Matt Lauer was once a staple for mornings in households across the country. However, accusations of sexual misconduct have begun filing against the former news anchor, which have all but destroyed his reputation. Brooke Nevils, a television producer, accused Lauer of raping her while they were on assignment covering the 2014 Sochi Olympics. After the initial complaint was filed, NBC fired Lauer promptly. Lauer now claims that this accusation is incorrect and that he and Nevils shared a consensual sexual relationship. His apology went on to confirm that he had an affair with Nevils, and that he had previously admitted to having said affair. Nevils confirmed part of his statement by agreeing that they had shared a consensual sexual relationship at times, but during the Sochi Olympics he had taken advantage of her while she was intoxicated and unable to give her consent.
The situation that transpired between Lauer and Nevils following the Sochi Olympics embodies the idea of a cultural norm. Nevils experienced sexual assault and was afraid to report it in fear of losing her job or having her career suffer from the consequences. Lauer assaulted Nevils and went on with his life as if there wasn’t a problem with his actions. This is a common issue with powerful males in today’s culture that has been increasingly more popular as time goes on. However, in today’s society, we have been able to observe women reporting the assaults that have happened to them and having their offenders get properly reprimanded. This is a norm in our society because it is something that happens almost daily, and it has gotten to the point where upon reading the news it is no longer shocking to read stories of sexual assault accusations. The interaction has become normalized by our society.
Lauer and Nevils also embody an example of gender roles. Nevils was fearful at the thought of filing her accusation because of the way it would negatively impact her and her career. Lauer was almost able to continue being the star of the Today Show and have the ability to hurt countless other people because his victim was scared to accuse him. This coincides with the roles that men and women typically play in theses scenarios; women living in constant fear over their assault while their male perpetrators walk free as if nothing happened. There are exceptions to this stereotypical relationship of sorts, but nonetheless Lauer and Nevils showcase this by embodying the idea that the victim, which is most often the women, is expected to move past it and coexist with their assaulter. In this case, Lauer and Nevils were coworkers, and Nevils was expected to return to work on a daily basis to work alongside the man who caused her intense damage.
Sexual assault is no longer an acceptable cultural norm and the reaction to younger generations showcases the fact that situations similar to the one regarding Matt Lauer and Brooke Nevils will no longer be considered tolerable. The idea that a woman can undergo a traumatic experience such as what Nevils had to experience and feel as if she has to live with it in secret out of fear for her career is simply unacceptable. As much as it is a shame that these situations happen almost on a regular basis, it is rather cathartic to know that they are being handled with more respect and more seriously than in the past. This is an interesting way to consider the idea that cultural norms shift over time, and with this shift associated roles change as well.
Abbruzzese, J. (2019, October 9). Matt Lauer denies sexual assault allegation. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1064206.