I want to weigh in on this movie mogul assaulting women news story and I find it tough. Here goes:
The film that put Miramax, Harvey Weinstein’s studio, on the map was the maniacally successful Pulp Fiction, which I never liked. Tarantino’s homage to B movies I kicked to the curb due to the film’s romantic glorification of heroin, which numerous films have done (plus it’s actual racist tones). Working in detox (two years after Fiction’s release), all I had to do -with certain clients- was wait patiently and then say the words, “Pulp Fiction”, and they’d start crying. That’s all it took. I’m not blaming their drug use solely on a movie but movies deeply influence and if you don’t think so then this is what the essay’s about.
But back to Weinstein. In case you have not seen it, there has been a large scandal in the media. Scores of women, successful, some very well-known, have come forward to detail mean, ugly, abusive, intimidating & violent behavior from HW, attempting to harangue them into sex acts.
For men to use their power to get sex is a sad, pathetic, horrific reality for so many women, beyond piteous.
Once a long time ago, I forget the building, the office, why I was there, but I remember finding myself in a room with two women speaking to each other matter-of-factly as if I was not there, about going to their cars, in the parking garage, after work.
I’ll never forget, it hit me, thoughts that had never crossed my mind ever, listening to these two women. That all or certainly most women live with a permanent at least low-level constant stress around the possibilities of being harassed, attacked, assaulted, raped or more.
What these Hollywood stories illustrate is that women living with this stress is a simple fact of life, everywhere.
The reports from women detailing Weinstein’s machinations to intimidate or manipulate them in to sex or compromising positions, and the women’s thought processes and actions to somehow come out unscathed while not hurting their chances of work, is painful & makes me nauseous.
I was in the minority opinion on Fiction, and Miramax went on to release many beloved movies (some of them favorites of mine) becoming the ex-post facto critical/financial darling of Hollywood, which begins to illuminate the actresses concern for their future work. That vast power can be placed in a few hands and then offered or pulled depending on the capricious whims of brutal patriarchs with horrific control issues is where the problem begins. This to me is the important nexus point of stories like this. Whether this story, or various bullies at Fox TV, or Bill Cosby’s 30+ years of drugging & raping dozens of women, or our own US President’s admitted assaults, all are beyond unacceptable and I am wrestling with how to even approach writing about it.
Fox-TV and Miramax revelations mean we’re talking about basically reigns of terror at the top of the political media and entertainment world, going on for decades.
In my world, if you have to-in ANY way-force a women’s affectations, you are a scum-bag. Force, coerce, intimidate, you’re the worst kind of loser.
This exposure of rampant harassment of women is simply the hidden shadow, the truer underbelly of patriarchies. It is part and parcel to all of society somehow, that people in power get away with this.
For me the ultimate take-away is that clearly in these long-standing abuse cases, people knew. Weinstein’s assaults were not a secret. That’s not even how the world operates. It’s a small world and repetitive behavior becomes known so for me the issue is our cover-up and denial. And let’s be clear at that point I’m not remotely talking about the victims. I’m talking about others keeping the “secrets”. Years before his court case women came forward about Bill Cosby’s assaults. They weren’t believed. It appears Weinstein had help over the years getting news stories of his assaults squashed. Power is power. This to me is the single number one issue of our times. Our inability or unwillingness (our denial) to see the truth and speak truth to power. To tell it out, in the process freeing those from oppression. We have a broken world, broken systems and we need to end our denial and know there are solutions.
The…..”way we change the culture of sexual abuse in the workplace is to change the way we support women as a society.” Then spread that across all dis-enfranchised peoples. This support isn’t hand-outs, this is support as infrastructure, strengthening the whole. Win-win. Except the patriarch bullies do lose.
When many people are aware of crimes against humanity and no one speaks up, that amounts to a crime, a conspiracy-of-silence.
One of the things I was taught many years ago; if you hate racism or sexism, don’t say you’re not racist, rather proclaim your undying willingness to root out and heal the inherent racism within. Because we are all products of our culture and ultimately our culture is one of hierarchal privilege which breeds a need of someone to look down upon. We all have some racist/sexist/etc. within us from our cultural training and attacking it directly, openly within our hearts will lead us out of this morass. As we grow greater justice and true equality there’s less need to oppress.
So together now, let’s end some denial about drugs; illegal drugs are one of the three largest businesses on earth. That is what we are dealing with and fighting. Munitions (war), oil, drugs; those are the top three $$ businesses on earth. It has been argued, by competent accountant types, that if you lump in Big Pharma with the Global drug trade then drugs are the largest business on earth. Let your mind roam over that folks. Our denial about the “conspiracies” of all this is hurting our solutions and we need to wake up. In many ways, our systems murder people, for profit and control. It’s that simple and that ugly.
If this is a hard pill to swallow, please view this recent 60 Minutes episode on the DEA’s response to drug wholesalers.
“If they don’t follow the law, people die.”
“Multi-billion-dollar drug distributors.”
From where I sit, studying society for as long as I can remember, this Pulitzer prize winning American journalist’s truth-to-power walk through the disease snapshot we are all dealing with, strikes me as deeply accurate.
Recovery gave me a path, a way to start growing, support so I could stomach looking at and within myself on the path to change and even healing. That is the underlying universal spiritual path we humans need. To admit our fallibility and ego-driven foolishness, together – to each other, with intended willingness to change and grow. Then we can grow actual love. Then America has a shot at becoming great.