Sunday night, while the stars filed into the Dolby Theatre for an Oscars ceremony that awarded an alleged rapist and an alleged domestic abuser, protesters gathered a few blocks away in hopes of ensuring that accusers have a better chance at justice.
The Rally Against Rape Culture, a.k.a. #OscarsSoComplicit, convened at Hollywood and LaBrea, and its message was simple and clear: statutes of limitation should be entirely eliminated in cases of rape and sexual assault. Organized by the Campaign to Abolish Statutes of Limitation on Rape and Sexual Assault (CASOL), its speakers included CASOL executive director Chelsea Byers and Victoria Valentino, the former Playboy playmate who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping her in 1969, when she was 26.
The significance of protesting during the Oscars was clear—the Weinstein accusations have, as a matter of course, unearthed an unending well of parallel accusations, some dating back decades. But CASOL itself originated in the End Rape SOL campaign, a grassroots movement started by iconic feminist activist Ivy Bottini in 2015, meant to abolish these statutes in California. After it successfully did so in late 2016, CASOL was formed in an effort to take that effort national. Currently, there are statutes of limitations for rape in 34 states, ranging from three to 30 years.
On the Facebook page for the protest, CASOL laid out their demands:
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has failed to meet the demands of the #MeToo movement for a swift reckoning with the truth. Countless predators are shielded by Academy membership and on March 4th, millions will tune in live to their award show.
According to RAINN, 2 out of 3 survivors of sexual violence do not report their experience due to victim-blaming/predator shielding and pitifully low rates of prosecution and conviction. This culture of silence has been largely exposed in this moment of #MeToo. Because the criminal justice system was not created with these considerations, it functions as a shield predators for from accountability and systematically denies victims justice. Our cultural institutions are responsible for enabling this cycle.
We call upon the Academy to recognize their role in eradicating rape culture. We demand the Academy expel known predators to ensure justice for survivors.
But it was perhaps the Handmaids who said it all.