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Casey Affleck and the normalization of workplace harassment

Casey Affleck and the normalization of workplace harassment

Casey Affleck, younger brother of A-list star, Ben Affleck, took home the title of Best Actor at the Academy Awards on Sunday for his role in Manchester by the Sea. The win immediately spurred controversy as Affleck is accused of sexually harassing multiple female coworkers while making his 2010 mockumentary, I’m Still Here. One of the unsettled lawsuits involve Affleck climbing into bed with a woman while she was asleep and unaware.

We expect that anyone in violation of workplace harassment rules will be disciplined accordingly, whether that be re-educated or removed from their position. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case and scenarios like Affleck winning an Oscar maintain and enforce the normalization of sexual harassment and violence against women.

In a study conducted by Associates of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), 54 per cent of employees say they have been subject to some type of sexual harassment in the workplace, 79 per cent of those surveyed were women.

These incidents are often unreported and regularly disregarded as being in mere “jest”, the victim being silenced or accused of lacking humour. At any rate, sexual harassment, whether verbal or physical, is ignored in spite of strict legislation put in place to protect workers.

Casey Affleck accepting his Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards.

Affleck’s win affirms some of our greatest fears: sexual harassment is not taken seriously in the workplace and even a man in the spotlight with publicly known lawsuits will still be awarded.

The allegations against Affleck, while not yet proven in court, are indicative of an issue that happens in workplaces worldwide. some are arguing that the allegations should not interfere with his talent as an actor or director.

To be clear, Casey Affleck’s Oscar win is not a story of just a male actor with money getting away with harassment. His win is just one example of a larger issue that happens in grocery stores, office settings, warehouses and arguably any other workplace you can imagine. Casey Affleck should not be given the benefit of “being an actor”. He is a man who sexually harassed coworkers at work, an issue for which there should be zero tolerance in any capacity in any workplace.