Over the past four weeks, Harvey Weinstein has joined the ever-growing list of men who apparently can’t keep their hands off women. This list includes President Clinton, President Trump, Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, men who don’t know how to behave as Gentlemen.
How did a culture of silence build up around Harvey Weinstein?
The pace of the allegations against Weinstein has been rapid over the past four weeks, allegations against him include sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and the systematic silencing of victims. The New York Times divulged the information on Harvey Weinstein in a scathing article which accounted for many of his victims. According to The New York Times a female assistant working for The Weinstein Company claimed Mr Weinstein harassed her into giving him a massage while he was naked.
“I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.”
– From Lauren O’Connor‘s memo
Since the explosive article appeared, the number of women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or sexual assault is staggering. Over 50 women have bravely stood up and accused him of something. Yet Mr Weinstein has, “Unequivocally denied” any allegations of non-consensual sex.
I find it inconceivable that a man like Weinstein, with such a disturbing scope of behaviours was considered a normal and genuine man.
Harvey Weinstein has been protected by Hollywood. All things ‘Hollywood’ are all things ‘PR’, and Weinstein was most definitely all things ‘Hollywood’. He was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood – a ‘movie god’, possessing an unrivalled combination of political influence, power and money; and so it was clear the disgraced film mogul’s own institution were keen to keep quiet. It is now the case that The Weinstein Company has fired Weinstein (that’s right, from his own company) in response to the publicity surrounding his sexual predatory behaviour. In my opinion, The Weinstein Company should have had fired him 30 years ago when IT found out; rather than now, only when WE have found out.
Weinstein’s friends were his fixers and lawyers, they too are the powerful PR of Hollywood, yet once again, they kept quiet. Quentin Tarantino revealed on the 20th October 2017 he knew about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misconduct towards women for years. “I knew enough to do more than I did”, the film director declared to The New York Times. So why did he remain silent, consequently protecting Weinstein? Behind the glitz and glam of Harvey Weinstein, he was piling up the victims and according to two company officials who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity; he had reached at least 8 silent settlements with women.
“The men who do this, do it because they have the power and wealth to get away with it. They deliberately pick on women who are less powerful than themselves.”
– Joan Smith, writer, speaking about Weinstein
In a just world, Harvey Weinstein’s actions are indefensible, yet Weinstein defended them when he issued one of the strangest public apologies I have ever read. It’s clear he is now struggling to hire someone adequate enough to do his PR for him, now we all know the truth.
He starts by saying, “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.” Sorry Mr Weinstein, but sexual harassment and assault was never culture, you should blame yourself, not ‘The culture’.
Weinstein goes on to say, “Over the last year, I’ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me, and she’s put together a team of people. I’ve brought on therapists, and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on. I so respect all women, and regret what happened.” Mr Weinstein, if you need a team of people and therapists to tutor you on how to behave like a civil, decent man and keep your hands to yourself; you really have no respect for anyone, not just women.
Weinstein closes with the following, “I am going to need a place to channel that anger, so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party. One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom, and I won’t disappoint her.”
As I’m sure many of you will agree, upon reading this my first thought was, “What is he talking about?” How can he talk about the NRA, his Bar Mitzvah, the President, and an upcoming movie project all in an apology statement? Is this an attempt by PR to distract us from the apology and his acknowledgement of his actions? I don’t believe honouring his mother with a $5 million scholarship for women will eliminate the lifelong hurt and pain suffered by women he has abused either.
Harvey Weinstein has been protected by PR for most of his career and his serial sexual harassment went under the radar. The powerful public’s who had every opportunity to challenge this animal unfortunately turned a very detrimental and destructive blind eye.
Lauren Hill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn.