In October The New York Times ran an investigation and published an expose claiming long-time movie producer, Harvey Weinstein had been paying off sexual harassment accusers for decades.
Along with The Weinstein Company, Harvey co-founded Miramax Films, which put out classics like Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, Gangs of New York, and Good Will Hunting, to name a few. Weinstein basically owned the 90s, giving him influence and power in an industry where breaks are heavily sought after.
Now, in light of the damaging information, Harvey has been fired by his company.
Initially this was as big as a headline can get. This was huge. Weinstein is a staple in Hollywood and known by all, so this alone was a whale of a pill to swallow and an eye popping piece of information when it was first published.
But a domino effect happened in it’s aftermath: the women who bravely came forward to speak against Weinstein sparked courage in other victims who had been silent. Consequently, this also meant more big names coming to light, not only in Hollywood but running for ranking political seats, too.
Since those bold 57 women came forward in October, there have been at least 20 high-profile men in a variety of industries that have also been accused. Some have resigned, others fired or had some other type of fallout due to claims ranging from inappropriate text messages to rape.
But you can only be shocked for so long before you realize that there is nothing surprising about this anymore. The ugly truth is that this is norm. This is the culture.
We’re talking about people like Kevin Spacey, who is accused of sexual assaulting multiple men and sexual misconduct with a minor. Louis C.K., who, in his apology for indecent exposure, said he thought what he did was O.K. at the time because he never exposed himself without asking before.
Or Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for a United States Senate seat in Alabama: he’s accused of making sexual or romantic overtures to teenagers when he was in his 30s.
That’s just a few of the names. After a while, you begin to see that across politics, Hollywood, media, and honestly any work space, male patriarchy and sexism is pervasive.
In wake of the Weinstein scandal, actress Alyssa Milano started the #MeToo hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for women to tell their story and hopefully paint a picture of how common sexual harassment and sexual assault is.
Both men and women responded to the hashtags, even using it for personal testimonials. As a result, a new ABC News-Washington Post poll came out that found half of all American women—54%—have experienced “unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances” at some point in their lives.
Thirty percent of women have endured such behavior from male colleagues and 25% identified men with sway over their careers as the culprits.
It’s not a Weinstein thing, it’s not a Hollywood or corrupt politicians thing, it’s a male thing, and it’s shameful that this is still an issue today.
While Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey both have lost endorsements, movies, and their Netflix deals, and other culprits have lost their platforms as well, it doesn’t nearly address what the culture has perpetrated for so many years.
Women don’t speak in fear of being outcasted and men don’t say anything because men don’t talk. It’s a gross pattern that has finally spiraled out of control.
It’s time for us men to take a step back and listen. We need to take a closer look to how we engage with women, our behavior when we’re interested in someone, and the cues they give when they aren’t interested. We should even go as far as to educate our friends as well to hold them in check to the same standards to ensure everyone around is abiding by that code. When you hear your boy say something questionable, check him.
We may see more of our beloved actors, directors, and idols with platforms defamed with similar allegations, but instead of focusing on that disappointment, our focus should be protecting the women closest to us and the ones we interact with everyday. Until then, we must educate ourselves and keep an open ear.
Harvey Weinstein’s scandal taught us that sexual assault is a lot closer to home than we think, but it’s something that we can begin changing today.