Two weeks on from the New York Times report exposing sexual harassment and assault spanning the last three decades, there will not be a corner of the world that remains in the dark about Hollywood’s culture of harassment – and the man under the spotlight – Harvey Weinstein.
Scores of Hollywood stars have come out with allegations against him since the news was broken by the New York Times. Stars with such illustrious names as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rose McGowan and Cara Delevigne have come out and accused Weinstein of assaulting them in the wake of this story being broken.
But what does it say about Hollywood as a global institution that this activity has only been exposed three decades after it began?
Joe Biden (Former US Vice-President) this week stated that he felt that sexual assault is about power, and the action of asserting dominance over someone, more than it is about sex. The length of time taken to uncover the extent of Weinstein’s depraved actions suggests one of two things; either the board at Weinstein Co were unaware of his behaviour and the purported silence payments that he made to the victims, or they kept this information a secret to protect company interests. The latter is extremely disconcerting, though the reports that Weinstein’s brother Bob is also facing sexual assault charges suggests that perhaps this is a case of secrecy in order to protect public interests.
Another cause for concern here is the online response to this issue. Tweets from men who describe themselves as “a man with a wife” or “a man with a daughter” before condemning Weinstein only serves to exacerbate this problem.
The moral justification for these responses seem to be that these people feel that they are protecting their loved ones, or at least are seen to be protecting their loved ones.
The alarming reality is that these people have just revealed themselves to be lacking any kind of empathy for victims unless it positively serves them. Any human being with even an ounce of common decency understands that sexual harassment and abuse is wrong irrespective of who the victim is. They understand that you do not need to have a child, wife, sister, or any other form of female relationship to see that all forms of violence and oppression towards women, and men, particularly those mentioned above, have no place in society at any level.
This reaction also suggests, again rather disconcertingly, that these men have no real sense of respect for women, unless it directly or indirectly affects them. This issue is bigger than your ego, and the more people realise this, the more chance we have at an open, impartial, level playing field where men and women can thrive together.
If you or anyone you know have been affected by the issues raised in this article then seek out the following helplines: