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August 04, 2022 4 min read

THE STARS ARE FALLING-PUBLIC OPINION ON CELEBRITY SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The New York Times' investigations exposed decades of sexual harassment charges against Harvey Weinsteinin October 2017. Women came public with allegations against the Hollywood tycoon. Weinstein was sacked from his company and banished from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Women are empowered to share  #MeToo stories in the post-Weinstein era. The allegations against the producer inspired a barrage of allegations against high-profile men in politics and the media, with varying ramifications. This article assesses how Americans felt about the claims, the perpetrator's employment and career prospects, and sexual encounters. 

Public opinion On Celebrity Sexual Harassment

Ninety-nine percent of respondents stated they were aware of allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent men. The matter sparked a public debate in society. More than 27 million people have shared the 8,000 online news on sexual misconduct charges on Facebook since Weinstein’s allegations. 1 of 48% of Americans obtains news from Facebook. Thirteen percent indicated they " very closely" followed breaking sexual misconduct news, while 50% replied, "somewhat closely." 1% stated they had "not at all" followed the story.

The public was aware of the sex assault charges against Bill Cosby, with 93% indicating they were aware, seconded by President Trump, Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. The claims against Bill Cosby, including rape, substance-facilitated sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and child sexual abuse, go further. The timeliness of the charges had less impact on public awareness than the celebrity status of the accused. For example, one woman accused film producer Brett Ratner of rape. Allegations of Kevin Spacey's inappropriate behavior toward actor Anthony Rapp surfaced. Despite being accused of identical misbehavior, the Spacey scandal is five times more known than Ratner's.

Public Affiliation Divides Trust In Sexual Misconduct Allegations

The deluge of sexual misconduct allegations against renowned men has sparked campaigns like Time's Up and #MeToo. These communities use social media to gather sexual violence survivors' tales and raise awareness across societies. More than 4.7 million individuals used #MeToo in 24hours on Facebook. #MeToo, Time's Up and the "Believe Women" movement are gaining traction. People have accused them of encouraging a witch hunt – a campaign that weakens the cause by focusing on well-known men whose actions do not equate to sexual harassment.

60% of the respondents replied yes when the public was asked if they believed sexual harassment charges in the media were factual and unexaggerated. The important determinant in conviction was political affiliation: 76% of Democrats believed the claims were genuine, compared to 45% of Republicans, due to Hollywood's bias. How many charges of sexual harassment against a public figure would be required to convince people that the accused was " guilty?” Thirty-eight percent of respondents couldn't put a figure on it because they'd never assume culpability without more than a verbal account or couldn't pinpoint their point.

Shattered Reputations In The Court Of Public Opinion

The public was asked to give their opinion on each figure ranked from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most favorable. Bill Cosby was regarded as the family man, and he received an average score of eight out of ten. He slipped to one after the accusations. Bill O'Reilly and President Donald Trump are now ranked one, despite being rated three before being accused of sexual harassment and assault. The gravity of a celebrity's sex assault claims and how they taint the public's perception depends on what he did or didn't do; it also depends on how liked or disliked.

The magnitude of the allegations impacts the public's perception of whether or not a celebrity will be pardoned for their claimed conduct. Forgiveness may be shown by the people, accusers, or the accused's family and friends. Seventy-five percent of persons knowledgeable of the allegations felt Ben Affleck would be pardoned for the event on TRL; he touched the hostess' breast. One in ten people thinks Harvey Weinstein would be pardoned. Therefore his fate is less assured. Kevin Spacey has a greater than 1 probability of being forgiven, similar to Bill O'Reilly and Matt Lauer.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations Damage People’s Enjoyment Of Art

People stereotype an actor portraying a villain in a show as a monster in future roles, supposing he is accused of a sexual crime in real life. The charges can taint his body of work - seeing his face on television can convert him into a demon in any role, leaving the admirers to distinguish between the art and the artist boycotting the artist's work. 59% of the public thought it was difficult to enjoy his work after a prominent individual was accused of sexual misbehavior. It jumped to 82%  if he was convicted. Women were more likely than males to be impacted by the art produced by accused men.

The Bottom Line

Thousands of incidences of sexual misbehavior in the entertainment sector have been revealed due to the Weinstein effect. No one knows what the long-term consequences will be, but the Weinstein Effect is causing people to reconsider their encounters. Thirty-four percent of women said the revelations made them rethink if they'd been victims, while 22 percent of males said the exposes made them rethink if their previous actions were considered obscene misconduct. Women worldwide hope that once-untouchable sexual predators and abusers have a taste of their own medicine through articles like this.

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