I was listening to NPR on the way home from the grocery store, and they were talking about how the Weinstein Co. is negotiating to receive equity from a private donor in order to continue. The CEO of the equity company (who was some kind of adviser to this president during his campaign. MASSIVE side eye for that) said something like he wanted to ensure that the quality of independent film-making continues.
The whole thing rubbed me the wrong way, and I’ll tell you why. Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predatory behavior did not exist in a vacuum. He’s been doing this since at least the eighties, which is thirty years. There is a harrowing account of an actress trying to leave the situation, asking the assistant if her car was there, only to be told no and to go into Harvey’s room. Think about that. It was such common knowledge, the assistant was in on it*. There is no way in hell the assistant knew and Bob (the brother) Weinstein and/or the members of the board didn’t. They might not have had concrete proof, but they knew. They heard the rumors. They saw the way he acted. They chose not to know so they wouldn’t have to do anything about it.
I don’t want Weinstein Co. to continue and flourish. I want it to be burned to the ground. It fostered the atmosphere in which Weinstein was able to traumatize countless women with no consequence except writing a check now and again. The numbers may seem significant, but for a man like Weinstein, writing a check for a hundred thou was nothing. He probably shit away more than that on a regular basis. It’s much easier for him to write a check than to have to go through sexual harassment/sexual assault trial, and it doesn’t put his reputation at risk, either. Sure, it was an open secret he was a predator, but that didn’t cost him anything in Hollywood. He was still a powerful man–it’s his victims and potential victims who had to adjust their behavior. Angelina Jolie said she warned others about him. Jessica Chastain said she was warned about him. Yet, not one single thing was done TO him.
Side note: Can we please stop with the ‘it hasn’t been proven in court’ derailments that always crop up when cases like this happen? Twitter is not The Law, and it’s perfectly fine to judge him in the court of public opinion. I am more than comfortable saying that Harvey Weinstein is a serial predator, and I don’t need a court to confirm the stories I’ve been reading about him. Of course he deserves his day in court (if it even comes to that, which I’m quite cynical about), but that doesn’t mean I have to pretend I haven’t already made up my mind.
Weinstein Co. should be irrevocably damaged by what Harvey Weinstein has done. There should be no coming back from this. I know there are plenty of people who will be hurt if this happens, and I sympathize with the people who worked for the Weinsteins, but there has to be some punishment for behavior like Weinstein’s. Part of the problem with sexual assault in our country is that there is little-to-no consequence for the behavior. Look at the Cosby case. Even with all the women who stepped forward, it was a hung jury because the jurists couldn’t agree on the definition of sexual harassment/assault. I mean, drugging someone and then having sex with them seems pretty clear to me, but, you know, YMMV.
Another side note: Twitter suspended Rose McGowan (they reinstated her after the very vocal outcry), one of the actresses who was assaulted by Weinstein and has been very vocal about it on Twitter because she tweeted Ben Affleck with ‘fuck off’. He had claimed he knew nothing about Weinstein’s behavior, but she claimed he said, “Goddamn it, I told him to knock it off” after she was made to go to a press conference after Weinstein assaulted her. Then, a video of Affleck groping a reporter’s boob materialized, so fuck off, Ben Affleck, indeed. Anyway, Twitter automatically suspends people who swear at a check mark if the tweet is reported, which is such bullshit to me. They won’t suspend people sending rape or death threats or Nazis, but say fuck you to a celeb will get you suspended–even if you’re a celeb yourself. Twitter addressed this and said they would actually start looking into suspending Nazis, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
I’ve been beating the drum of what dudes can do to put a stop to this because they’re the ones who have the most influence with their fellow dudes. I was reading a letter to Captain Awkward from a guy who says he’s been getting the cold shoulder from women when he mentions that he attends certain cons (in response to them saying they think they’ve met him elsewhere) because they are so toxic to women. He made pains to note that he understood they didn’t like Nice Guys™, creepers, and having to put up with harassment at these cons. He notes that he’s been groped in the past. He wants to know how he can take pains to assure him that he’s not like those other gross guys so that they’ll be friends with him (and perhaps date him).
