I’ve been following the daily news filling my feed about Harvey Weinstein, and one conclusion keeps finding new and ugly reinforcement. You’re not excused.
You. Are. Not. Excused. Yes, I’m talking to you, frequent collaborators of Mr. Weinstein and Hollywood elite. Though others may offer you a pass and even praise for your gracious Twitter posts sharing your dismay wrapped in a thin veneer of sympathy, grounded in some worthy female in your life, in my book, you are not excused. I don’t applaud your smug self-praise for the venomous joke you offered one day several years ago at the altar of the man once glorified as the god of Hollywood. Your subversion is noted via indirect references packaged as pop culture humor to a pattern of abusive behavior, but your remorseful uncertainty of the nature of the rumors, and your claims to brave confrontations behind the scenes don’t impress me. These are all dog-ate-my-homework quality bullshit excuses that don’t deserve consideration.
Neither does this changing of the times narrative; you know the one you keep hearing that say, “Now we’re all WOKE, so this behavior is no longer acceptable.” As if once upon a time you would’ve dismissed this pattern of abuse and grotesque behavior as acceptable?
This nonsense, often used as a shield by perpetrators, has a constant presence in each and every one of these national conversations. Not just because perpetrators hide behind it, but more unfortunately, because others continue giving it flight. It is packaged in new and deceptive ways, still drawing back to the implication that there was some point in history when we — as a full society of men and women — would all agree this was acceptable. That women weren’t simply suffering in greater silence behind even heavier closed doors barred shut by a patriarchal definition of ethics. It provides easy escape to those ethos cultivators of a nation who glutinously consumes the over-sexualization of women, which in 2017 is still based on the expectation of women as bait, meat, and beauty-based value. It is time you did WAKE up and realize you are part of the problem.
You are not excused for standing by, as a man, woman, or person, enjoying your pedestal and wealth and comfort. For years, it was easier to console colleagues in secret or ignore the whispers instead of using your position to stop this from ever happening again. Instead of supporting and empowering those victims you knew with the safety and support needed to come forward without fear of losing everything. After the friend or colleague you heard it happened to, you might have been the difference — to stop all future harassment, assault, or rape that happened thereafter from ever happening in the first place. Maybe knowing full well, or partially, or just a sneaking suspicion that gave you pause, that someone — possibly your colleague, friend or even the POTUS’ daughter – might someday be his next victim. You chose to bow down to the God of Hollywood, your silence as offering, bartering others’ sexual abuse for your own good fortune.
While we’re at it — to all the other men out there trying with good intentions to condemn this behavior, I won’t stand next to you celebrating this defeat of immorality as an abrupt and effective end to one man’s poor behavior. Abrupt? Someone sexually assaults women for decades, and we call this demise an abrupt end? What is the alternative to abrupt in this scenario: tapering him off his drug of choice with a few less women per year?
Lest we not forget – neither is the Weinstein Company excused, nor should they be praised for acting promptly after discovery of these allegations. There is no easy sigh of gratitude and exclamation of finally! in this scenario that you get to carry in your pocket next to your badge of honor. You are not a beacon of hope against gender-based violence. For if you carry finally through to its reality-based application, you’d be saying: Finally, some great journalist cracked this wide open or empowered victims to share their stories, when we all chose to turn a blind eye and allow it to continue all these years.
So when I say you are not excused, I hope your take away is a long hard look in the mirror. What could you do differently in the future, to ensure at least one less woman is victimized by this patriarchy you continue to enable to thrive? What really does matter more to you – your own wealth and comfort, or the possibility of preventing the sexual assault, harassment or even rape of a woman? How could you use your position of power to pass the mic to victims and those who are fighting against this culture instead of acting as a false moral compass for your own gain? Why do you crown as God those who propagate these values? Perhaps you might start by changing your religion.