Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea who Harvey Weinstein was. This is a little hard for me to admit, given that Pulp Fiction is a classic and one of my all time favorites, but now, more than ever, it is important to know his name.
It is important to know his name—not as a spearhead of Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company, but as the Hollywood bigshot who sexually harassed women for decades.
The New York Times recently published multiple reports chronicling the stories of aspiring actresses and Hollywood superstars alike who have allegedly been harassed by Weinstein, ranging from Angelina Jolie to Rose McGowan to Gwyneth Paltrow. Since the publishing of the report, Weinstein has been fired by his own company, and more women have spoken out against him and have shared their stories.
This is 2017, and this is happening. For more than twenty years now, Weinstein has attempted, and succeeded, to coerce women into his bedroom, telling them this is the price for fame. Bragging about sleeping with other famous women. Attempting to use his stature for sex. Trying to take advantage of young, aspiring women who just want to follow their dream.
Is this the price we pay for being born a woman? That no matter how successful, or full of dreams we are, there will always be a Harvey Weinstein figure to try to make us feel small? That objectification will never truly end? How much has really changed?
The women who shared their stories about Weinstein should be role models for every woman. Speaking out against someone so powerful is no small feat, and they deserve endless praise and and respect. However, they are often given the opposite. Many people don’t believe them. “They want their fifteen minutes of fame,” someone might say. Another person might ask “why, if this has been happening for so long, has it taken so long for these women to share their stories?”
I’ll tell you why. Sixty women told their stories—their truths—about their experiences with Bill Cosby, and there was no conviction. It seems as though there is never a conviction, that no matter what happens, the woman can hardly ever win, and this is a terrifying world to live in. There is no guarantee that people will believe you. Often, women who share their stories become social pariahs. Many are blackmailed into keeping the incident a secret. (For example, Weinstein told Paltrow to not speak a word, and Rose McGowan was kept silent—or relatively silent, anyway—by way of a settlement.) Careers hang in the balance. We fear for their reputations. This world where no one ever gets convicted makes it so women do not speak their truths and share their stories. It provides safe haven for powerful people that abuse their celebrity.
Celebrity should not be exempt from moral accountability. No one should be allowed to take advantage of anyone. Hold these people responsible.
As Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca said, “one of the most challenging parts of women’s current struggle is the apparent lack thereof. The patriarchy infects the female experience and then denies its own existence. Women who share experiences of oppression — from rape to microaggressions — are most often dismissed, or silenced via harassment, violence, or some combination of the two.”
Women are shamed into shutting up. At a certain point, it becomes easier to live with the gruesome truth than to share the story.
What these women who have come out against Harvey Weinstein are doing is not easy. To the women everywhere who have shared their stories about abuse and harassment, thank you. You are all heroes.