Numerous columnist and women (Rebecca Solnit in the New York Times for one) have been triumphing, rejoicing over the conviction of Harvey Weinstein as if it was a complete victory. It's true apparently powerful white men are rarely convicted when they are accused of rape (also white college young men), but the most important charges were dismissed. Yes he raped Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann but those are single instances. Several women have accused and brought forth evidence t court to show this man regularly (as if it's his right) pressured, harassed and raped women who came to his company for a job acting; he also assaulted some several times. A pattern of conduct was clearly revealed. If this be not a sexual predator, what is? He denies all guilt and will of course appeal.
The six women courageous enough to take their accusations to court
Here is a time-line (BBC)
We read of how his defense attorney drove one of the six women to such crying that the court had to stop to allow her hysteria to come down. What made her cry? well the attorney brought out how she came back again for another encounter with Weinstein -- as did numerous of these women. How is this, the jurors might have asked themselves.
The problem is the way the situation is presented. It is presented as a woman carrying on going out (as if this were an ordinary date) with him -- I understand what once a woman goes out with the man again, she seems to be accepting the behavior. What is left out is these women came to him pursuing a career -- these were job interviews in effect. What no prosecuting attorney seems to say, make explicit is the way sexual life is conducted in this industry and by this man tantamount to denying her the right to to seek a career without sexual harassment and rape. Why did they re-see him: because this was and maybe still in in some places the only way she can pursue her career. What used to happen (and still does) is it's understood you have to have sex with him. If you are upset by it, don't come back. But of course don't tell or you'll never work again.
I know of girls who wanted to get positions at theaters acting, on the tech side, on the business side, and were invited for an interview. They show up and find they are under terrific pressure to take off their clothes and submit to sex. They have to work hard not to get angry and leave the place without being raped. Many women might and do give up the career in theater. They don't think to tell because there is no one to tell. There's a new novel out by Anne Enright said to make this point (Actress). Whether it does or not, I read a review which said it dramatizes how a woman is trying to pursue a career and that's why she keeps coming back.
What is being fought for is the right to pursue a career without being assaulted. I'll lay a bet it was never put that way. Why not? I am so often so puzzled why people don't say the thing that is. To me he got away with most of what he did -- only one count of a particular (egregious I suppose) assault and it took the jury a while to decide on that. 90+ women, 6 there, more in LA next week. On FB someone on my time-line said we were lucky to get that conviction.
Burke obtained a 1 million dollar grant for her #MeToo start up
On DemocracyNow.org, Amy Goodman has the black woman who is the head of #MeToo, Tarana Burke -- and Rosanna Arquette, a white actress who was one of the first to speak out. Arquette went on in a triumphant vein (similar to Solnit) except the toe was bitter. Why? Tarana Burke explained. Burke said that she was relieved, and and then added that the NYTimes said of the charges that were not deemed guilty "the jury must not have believed" the woman. Says Burke, the Times has no right to put out that explanation or narrative. The NYTImes has no idea why they didn't declare this man guilty on the other three counts.
What's the problem here? the way the law is construed and the way we talk about thee incidents. The judge directed the jury was narrowly focused. She agreed it's a start but only a start. Here is some of what Burke said:
I really don’t want people to rest on this verdict as an indictment of the whole movement, or a victory even for the whole movement, or to think that our work is done. What we have to do is look at people like Harvey Weinstein and unpack that. What type of power and privilege was he surrounded by that allowed him to do this, these things, these crimes, for 20 and 30 years, right? He’s an individual person who did this, but individuals don’t operate in isolation. You cannot — you don’t become Harvey Weinstein overnight without having systems of power around you to keep you in that position. So, really, as the new trial happens and as we get to his sentencing, we’re going to keep a close eye on that, but use that as an example to talk about the larger issue of sexual violence
Yes, the person who perpetrated the crime needs to be accountable for the harm that they caused. But other people are causing harm, and if we turn a blind eye to the systems that they operate in, then we’ll just have another Harvey Weinstein. Right now there’s another Weinstein being groomed, there’s another R. Kelly being groomed, to do the same exact thing. That’s why we have to upend the systems.
She does use the word system but does not explain that this system she is talking about is how to get a job. As long as that is not said, newspapers can carry blithely implying the woman was lying and was complicit in the sex, was willing. Is it that ambition in women is not accepted? I don't think that's it. What is happening is a refusal to properly contextualize and give the fuller array of people around Weinstein -- who themselves may get to take advantage of this women's career need.
Four years ago Cyrus Vance refused to prosecute Weinstein when one woman went back with tapes around her and taped him. These were not good enough. They were taken from her and almost disappeared. This is what Goodman said:
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance called Weinstein a “vicious, serial predator.” There are many right now who are calling for Cyrus Vance to resign, among the cases, around Dr. Hadden, the Columbia University OB- that Evelyn Yang, the wife of the former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, spoke out against, saying that she went in, she was seven months pregnant, and he sexually assaulted her. Since she spoke out at a rally, 40 more women have come forward, bringing the total to 70 women who came out against Dr. Hadden. Now, unbeknownst to her, he had been arrested six weeks before she was assaulted, but allowed to go back and continue to practice. He never served a day in jail. So, many are calling for Cyrus Vance to resign over this or to bring charges around Dr. Hadden, who simply lost his license.
Burke: it’s ridiculous that it takes 90 women to get two convictions, 60 and 70 women to come forward to get attention to these issues. And the fact that Cy Vance didn’t bring a case against Harvey Weinstein over the years, when he’s had other evidence, is something that we do have to look at. I mean, his statement yesterday was great, but you can’t — that doesn’t erase what you didn’t do. So many of us will never see the inside of a courtroom. So many survivors will never have a moment like we had yesterday. We will never see this kind of justice, if you will. And part of it is because of people like that, who sit and they gatekeep so that powerful men like Harvey Weinstein never also have to see the inside of a courtroom. And that’s problematic. This is about — this is why I keep going back to the systems. He is a part of that system that perpetuates this continued violence against survivors of sexual violence.
What I am saying and it is the purpose of this blog to say is this system is about getting a job or keeping a job or getting promoted. Because acting is involved, the behavior seems glamorous as often the woman is dressed to look beautiful and the surroundings not that of an office. Nonetheless this is about the right to work in a place without being harassed, raped, assaulted. Goodman's instance adds the right to get medical help without being violated. My reader may say, well isn't this obvious? I'm not sure it is. I am not sure what was in the minds of jurors who after hearing all about Weinstein for so long could conclude it was not proved he has been and might continue to be a sexual predator.