Men Who Are Bullies Hurt Women

[Content Note: Toxic masculinity; abuse.]

Harvey Weinstein is a serial sex predator, and lots of people who worked with him claim they didn't know.

Okay. For a moment, let's just take them at their word that they neither had personal knowledge of nor ever heard any of the loudly whispered rumors of Weinstein's decades-long predation and exploitation.

Then we're left with this: Decades of public reports about Weinstein's infamously rageful temper.

In 2002, Ken Auletta wrote a nearly 15,000-word piece for the New Yorker about Weinstein's behavior: "Those who have been witness to his outbursts, public and private, describe not a lovable rogue but, rather, a man with little self-control, whose tone of voice and whose body language can seem dangerous; at times, he appears about to burst with fury, his fists closed, his teeth clenched, his large head shaking as he loses the struggle to contain himself."

Auletta recounts anecdote after anecdote of Weinstein's abusive behavior threaded through strands of justification: He is a genius, passionate, a savvy businessman, an auteur. (In case you haven't heard.)

It is perhaps the most exhaustive — and exhausting — entry among the many submissions of similar theme, in the cottage industry that is (was) publishing articles about Weinstein's fiery temper, exposing the bully while simultaneously flattering him.

For at least 15 years, then, Weinstein's spectacular ill temper and shameless mistreatment of his collaborators has been known. Extensively documented.

And the observation I want to make is this: Men who behave like that abuse women.

Because I am 100% certified uncharitable, I state that as fact, without caveat or exception.

There doesn't exist a man who rages at his colleagues, humiliates his employees, does not believe there exists another human being who can earn permanent excusal from his withering contempt, and doesn't abuse women. Because women are part of that life. Professionally and personally. They are abused like men in the abusive mogul's orbit are abused.

And when it is also a man who, as George Clooney described Weinstein, "was very powerful [and] had a tendency to hit on young, beautiful women, sure," that man doesn't check his rage and bullying and entitlement at the door of his hotel suite.

He carries that with him everywhere. He carries it with him into his sexualized interactions with women.

Clooney also said:
Think about it this way, too: I had knock-down, drag-out fights with him over the years, but he was also making films that other studios weren't willing to make, and he was making films that everybody loved, so you just put up with certain bad behavior because you felt like, well, if he yells and screams but he gets Pulp Fiction made, who cares if he yells and screams? But it's a very different conversation when you say, it's not that he yells and screams but that he's cornering a young, scared lady in a restaurant and telling her to stand there and be quiet while he jerks off. That's a very different kind of behavior, and had that been a public thing, I think there would have been some different results. I hope there would be.
It's actually not a "very different kind of behavior" at all. To the absolute contrary, the behavior is exactly the same. What's different is that George Clooney is a man whom Weinstein viewed as a business associate, not a woman whom Weinstein viewed as an object for his consumption.

The problem isn't really that men (and women) of influence in the industry "didn't know" that Weinstein was sexually abusing women because they'd never seen evidence of it. The problem is that they didn't — like most people don't — understand that a powerful man with an outsized temper and a predilection for chasing women is inevitably abusing some of those women.

The problem is that we collectively refuse to admit we know that is true. That there simply aren't straight men who are lecherous bullies who aren't sexually assaulting women. That yelling and screaming and throwing public tantrums to get your way and forcing a woman to watch you jerk off into a potted plant really are the same behavior.

That it's far too easy to pretend it isn't when you aren't the one being cornered, but the one being asked to make the next great American film.

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