The recent treatment of female celebrities who have come forward with abuse allegations reflects a nationwide issue. The idea that only ‘good girls’, or, ‘perfect victims’—i.e. women who behave in demure and perceivably ‘pure’ ways—can be assaulted. This narrative has created a public distrust of female victims of abuse who are seen as ‘bad girls’—women who are less reserved about their sexuality. Sexuality is not the only prerequisite of being a ‘bad girl’. But it is often a trait that appears in women who are doubted about rape and assault.
In 2016 alone, women in the spotlight such as Kesha, Amber Heard, and now Lindsay Lohan, have come forward with allegations of sexual assault and domestic abuse, respectively. Though Kesha’s sexual assault allegations against music producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald have put her music career on hold since 2014, Sony records has stood firmly behind Dr. Luke. Despite musicians voicing support for Kesha through social media, many have doubted her claims, and believe that her allegations are based only on financial gain.
The same has been true for Johnny Depp’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Amber Heard. Though Depp’s drunken, raucous, and violent behavior has been caught on video, and Heard has posted pictures of abuse and reported it when it happened, public opinion has accused Heard of being a gold-digger. Her open bisexuality has been used as a weapon against her, as it has been seen as an incriminating or dishonest character trait.
Lindsay Lohan has also felt the brunt of public scrutiny lately due to public distrust of her assault allegations against ex-fiancé Egor Tarabasov. Lohan’s credibility has been put under fire for her history of drugs, alcohol, excessive partying, and emotional instability. But even after video showing Tarabasov twisting Lohan’s arm behind her back in Mykonos, Greece, major media outlets have hesitated to acknowledge Lohan’s allegations.
Stay tuned for Part 2, exploring how this nationwide issue has affected college sexual assault cases.