Dereje Amera Personal Posts

Courage or Fear

Posted on: 20 Oct 2017

October 20, 2017

Bob Weinstein, the brother of Harvey Weinstein, was accused of sexual harassment, Variety reports. Amanda Segel, who served as an executive producer on the Weinstein Company drama The Mist, said the film and TV executive made numerous unwanted advances towards her during the show’s production. The allegations come after The New York Times and The New Yorker published massive reports in which numerous women accused Weinstein’s brother Harvey of harassment and assault.

Based on such allegation, various people start conversation and debate in relation to such victims, asking, do victims of sexual harassment have an obligation to speak out? In such conversation and debate, it is possible to tell that there are two opposing groups that deliver opinions based on their experience in life and their own judgment they make. Every opinion should be respected since it has its own truth and value. The beauty of life is the existence of diverse opinions.

When people share similar opinions in life, life would be boring and disinteresting and thus the existence of different opinions that make the look and shape of life in this world to be in good or bad shape as the good wins, the world looks better; and the bad wins, the world will be in ugly shape too. Though good or bad are in cases subjective and contextual. Recently, I also participated in one of the discussion forums, and I have observed and obtained the following two diverse and opposing views of various people in relation to such topic of discussion.

Yes. Obligation is an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment. It is not only women who are victims of sexual harassment, everyone should speak louder for being victimized to any kind of immoral or And the very making of it as an obligation that do have greater probability of inducing certain amount of fear and discouragement on those people who commit bad on others since silence and fear are the ones that encourage those who such bad act on other people even if people who are victim do not speak out louder.

They have to speak out, simply because their stories may prevent those situations in the future. (Good example within the history: for centuries, women were sexually harassed and undervalued. Our old patriarchal society’s paradigm shifted only because the strong Suffragette movement finally managed to talk about the situation openly. Didn’t we have women who suffered because of their fight with an old male establishment at the beginning of the 20th century? The perpetrators of sexual harassment need to speak out! They are the ones who did something wrong and therefore they need to be held accountable and publicly apologize for their actions. Perpetrators have to repent.

No. Victims of sexual harassment have no obligation to speak out. Recounting a traumatic experience will be painful and we should not pass judgment only if when they choose to speak out. Instead we as a society need to speak out when we witness sexual harassment and not let it go unnoticed. If we say victims have an ‘obligation’ to speak out, we push blame onto them. They can if they feel that it can have a role in prevent further mishaps from happening. However there shouldn’t be any such obligation. The person in question has a mental state as well and that cannot be ignored at the cost of a larger good. Being assaulted is enough loss of control as it is.

Unfortunately sexual harassment is an emotive topic which goes beyond sheer logic and legalities. In an ideal world every victim would speak up to stop it happening again but I fear we still live in a world of victim-shaming where the presumption of truth is often with the wrong-doer. A person who has never been through this kind of trauma cannot understand what the event means for the victim. You will never experience the permanent, crushing shame, you will never experience the daily, paralyzing fear. You might not be able to understand that victims might rather want to be dead, than to speak up about their ordeal. So there lies the perversion, It is the victim who bears the shame and the fear, not the offender. The offenders know very well that they are supported and sheltered by society, by our culture of silence.

Based on the above two condition of such life, both contain some truth and the have their own factual views. Both do tell something. The first ones, yes, are from the point of doing something better to the social and common good to the future of the world; the second ones, no, from the point view of protecting victims and preserving their mental and psychological wellbeing, which is true and essential too.

However, in order to stop any given bad practice within any given social dynamics, something should be done. Change does not come by wishes or dreams, fear and silence, but by doing something and putting into action those simple things to complex and sophisticated actions and thinking in every day of people’s life. Chinese say, millions mile journey start from single walk. Thus, people should do something in order to stop something.

Fear and silence cannot bring about any fundamental change to any given social dynamics. Both facilitate wrong doers to do many wrongs in everyday life. Rather, courage and confidence and do something fruitful and both can bring about significant change in the life of human society. Both have costs to pay since they do have their own consequences in life. However, something should be done in this regard in order to change something, otherwise same sheet will go on and no significant change does come.

Individual wellbeing is healthy and good. Social wellbeing is better than any given individual wellbeing. Though social wellbeing is made up of individual wellbeing, there are circumstances and cases that do force individual wellbeing should sacrifice to the common good. The point in here is what and which is worthwhile, is it individual wellbeing or social and common good?


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