Captain Awkward has great advice for him, and my favorite is her asking what he’s doing to make these spaces safe for women. She was very kind to him, but I would have been a little less kind by adding, “If you aren’t doing anything to make these spaces safer for women, then you’re part of the problem.” It’s interesting because when he joins in the conversation, he thanks her for not assuming he wants his ally cookie. Everything he said (as much as I read) just irked me the tiniest bit. It’s as if he learned the language, but wasn’t actually walking the walk. It got more interesting when someone said something about white cis dudes because he had said he had to keep his interest in anime ‘in the closet’, and he said he wasn’t white. It proves that just because you’re disadvantaged in one way, you’re not always sensitive to the difficulties of other disadvantaged groups. Also, he was right in that the other person shouldn’t have assumed he was white, but one of the most problematic things about Captain Awkward is the lack of racial diversity in the commentariat.
Anyway, the guy was saying all the right things, but it had the ring of someone repeating what he’d learn. It’s like the uncanny valley in which the closer robots get to human, the weirder they make me feel. It’s the same with this guy. He’s being empathetic and girl power, but it feels like he’s doing it with the end game of getting laid. I’m not putting down the desire to have sex. It’s a powerful drive for most people. However, it’s squicky to me when someone adapts the language of a group solely to be able to have sex.
I’m old enough to remember the ’90s and the Sensitive New Age Guys (SNAG). They were so into looking deeply in your eyes and talking sensitively about your feelings. They usually had a ponytail and were all groovy man while talking. They were feminists! They were all about girl power! And yet, as I often joked, they still wouldn’t take out the damn trash. In fact, if you asked them to, they’d talk about the rigidity of gender roles, blah, blah, blah. To which I’d say, “Then do the damn dishes once in a goddamn while!”
My point is that it’s easy to co-opt the language for your own nefarious means. Some guys are apparently using the pink pussy hats as a way of showing their safe only so they’ll get sex. I think the LW above is sincere if misguided, but the reason he’s putting me off is because for all his noble ideas, he still wants to find a way to get laid. Again, I’m all for getting laid, but not if you’re doing it covertly.
Someone in the comments got it exactly right by saying the LW talks about not being a Nice Guy™, but then kinda acts like one. He says he’s not doing all these gross things and still can’t get a girlfriend. Part of being a Nice Guy™ is becoming resentful when a woman doesn’t instantly want to date you after you’ve done nice things for her. Being a decent person doesn’t entitle you to sexytimes, and it’s pretty clear that the LW is flirting with that territory.
I’ve seen it in other ways that I’ve mentioned several times. White people loudly saying white people are the worst, but not following it up by actually doing anything to change racial dynamics in the world. Then, if you push back on something they said or did, they get defensive about it because they are so WOKE, damn it! It’s the same thing here. This guy is focused on getting a girlfriend, and he can’t understand why he can’t, so it must be the creepers around him!
Let’s address that, though. If he really cared about cons being safe spaces for women, he would actually do something about the culture. He could set up a committee before the con starts and institute a sexual harassment policy. He could make it loud and clear that he personally does not condone that kind of talk/behavior. In fact, he could do that in his daily life on a day-to-day basis. Yes, I know it’s hard to be the no-fun guy, but you know what? It’s much less fun being on the receiving end of that kind of grossness AND being the no-fun gal. I really am sympathetic about having to stand up to the masses, but if you’re serious about changing social norms, that’s what you have to do. Otherwise, yeah, I’m going to think you’re a Nice Guy™ who wants an ally cookie for being not a total shit. Sorry. You’re not going to get it.
*I am NOT blaming the assistant–just pointing out how pervasive Weinstein’s behavior was.