Feels: Casey Affleck’s Oscar Win Was A Loss For Women

By Jenna Stoyanov

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Besides the infamous Best Picture mix up, one of the biggest shocks of the 2017 Academy Awards was that Casey Affleck won the Oscar for Best Actor. He beat out “La La Land’s” Ryan Gosling, arguably not a difficult task, but he also toppled the phenomenal Denzel Washington, who blew audiences away with his soul-bearing performance in “Fences.”



In case you didn’t know, Affleck was accused of sexually harassing two women that worked with him on the 2010 project “I’m Still Here.” One of the women, cinematographer Magdalena Gorka, reported that Affleck drunkenly climbed into her bed and became angry when she asked him to leave. Producer Amanda White alleged that Affleck told another crew member to show her his genitals. White also claimed that Affleck asked her to stay in his hotel room with him, and “grabbed her” when she declined his offer.


Affleck fiercely denied these allegations. The cases never made it to court, as Affleck quickly chose to settle.


Let’s get the obvious out of the way: A white man’s career isn’t harmed when he is accused of sexual harassment or assault (just look at our president). For whatever reason (aka misogyny), men are almost always forgiven for their sexual misconduct, no matter how public it is. Casey Affleck, Johnny Depp, Woody Allen, Mel Gibson and Roman Polanski (actually went to jail then fled the country, but is somehow still winning awards) are just a few of the white men that have been accused of some degree of sexual misconduct.


Just last year an interview surfaced in which Bernardo Bertolucci, director of “Last Tango in Paris,” revealed that he and Marlon Brando conspired to add butter to a previously planned scene where Brando’s character rapes Maria Schneider’s character. They didn’t inform the actress of the addition, instead choosing to surprise her. Bertolucci wanted to get “her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. [He] wanted her to react humiliated.”


This sickening plot to sexually assault a woman with butter was done simply because the director wanted an unplanned reaction. Schneider herself said she “felt a little raped” and that the tears she cried on screen were real. Despite this blatant disregard for a woman’s wellbeing and autonomy, I still regularly see Brando praised as an artist, as opposed to the abuser he is.


Affleck, while he didn’t sexually abuse a woman on screen, has been accused of crimes in the same vein. Just because his allegations were less severe, he isn’t any less of an abuser. He was obviously able to maintain his reputation as he went on to star in multiple films since the allegations.


Affleck is commonly portrayed as a quirky, aloof man, reluctantly thrown into the spotlight. He’s just conventionally attractive enough to merit a few magazine covers. And somehow, he’s able to hide his sexual assault allegations behind his greasy hair.


To make things more heartbreaking, Brie Larson, an outspoken activist for victims of sexual violence, had to present him with his award. You could tell just by looking at her body language that she was disappointed in The Academy’s decision. Larson, along with a handful of other people, were some of the few Hollywood stars to condemn Affleck.



Remember, this is the same Hollywood that openly criticizes President Donald Trump, the self-admitted “pussy grabber.” They’re always calling him a vile man (for many reasons besides assaulting women) but they turn around and give awards to men like Casey Affleck and Mel Gibson.


Hollywood continues to protect and award men that are a part of their elite circle, no matter how they treat women. Time and time again we see women’s voices being ignored, both on and off the screen. To this day, only one woman, Katheryn Bigelow, has ever won Best Director. This systematic misogyny shouldn’t be a huge surprise, as many films can’t even pass the simple Bechdel test.


While sexual abusers can continue to win awards and garner fame, their victims must look on, constantly reliving the traumatic moment that man chose to violate them. If the victims try and speak up about what happened, people will quickly dismiss their claims as a greedy attempt at fame.


Unfortunately, Affleck’s win just reaffirms that the careers of white men take precedence over a woman’s dignity. It’s a trope that we’ve seen again and again. A woman can have her entire well-being violated by a man, and she must suffer from the mental repercussions, physical trauma, and social stigma. A white man can abuse a woman, remain virtually unharmed by any allegations brought against him, and still manage to walk away with a Grammy, Academy Award, or Presidency.