But this lack of accountability does not mean that the law doesn’t matter. It means that it matters less than we imagine, because more often than not, people don’t get charged or prosecuted for sexual harassment and assault. Even if they do, there are rarely consequences for those who violate laws designed to protect victims. The system is set up so that most allegations of sexual misconduct can quickly be swept under the rug (or ignored altogether). If you think Harvey Weinstein used his power to commit multiple acts of rape against women in order to advance his career? That he got away with it? Probably; but even though the New York Times reported on decades-old allegations of unwanted groping by Weinstein, he was still able to use his power as a movie producer and film studio head like an unchecked sociopath who gets away with everything.
The number one rule change I’d make would be changing how we view these accusations over time; I know all too well what happens when an accusation becomes public property known only through whisper campaigns: my life went into a slow decline after my parents learned about some things I had said years ago at camp during sleepovers—things which have never been made public before now. And every time someone suggests bringing back “innocent until proven guilty” or arguing that letting go of due process gives accusers more rights than men accused of crimes ever have, I want them to consider everything else being lost in this case