the Legal Balance

(Warning: this post discusses sexual assault, harassment, rape, and victim blaming.)

By now, you'll probably have heard of the whole Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Honestly, before this all started, I hadn't even heard of Harvey Weinstein.

But I now understand that he apparently wielded a butt-load of behind the scenes power in Hollywood and the film industry for a looong time!

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The framing of a lot of the news stories has been against the accusers, although I've also seen things that are clearly slanted against the accused.

In most countries, there's a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

I believe in this with my whole heart. Until the facts are established in a court of law, that person is innocent.


You ALWAYS believe the victims, unless they are thoroughly disproved later (and this is rare - yes it happens occasionally, but it's RARE.)

But how do the two things work together?

Now, I know a lot of people don't get this, but until something is decided on a legal level, both facts are true.

So, truth: Harvey Weinstein is innocent until proven guilty.

Truth: The women are not lying; this happened to them.

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And women are not the only victims.

Two male actors, Terry Crews and James Van Der Beek, have told their stories of being assaulted by unnamed Hollywood executives.

The abuse of power in Hollywood, and beyond, clearly goes beyond the allegations against Weinstein.

There have been many hints and statements over the past week or so about the way the acting industry works - especially in regards to the treatment of young women.

And let's not forget the numerous allegations made against the current president of the United States, including his own bragging about sexual assault he's committed.

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Cara Delevingne's story shows the specific problems queer women face - especially in the film industry.

Delevingne spoke about being told by Weinstein that she'd never get work as an actress if she was publicly in a same-sex relationship, and being asked inappropriate questions about her sex life with other women.

Her description of being pressured to make out with another woman (which she managed to escape,) for Weinstein's pleasure shows a sickening level of fetishisation.

I'm also yet to comes across a news article or report that actually mentions this sexuality-based aspect to his harassment of her.

I'm not down-playing the terrifying and horrifying nature of him trying to kiss her - but the targeting of her for her sexuality is definitely not something which should be ignored.

His alleged actions reduced her sexuality to a commodity - a show, purely for his enjoyment.

Queer women shouldn't have to put up with this sh**.

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The innate instinct of many people to jump to victim-blaming is really not a great reflection on society.

If someone turns up at a hospital with a stab wound (to use a blunt analogy,) you don't, as a member of the medical staff, argue over whether they've been stabbed or not.

You accept that they've been stabbed.

Who stabbed them and why is not something you deal with at that moment. You need to deal with the damage.

In the Harvey Weinstein scenario, the accusers are stab victims. We are the medical staff.

The exact sequence of events is not our problem. We don't tell the patient that they haven't been stabbed.

Ok, maybe I'm laying it on a little thick, but *gestures, once again, at the world in general, and the US in particular* subtlety is not something we need right now.

And if you have EVER been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped, IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.

It doesn't matter what clothes you were or were not wearing. It doesn't matter if you'd been drinking. It doesn't matter if you'd been flirting with the attacker.

It doesn't matter if you were pole-dancing in the nude - IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.

The second you withdraw consent, or someone does something with no consent at all, IT IS THEIR FAULT NOT YOURS.

Most women (and some men) - sadly - have some experience of groping and/or assault.

I know that I've been groped by a**holes who casually put their hands where they shouldn't in the past.

It happens. But it SHOULDN'T.

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And when it comes to trials? The accused is the one on trial, NOT the victim.

The victim should NEVER be on trial.

We need to keep the balance.

Innocent until proven guilty. Belief in the victim unless disproven.

Until something tips the proverbial scales, BOTH of these things are true.

If you're struggling emotionally or mentally due to these issues (or any others,) my dear nerdlets, PLEASE get help.

There are suicide prevention and/or mental health helplines you can use.

And, if you're in the UK, you can talk to The Samaritans at any time, about any topic, without judgement.

You can follow me on Twitter @CeeArrBookNerd, on Dora Reads @ BlogLovin, and on Google+. For more ways to support me, check out the Support Me page

Related Reading:

Accidental Hipster Mum


  1. This whole thing is really quite disturbing. I was watching the news and they were asking Weinstein questions as he was leaving his house, and he said: “everyone makes mistakes.” Ugh no, a mistake is forgetting to turn the light off after leaving the house, what you did was not a mistake.

