On Thursday, The New York Times published an article detailing allegations of sexual harassment against big-time Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The allegations come from multiple women and date back nearly three decades. The article included allegations from actress Ashley Judd, who said Weinstein “asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower.” She added that “women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”
Mark Gill, former president of Miramax Los Angeles, which Weinstein co-founded, was quoted in the article saying that "from the outside, [the company] seemed golden — the Oscars, the success, the remarkable cultural impact. But behind the scenes, it was a mess, and this was the biggest mess of all..." He also said that "if a female executive was asked to go to a meeting solo, she and a colleague would generally double up” to avoid being alone with the powerful producer.
A confusing series of statements accompanied the Times article: Weinstein responded to the paper, writing that he has "long way to go" and he wants to "conquer" his "demons." One of his lawyers, Lisa Bloom, told the Times that "he denies many of the accusations as patently false" (and added that he's "an old dinosaur learning new ways"). Then, after the article was published, another of Weinstein's lawyers, Charles Harder, refuted the story and threatened to sue the outlet on his client's behalf.
Whatever happens with that lawsuit, Weinstein's initial statement to the Times lives on — and it's disturbing, to say the least. Let's break down the most questionable aspects of that statement and shed some light on the persistent problem of sexual harassment in America.
"I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then."
Hmmm. It's appears he's talking about the Mad Men-era, which, as a white male born in 1953, might've been around when he grew up, but the bulk of his actual career took place in the 80s, 90s, and into the 2000s, when sexual harassment in the work place was very much a topic discussed. He is a 65-year-old man — he has been in the culture now for quite a long time, and has had years upon years to catch up. I don't still use a flip phone because it was the mobile phone that was in the culture when I came of age. How long will old white men be able to excuse away their behavior by saying they thought it was OK because Don Draper did it?
Newsflash: Talking about sexual harassment in the workplace didn't just become a "thing" in 2017. Workplace sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and has been in the forefront of much of the public consciousness for quite some time. You can't tell me Weinstein wasn't aware of some of the more higher profile cases, like Anita Hill's testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, which dominated the headlines that year.
"Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. 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 will save you the money, Weinstein: Don't sexually harass anyone. It doesn't take a genius to follow one simple rule: Don't sexually harass anyone. Here's a quick rule of thumb: Treat every person who enters your work life in the exact same way. If a woman you find attractive enters the room, treat her like a fully-formed human being. To put it in easier terms for you to understand: treat her like you would a man.
"I so respect all women and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more."
Weinstein needs intense sit-downs with a high-powered, high-paid lawyer (who happens to be a woman) to understand how to behave? I'm pretty sure any of my nieces or nephews could explain this to you in 30 seconds: Treat other human beings with respect.
It speaks to a festering rot in Hollywood (and in many other places) that nobody interfered with Weinstein's behavior sooner. Instead, multiple settlements were allegedly reached. Maybe he got a slap on the wrist, or a talking to, but it wasn't enough.
As someone who has worked in Los Angeles for five years, I've personally seen this type of thing happen, and heard equally horrendous stories about "talented" male directors and "esteemed" male producers, all of whom ruined the careers of amazing women with so much potential, simply because they (sometimes literally) couldn't keep it in their pants. How many women's careers are sacrificed to keep these men in positions of power? What amazing things would these women have done in their work lives? How much innovation and brilliance do we, as a nation, miss out on because of this?
"Jay Z wrote in 4:44 'I'm not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children.'"
Jay-Z never wrote that.
"I want a second chance in the community but I know I've got work to do to earn it."
Sorry, Weinstein, but why do you get a second chance? (If these allegations are true, you've had chance upon chance upon chance upon chance to change; you did not.)
Why don't you (or some of your multiple proxies) reach out to all the women whose lives you've negatively affected and offer assistance in their careers? Retire, take full-time lessons from Lisa Bloom in how to be a person, and then donate your considerable wealth to helping women succeed in show business.
"Trust me, this isn't an overnight process."
Yeah, it's more like a 30-year process that should've never started, and when it did, it should've been nipped in the bud with a 10-minute conversation about how: 1. you shouldn't sexually harass anyone and 2. Now that you have, you're fired.
He goes on:
"I've been trying to do this for 10 years and this is a wake-up call."
TEN YEARS? And being publicly outed as an alleged sexual harasser is what it took?
"I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them."
I'm pretty sure you can be more remorseful, and this sloppy statement is a strong indication of that fact.
By the end of this messy statement, I can't help but feel like Weinstein wants a parade:
"One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC."
That's great, but, if these allegations are true, it's not nearly enough, and Weinstein gets no praise for starting to act like a human at 65 years of age.
Adapted from Cosmo US