[Photo credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan]
Harvey Weinstein is a very powerful man in Hollywood. The news of his decades of abuse and sexual harassment of women hit over the Jewish religious holiday of Sukkot. As I emerged from my news-free cocoon that is religious observance, I saw tweets and articles with Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and now Meryl Streep calling him out, calling for his resignation (which happened this week), and denouncing this disgusting vile behavior.
The sad thing is, I am not surprised. Not because I know Harvey. But because it is my assumption, sadly, that this is just what happens all of the time. When I say that, people accuse me of being cynical or a man-hater. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on for me.
I am not surprised because men in power seek to maintain it and reap what they see as the acceptable cultural benefits of that power. Women should never be subjected to abuse of the kind Harvey doled out. Women should never be punished for rejecting the advances of a lecherous man. Women should not be required to satisfy a man’s sexual desires in order to get ahead.
In addition, we need to raise a future generation of girls who understand that the kind of attention men in power seem to promise is not something to aspire to, and that sexual attention does not equal validation.
And as many women speak up against harassment, I know that there are many who just accept it as the way to get to the top. I have friends who believe ‘If this is the way to get ahead, why not do it? Why not flirt more than you should? Why not sleep with someone?’
And not to sound like a 1000-year-old mom, but when I talk to women who participate in threesomes at the request of men or go to strip clubs when they really don’t want to in the name of sexual liberation, I can’t help but wonder if young women will fall into these situations and be abused more than those of us who were not raised to socialize in strip clubs and compete with a heteronormative patriarchal perception of sexual freedom.
There is no excuse for abuse by men already in power, or men seeking to gain power by sexually conquering women. Women need to protect themselves, and we all need to speak up when we see or hear about injustice being done to women, especially in this industry. I see horrendous behavior all of the time by men, and I know you do too. I don’t just see it in my industry: I saw it in academia; I see it all of the time with medical professionals; I see it on the streets of the city I live in; and I see it in every TV show, movie, and video that uses naked women as wallpaper.
The Patriarchy is alive and well. Harvey Weinstein is just the most recent and public figure to remind us of this. I am fed up. But then again, I’ve been fed up my whole life.