    What’s also really annoying me is, like you said, the victim blaming. A ton of people are blaming the women comin forward now for not coming forward sooner, so perhaps more women wouldn’t have suffered. However, most of these women did say things to their directors, partners and many famous male actors, and nobody did anything!! It’s really shocking listening to the likes of Matt Damon, Dicaprio, and Pitt almost defending their decisions not to say anything when they clearly knew something was going on.

    1. I don't know who knew what - but victims coming forward is a personal choice, and the pressure and expectations of the industry are very much weighted against them. Criticising victims just makes people even less likely to come forward in future.

      I don't like Weinstein. At all. And I'm sure the stuff he'll be willing to admit to will be bad enough.

      But he's still innocent until proven guilty. And I still believe ALL of the victims.

      I think we need to stress this as often as it takes to sink it - accepting that someone is innocent until proven guilty is NOT the same as disbelieving victims. We need to accept both - even though it feels contradictory. He's innocent until proven guilty AND their accusations are valid!

    2. Yeah you’re right. I guess it’s just hard for me to understand because I do let my emotions get in front of the actual legal procedures. That’s why I could never be a lawyer, I just think that if you admit to doing something wrong, many people are accusing you of doing something wrong, then you must’ve done something wrong. My sister always gets annoyed at me because she’s studying to be a lawyer and really keeps with those codes and conversations. With me, it’s just too hard, you know?

    3. I get it - and I totally get the emotions (*restrains urge to rant about Weinstein*) but I also know that me making claims and statements when things aren't proven is a) irresponsible and b) likely to get me sued (thank you A-level Law!)

      I'm especially hesitant because of when you look back at historical injustices where people have been assumed to be guilty (I'm thinking particularly of the murder of a sex-worker named Lynette White here in Wales, where 3 black men were wrongfully arrested and convicted, serving time in prison, before the actual killer was caught years later,) - things aren't always the way they first appear.

    4. Definitely agree! There is an obvious problem with wrongful convictions, which makes the court of law a lot more confusing and difficult.

  2. It sickens me that we can make correlations between Weinstein's behavior and the behavior of my president (since I'm American). How sad is that? So many men believe that it's just acceptable---I think they really truly do. And that is the problem.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Totally agree. Really nothing I can add to that!

      Thanks so much for the comment :)

  3. This whole topic makes me sick every single time. What has been done to women throughout history and all over the world is sickening. The worst part is that we have made believe that it's acceptable and even normal and just to deal with it as our dear president said about his own daughter! She would "endure" harassment as she is "expected" too and because she is "strong" she'll put up with it and "know how to deal with it" DISGUSTING! Great post as usual Cee!

  4. i'm afraid I don't know enough of the facts to comment accurately however, what I do know is that abuse of power towards men or women is not acceptable on any level and maybe this case will highlight the issue and maybe help move a tiny bit towards eradicating this issue #RVHT

    1. Very true! Couldn't have put it better!

      Thanks so much for the comment :)

  5. I strongly believe in presumption of innocence until proven guilty too, but yes, sometimes people get that mixed up and think that means the victims are therefore not worth believing until their cases are "proven" true, and that is also, definitely, not the case either.

  6. This is obviously quite disturbing but I'm unsure why the world is surprised, I remember in the late 90's/early 00's that us was almost accepted that women were getting head for what went on with their bodies. I'm not saying it isn't bad, I just don't know why there wasn't more of a big thing made of it back then, why investigations weren't made. Maybe this practice would have been well and truly over by now if this were the case. It's annoying that there will always be an abuse of power if the opportunity arises xx


    1. Yes, this definitely should have been dealt with previously!

      I think the threats of the damage that can be done to women's careers if they *don't* keep quiet is horrendous - especially to those just starting out in their industries.

      I'm going to assume you meant 'ahead' - because otherwise that sentence gets a little X-rated!

      While it is indeed possible for women to also be manipulators within the system, the system - and the Hollywood system in particular - is slanted against the rights and safety of women. And that's so very, very, sad.

      Thanks so much for the comment! :)


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