By now, you all might have pretty much heard about multiple women exposing how Chris D'Elia, the comedian had made them uncomfortable when they were minors.
In case you haven't, have a look at Simone's (@girlpowertbh) tweet here:
imagine being 16 and being groomed by a stand up comedian twice ur age and the only reason you never met up and never got physically m*lested was because u had just gotten a boyfriend ur own age pic.twitter.com/xq7XDrat8i— simoné (@girlpowertbh) June 16, 2020
In a statement published on People, Simone revealed how she is not the only one with such accounts about the stand-up comedian, with many other women coming with their own accounts of being approached by this celebrity figure online and smothered with creepy comments, despite the women indicating their discomfort with the same.
This prompted many to dig out clips and instances of Chris D'Elia making creepy comments at various instances.
From saying that "14 year old girls look like 30 today", to "I want to follow Miley Cyrus but I feel weird because she is underage. I'm 29. I can't follow a 16-year-old. Even on the internet," Chris d'Elia has left no stoned unturned for many of us to think that perhaps he was playing himself in real life on the popular Netflix series, You.
It was not surprising to see how many people launched to condemn the minor girls for speaking out. The comments ranged from, "why speak up now", to "why did you reply to his texts", and "e-mails and screenshots can be forged, I do not believe any of this".
Only a culture accepting of such behavior can witness time repeat itself, so many times.
Chris D'Elia has denied the allegations. He has accepted that he might have "offended' people during his career, but denies knowing their age.
This, despite screenshots revealing that he knew Simone was in high school, and one girl had disclosed her age according to the screenshots, but he still kept on messaging her with requests for sexual favors.
Alright y’all, I went back to my 2011 Facebook messenger and found the DMs from Chris D’Elia being creepy and persistent to me when I was 17 (more in thread) pic.twitter.com/mGr0IikcJT— Abby Grills (@AGrillz) June 17, 2020
Many comments also asked for explanations as to why the minor girls were interacting with the 30-year-old celebrity AT ALL, instead of asking the 30-year-old celebrity why was he approaching minor girls online despite their persistent refusal, and why did he release this feeble apology-cum-blame shifting when several women came out with their experiences.
The more we question the intention and validity of survivors' experiences, the more we enable a space that gives benefit of doubt to the accused. This is what makes survivors of sexual harassment not speak up in the first place.
We never stopped D'Elia, or many other famous and non-famous people for that matter, from being "casually" sexist, "sleezy", and pushy. We let it pass, and we created a culture that made people on the receiving end doubt their feelings of discomfort, and hence never report it.
We created another layer of inaccessibility to many marginalisations, and enabled people like Chris D'Elia to thrive for so long.
One refreshing thing that I noticed was the incredible amount of support and solidarity that these women have received. Amidst the comments have been of those who admitted that they might have blamed the girls a few years back, but have now realised the reality of power imbalances.
This is important to note especially in the context of movements like #MeToo spiralled by Tarana Burke, and the power of change. Comments and behaviors that were normalized earlier are no longer known to be acceptable, and more and more young people are becoming aware of their sexual, political and social rights.
From the high school athletic locker rooms to dude nights, there is a pressure instilled to "man up", to objectify bodies of women and non-men by rating them, to talk of sex in a way that doesn't take into account consent and inclusiveness - all of this partakes in a sexual assault culture that results in establishment of strong power dynamics.
Promoting a sex-positive atmosphere which values consent, honest communication, boundaries, agency and debunking gendered and binary stereotypes is needed to not enable, or give power to people or these acts.
Image Source: WikiMedia Commons