Did it really happen? A question we don’t know for sure but want to somehow say no because how could our beloved idols do such heinous and callous acts? It must be the victim’s fault, right? It can’t be the celebrities as we continue to victim blame and unknowingly cater to ruin someone’s life. And of course, continue to keep their mouths shut while someone else is being victimized, and so on.
Where does one stand? Fear of destroying someone’s career or knocking it down based on those who have been coming forward? Meanwhile, it may be rare (less than 10%), but there have also been false accusations, which sadly never helps the #MeToo movement. It only gives sexual predators credibility on keeping the illusion that they “didn’t” do it.
Let’s start with Hollywood. For example, I never wanted to believe the rumors behind Michael Jackson. I also grew up on Miramax films founded by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein that eventually branched out to another independent film company, The Weinstein Company, after Disney purchased Miramax back in the nineties. Harvey has well over 300 credits to his name, which at one point, I didn’t want to watch any of those films considering the series of sexual abuse cases.
It became nauseating to watch the film Kill Bill 2 again when I had the opportunity to watch it at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and met the late David Carradine (he confessed he made the best coffee ever!). Weinstein’s name is also attached to the 2003 film Cold Mountain, which started a new trend in post-production as it was finished using Final Cut Pro instead of the industry standard, AVID.
We live in an imperfect world. Now it’s also difficult to watch the film American Beauty, one of my all-time favorites is now tainted because of Kevin Spacey’s accusations, which he was considered one of my favorite actors. The list of celebrities you hear behind the #MeToo movement is shocking, and the history goes back decades. I honestly don’t know what’s real or fake anymore, as there’s a blurred line between it all, including the unknown.
However, people have remained silent about letting this behavior continue due to fear of exposing a well-known celebrity or politician. Let’s not forget about the two Coreys. Corey Feldman survived and has become an activist, and Haim died in 2010 from pneumonia. However, their story remained hidden and ignored for quite some time as Feldman has been more outspoken over the years on Hollywood’s serious problem with pedophilia.
The more I read about the history of sexual misconduct, the more disgusted and repulsed I get. It feels as though my entire life is based on a lie. Movies I’ve adored, actors I admired, have more or less been criminals, and I didn’t want to believe it. Now, what does this have to do with metal? Everything.
Within the last few weeks, I’ve kept quiet, reading in disgust about sexual misconduct cases involving Homewrecker, Attila, CJ McCreery (ex-Lorna Shore), and Austin Carlile (ex-Of Mice & Men). Once again, it makes me wonder how many artists have gotten away with this behavior.
Many continue to rationalize how this can’t be true, and x person must be out to destroy this celebrity’s career. The most frustrating fact is: WE DON’T KNOW. It’s all based on he said/she said. We can only assume and believe, but we do NOT know. And neither will THOUSANDS of victims’ voices that remain silent because the truth remains unclear without visible evidence.
More cases have been dismissed or didn’t even start than people being charged. Look at President Donald Trump. He has well over twenty accusations against him and we all heard the “grab ’em by the pussy” video, and somehow, he still became the 45th President of the United States. And that right there is terrifying.
Why does this behavior appear acceptable, and we end up bashing the victims? Yelling at them with comments such as, “well you didn’t resist?,” “Look at the skirt you were wearing, of course, you were asking for it,” “you just want to ruin his career.” and so forth. Meanwhile, all of this gives sexual predators fuel to do this again, and again, and again; because they’ve gotten away with it for years.
What aggravates me the most is the lack of humility and empathy. If someone did it, why can’t they step up and admit to the truth? Just think how many lives could have been saved? Being a victim of sexual misconduct doesn’t go away overnight, in a few years, or months. For most, it never goes away. Similar to those who were physically or mentally abused, it DOESN’T GO AWAY. Yet, many abusers and sex offenders somehow find a way to turn the tables around as though they are the victim by being “falsely accused.” Yes, I get it, there are occasions when someone is falsely accused, but the majority ends up having a more disturbing result.
Instead of rushing out each story on artists who have recently been accused, I took a few steps back, did some research, and decided to write this opinion piece instead. I wanted to look at this with an unbiased view just to have more of an understanding. Sadly, the results are even more shocking.
Perpetrators tend to find the most vulnerable since they believe they can get away with it. This also includes drugging their victim(s) and giving them the inability to know what’s happening. Following these heinous actions, what happens next is the perpetrators will go into a cognitive distortion to minimize or find a way to justify their actions to the point they believe in their own lies claiming their innocence.
Sexual misconduct isn’t just rape; it’s an umbrella of actions such as rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and conduct that is carried out without the victim’s consent, including “grabbing them by the pussy.”
Sadly, I keep coming up with cognitive distortions and can’t stop connecting it with (not all) but many statements I’ve read over the years when accusers have continued to deny their actions. It’s as though their memory has faded and shifted to make one appear innocent despite what actually happened.
The way society has been over the years or what seemed “acceptable” or normal can get confusing. I’ve personally heard grown men tell me, “I fucked a 16-year-old,” “I was with a girl before she graduated High School.” I also heard people say, “the younger one is hotter.” I grew up hearing these horrific statements that when people’s reactions were equally disturbing, thinking it was funny or even being praised. I’ve personally dodged a few bullets of my own when I was young, and these thoughts haunt me every day many years later.
Psychcentral listed a few cognitive distortions out and made me understand a few things. When someone has been victimized, they will end up overgeneralizing their life, thinking bad things will always happen to them due to the one incident. In short, when someone physically or sexually abuses them, their life is destroyed, and it’s difficult for many to come out of it. They can and will live the rest of their lives out of fear, thinking they are worthless, and somehow blame themselves for the action.
The perpetrator tends to jump to conclusions, which leads to them always believing they are right. The perpetrator also turns to blame. Since he or she continues to believe they’re right, it must be the victim’s fault, “how dare” he or she accuse him/her of x,y,z. It’s their cognitive behavior to be in control and in power of the situation.
Psychology Today summed it up well on how denial and victim-blaming keep sexual assault hidden as they used the disturbing case behind Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics Team doctor, and how he initially got away with being a sex offender. Learning from one case, sexual assault often remains hidden due to a combination of denial, manipulation, and confusion.
Sadly, with metal, movies, and all things we love, it instantly appears heartbreaking to believe the accusations. People go above and beyond to proclaim their idol is innocent. Similar to patterns of a narcissist or sociopath, the psychological power of manipulation to the public eye can make someone appear charming, successful, and caring. It’s difficult to turn off the opinion that was already formulated years ago to believe the accusations that took place in our hero’s private life. Another reason for denial is the simple belief that nothing bad can happen, and the world we live in is safe, loving, and filled with Disney movie happy endings.
There’s a degree of victim-blaming happening that instead of questioning the accuser, people ask why the victim went for a nighttime jog or wore clothing that was too revealing, why she drank so much, etc. Meanwhile, continue to ignore the questions that SHOULD have been asked: why did someone get away with this, and how many?
Another factor is, victims are told there will be consequences for telling the truth, and their lives would be even more destroyed if they spoke out, which continues to keep them silent. Despite the #MeToo movement’s surge in 2017 (after the term was first used in 2006), there’s a very long road ahead before justice can finally happen. Look at Jeffery Epstein and the conspiracies behind him. Did he kill himself? Which politicians, celebrities, and high profile figures were involved in his sex ring? No one knows for sure as it remains hidden. As the powerful continue to conceal the truth, that can make others feel they can get away with it. Remember: one in every 200 rapes results in a conviction or incarceration. The #MeToo movement is just the beginning to let the truth reveal itself.
Now is the time to stop protecting our idols and protect each other by taking these reports seriously. The truth needs to be heard. Yes, this is all controversial, and it’s time to speak out and stop sexual misconduct. Enough is enough with victim-blaming. You may ask, why haven’t people spoken up sooner? Well, the MeToo movement has helped that, but there are many reasons why voices remain silent: denial, minimization, fear of the consequences, fear no one will believe them, and shame. Another reason is that this happened to them before. The crime took place when the victim already felt powerless and traumatized.
Yes, the truth is scary and sometimes more difficult to believe than the lies being told and hidden. Then you may ask, “why didn’t so and so resist?” Sometimes, when you are surrounded in fear or don’t want to get killed, you end up freezing or having an out of body experience as though you are watching yourself get abused, and the feeling is so surreal that you become physically impaired to speak or move. It’s scary.
Another trend on why this happens is all about having power and being in control. These two items are a significant trend in Hollywood, politics, and music. The bigger the artist, the bigger the ego, etc.. the more they feel in power, entitled and can get away with anything as they prey on the vulnerable because they can easily scare them from speaking the truth.
This trauma can last a lifetime for someone. I remember I spoke to a woman years ago who had a history of sexual abuse that she would have uncontrollable emotional outbursts, crying out “no” and “stop” when nothing was happening to her at the moment. It was some random trigger like the mundane sound of putting butter on toast. The bottom line is, lives continue to be ruined and damaged from sexual misconduct. Others go into self-destructive behaviors including drugs and alcohol, feel that’s their life, and they remain useless and powerless, so what’s the point?
Meanwhile, many blame the victims because how could our heroes, our idols, do such a thing? I also stumbled upon something called “rape myths.” It’s disturbing and the fact that anyone thinks this way has to be out of their mind, which are all related to cognitive distortions:
(a) women ask for sex by the way they dress and behave, (b) they enjoy being raped, (c) women are raped only by strangers, (d) women could avoid being raped if they really wanted to, (e) women cry rape for revenge on powerful men, (f) rapists are crazy or psychotic (“animals” is a word that is often used), and (g) most rapists are “different,” “not like us.”
Women, men, trans, and nonbinary get constantly harassed, and it’s not OK. We see this from our friends sharing screenshots on social media, through private conversations and also see it when someone shares a photo of themselves and receives an inappropriate comment. Unfortunately, this more or less happens daily. And what can we do to stop it? I suggest, learn to respect, report, and no longer be silent about these actions.
Metal is supposed to be a safe space to get away from our daily lives and join together through music and expression. Look out for your metal brothers and sisters, and if you see any of this behavior happen, whether it’s your friend, stranger, brother, or band member, speak up about it. Don’t let this behavior continue.
Now, I am in no position to say anyone did or didn’t do what they are being accused of. It’s frustrating, but all I can say is, I hope the truth comes out. I hope people will stop denying something that they’ve done. I also hope false reporting ends as well, which takes away from the #MeToo movement. I’m not saying any of these are incorrect, I’m merely saying I don’t know what to believe anymore.
It’s scary. Even our closest friends can get confused from a story claiming it wasn’t sexual assault. Unfortunately, this could be because they’ve been keeping their own story hidden. Sad and scary, right? Sometimes it takes years to realize what really happened. Now I can go on with statistics as there are countless documentation, articles, and books on sexual misconduct. But I wanted to highlight some pointers as we need to work together instead of against each other.
For more information and ways you can help:
Just search this hashtag on Twitter to see the amount of cases: #MeToo
The next portion are the sexual misconduct allegations that developed during the month of June (so far):