Men in positions of power build sexual pressure on women underlings simply because they know they can get away with it. At best, this is sexual harassment. In its culmination, this could lead to rape. Sounds familiar? A little too much.
Ever since the #MeToo movement resonated all over the world, loud and proud, poignant and heart-breaking stories of sexual harassment have been all over our news feeds like wildfire. What started with Harvey Weinstein, involving big names (such as Kevin Spacey and Louis CK) and opening the conversation about others accused of sexual harassment in the past (such as Dustin Hoffman and George Bush), has now reached the seemingly immaculate quarters of the Nobel Prize committee. Specifically in relation to a man called Jean-Claude Arnault, a member of the academy and one of the people on the team that chooses a winner for the Nobel Prize for Literature every year.
Arnault has been accused of sexually assaulting and groping at least 18 women over the course of the past 20 years. As a result of major pushback and academy members withdrawing their names from deliberations (there was no provision to resign until now as all members have been named for life), the academy announced that it wouldn’t be naming a winner for the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. As per their press release, this is so that “the Swedish Academy will now put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility as a prize-awarding institution and that the Academy will report the concrete actions that are undertaken.”
The Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 has been postponed. The Nobel Foundation supports the Swedish Academy’s decision. Press release: https://t.co/eayNN3YgYv
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) May 4, 2018
Sexual harassment at the workplace is something that became so common over the years that it had to take a worldwide movement to call it out before it normalised its place in the society. It had to have scores of survivors speaking out, risking all they had, to raise awareness about its deviant nature. It has become the need of the hour to delve deep into the whys and hows.
Why do men in power exercise their authority to wring out sexual favours? Why do they think it’s okay to do that? How excruciating would the circumstances be for a woman to have to give in? What made them think their abusive power over them was far superior to their ability to speak up? With the latest in a series of news stories about sexual harassment and abuse on the rise, it indeed is time to stop shying away from these questions and take the onus to find solutions. If not for obvious reasons, then for logical ones: in the Nobel academy scandal, a woman had to take the fall for the misdeeds of a man.
For their part, not giving out the award at all instead of arbitrarily choosing a winner to fulfil formalities was a great decision by the Nobel committee. More than preserving their sanctity, it gives out the message that they hear you and are willing to take bold decisions to be on the ‘right’ side of things in today’s times. If no abuser feels safe, then that’s a great world we would’ve achieved.