In the wake of the growing list of women speaking out about their alleged experiences of sexual harassment and even assault from famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the conversation has inevitably turned to the same question it always does when sexual assault allegations come to light: "Why didn't these women speak up earlier?"
On Tuesday, The New York Times published an article in which Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie alleged that Weinstein sexually harassed them, prompting some people to ask why they waited so long to come forward, blaming them for only speaking up now that it's "convenient" to do so.
But as one commenter on the Times article pointed out, it's much more complicated than that — and there is a system in place that keeps women from reporting harassment or assault.
"It is disheartening to see so many comments already blaming women for not 'speaking up,'" the commenter, who goes only by "K" from Brooklyn, wrote. "The psychology behind this kind of thing is not that complex, so please spare a moment to consider: Not only are these women made to feel humiliated and embarrassed, but in some cases if they had come forward, they not only would never work again, they also would be seen as whiners and 'too sensitive.'"
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, sexual violence survivors don't report those instances for many reasons, namely that they fear retaliation, they believe that the police wouldn't do anything to help, and/or they believe it wasn't important enough to report.
Because of Weinstein's clout in the film world, many of the women who came forward said they stayed silent for so long because they feared that he would use the power he yielded to ruin their careers. Actress Rosanna Arquette told The New Yorker that her career suffered after she rejected Weinstein, and she believes that she lost out on a movie role because of it.
"The amount of cognitive dissonance it must take to blame women for their own persecution is astounding," the commenter wrote. "It is not the women's job to monitor men's behavior. We are doing the best we can with what we have to survive in a world that depends on our subjugation."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Read these stories next: