Harvey Weinstein Revealed as Sexual Predator

[Content Note: Rape culture; description of sexual assault.]

Harvey Weinstein, the powerhouse film producer, is a sexual predator. This has been one of those "open secrets" for many, many years. There have been countless blind items on gossip sites about it; it was widely presumed that Rose McGowan's rape allegation was about Weinstein; and Ambra Battilana accused Weinstein of sexual assault, though no charges were brought "in part because of her credibility issues." Of course.

Anyone who knows a woman pursuing acting is probably two degrees (or less) away from having heard stories about Weinstein's plethoric abuse, coercion, manipulation, and attempted exploitation of aspiring actresses.

And yet. It was only today, in the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and seventeen, that the New York Times finally published a piece about his decades of abuse (complete with a photo of Weinstein with Hillary Clinton, captioned: "Harvey Weinstein and Hillary Clinton in 2012. Mr. Weinstein held a fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton at his Manhattan home last year.").

The headline on the piece by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey is: "Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein." (Reminder: Most reporters don't write their own headlines.) But one of the very first incidents recounted in the piece is a sexual assault: "The following year, once again at the Peninsula, a female assistant said Mr. Weinstein badgered her into giving him a massage while he was naked, leaving her 'crying and very distraught,' wrote a colleague, Lauren O'Connor, in a searing memo asserting sexual harassment and other misconduct by their boss."

There is a lot of documentation of Weinstein's "decades" of abuse in the article — and the question with which any decent person should be left is: How was this allowed to go on for so long?

Because it wasn't just his victims who knew: "During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity."

Eight settlements.

Including Rose McGowan and Ambra Battilana.

And that, of course, leads us to the answer to the question any decent person should be asking: The reason it was allowed to go on for so long is because powerful men retaining their power is more important than women's safety or peace or self-worth or very lives, and it's unfathomably easy to protect those men because the purveyors of the rape culture have cultivated and nurture an impenetrable culture of disbelief, used to silence and discredit and revictimize survivors.

Thus, my headline is not: Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator. This I already knew, because I listen to women and I believe them.

All the New York Times did was reveal what was a known truth to me, and lots of other people.

I take up space in solidarity with the women who survived being victimized by Harvey Weinstein, and in utter contempt of the people who abetted his decades of predation and harm.

As for Weinstein himself, he's blaming "the culture" of the '60s and '70s, as though no man or woman had any way of knowing that sexual abuse was wrong then, and he's taking a leave of absence with a team of people tasked with helping him learn that women are human beings or whatever.

Which is all a familiar refrain. He didn't know. He just needs the help of a supportive community. He's so sorry; it was just a mistake.

The fuck it was.

If there is one thing I desperately hope people understand from my 13 years of writing about the rape culture, it is this: Sexual abuse does not happen by accident. It is not a misunderstanding. Hostility to consent is not a bug; it's a feature. It's the entire point.

The only people who benefit from extending good will and the benefit of the doubt to a sexual predator are sexual predators. It will never, ever, prevent a single incident of sexual harassment, assault, and/or violence. It will, however, enable many.

Harvey Weinstein knows all of this. And if anyone should be inclined to believe his sad-sack story, let me remind you that he is in the professional storytelling business, and he is one of the best.

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