Like most news junkies I’ve been following the Harvey Weinstein problems which appear to be considerable. I had heard of him before and the photo that flashed in the news showed a man who I remembered as giving me the creeps. Outside of that I had no interest in him. Now, as all of his victims came forth with stories I thought back on all my years of difficulties with sexual predators. Mr. Weinstein has apparently admitted himself to a rehab center in Arizona. It gives me thought of how a thief is not disturbed by his crime only that he got caught. There was no doubt in my mind that Mr. Weinstein would never had sought help for his “sexual addiction” if it hadn’t become public. He wasn’t sorry that he destroyed so many women; he was only sorry that he got caught.
The news articles concerning Mr. Weinstein wrote as if this were a rare occurrence. Imagine, a successful Hollywood mogul getting caught with his hands in the cookie jar. I thought of Roman Polanski, film director, who in March 1977 was arrested and charged with five offenses against a 13-year-old girl, rape by use of drugs, perversion and sodomy and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. At his arraignment Polanski pleaded not guilty to all charges. Upon learning that he was likely to face imprisonment and deportation. Polanski fled to France in February 1978, hours before he was to be formally sentenced. Since then Polanski has mostly lived in France and has avoided visiting countries likely to extradite him to the United States. I thought of the Oscar night, many years after having left the country, when he received the Best Director award and was given a standing ovation. At the time I wanted to throw up. What was wrong with Hollywood not only protecting their own but applauding their own? It (almost) made me want to give up going to the movies.
All of this publicity on Harvey Weinstein brings me back to the times when I had problems with sexual predators. Many years before I got into recovery my boss asked me to work late. Since I was the Office Manager/Customer Service Manager I couldn’t imagine why he needed me to work overtime. I busied myself doing office projects and soon realized that everyone in the building had left for the day. Then I heard my boss, a big man over 6ft 3in who kept a book on his desk titled Winning Through Intimidation coming out of his office. Before I had a chance to move he had me pinned against the counter and brutally raped me. I can still remember the shame and terror. If I reported him to the police I would lose my job. I was a single mother raising four children without any child support and could ill afford that. I also knew what defense he would mount against me and could see that there was no chance that he would be prosecuted for his heinous crime. I drove home sobbing and feeling afraid with no protection available. I found another job and left his employ within weeks but I doubt if I’ll ever be able to erase from my mind the fear and helplessness I felt. That man is now dead; he died in agony of cancer, no friends and estranged from three of his four children. Payback is a bitch. (I’m not one to use clichés but in this case it fits).
Another time. a different job, my boss harassed me sexually until I reported him to Human Resources. He had threatened to give me a bad annual review if I would not give in to him. I didn’t and I received a review that was so bad I would never have hired the person on that evaluation. After months of interviews, gathering data to show the truth, one interview with the Personnel Dept. (they concluded that I had been sexually attracted to him and tried to get him to respond – a close friend of his was in charge of that department), then an interview with the Administrator of the hospital I was working for (she admitted he was guilty but said if she had to prosecute him she’d have to prosecute half of her physicians) and a final interview with a review board who found against me. All I had wanted was for him to redo my evaluation and stop harassing me. I found out later that the men in my department who had witnessed some of his abuse (he had on two different occasions came at me with his fist raised intending to hit me but was pulled off by co-workers) had been told by him that he was contemplating laying off several of the men in our department. Curiously they were the same men who had witnessed his abuse. They apologized to me later but said they had families and couldn’t afford to lose their jobs.
Sexual predators are not new to our civilization. It has been going on since the beginning of time. The difference is that people are beginning to get a conscience regarding this evil. Not everyone is leaning to that resolve. It is somewhat easy to picture wanting a job in tinsel town, being told that you could be made a star if only you acquiesced to the sexual demands that the person in power held over you. Even if that sexual predator raped you society is structured to be on his side not yours. Not only would any chance of success disappear from your grasp but you would not be able to fight against the power of expensive attorneys and would be blackballed against any possible success in the future.
This picture enrages me. What is even more appalling is seeing all the rich and famous acting as if they had no idea anything like this was going on. There are few secrets in Hollywood. There are even fewer secrets in politics. Hilary Clinton was “shocked and appalled” saying this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated (it took her several days after finding out what Harvey Weinstein had done before commenting). Of all people she would be familiar with the profile of a sexual predator. Her enabling behavior with regards her husband’s sexual behavior is mind boggling. What kind of double standard does Mrs. Clinton embrace? How many more sexual predators lurk in the motion picture business? If they escape coming to light they will only double down on trying to keep their behavior secret. If you have enough money there are plenty of lawyers willing to defend the most horrifying perpetrators
What are we missing in this picture? Newscasters are focusing on media darlings who are crawling out from under rocks. Little focus is on the victims. Their lives will never be the same.
Their shame will follow them to the grave. They will cringe at the part they played and why hadn’t they come forward earlier. Since one in four girls will become victims of sexual assault you can do the math. Inability to speak up, to refuse to be a participant is part of the profile of someone who was sexually assaulted as a child. Even if this were not the case the climate in Hollywood is one of permissive behavior. Movies have been shifting so far to the left that they are no longer films that produce art. What used to be an X rated scene is now common place in movies. Violence is exploited for all it is worth. Young children now have access to both flagrant sexuality and graphic violence. In this age of social media, cell phone pictures and selfies and especially permissive parenting, children have little chance of growing up with qualities like integrity, honesty, social justice and striving to make a positive difference in the world. Today’s culture with teenagers especially is all about them.
What can we do? We can refuse to raise our children in ways that are not for their moral good. We can teach little ones how to protect themselves from sexual predators, the biggest percentage of which are family members and friends. We cannot validate what Hollywood is producing that passes for art and entertainment. For starters we can monitor our children’s access to menacing films on You Tube and Internet chat rooms that are encouraging behavior not in their best interests. We can make sure we know our child’s friends and their activities. We can take a stand and say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!