We­in­stein-like plot twist that be­came a re­al­ity

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - DR CIARA KELLY -

ONE of the most in­ter­est­ing things about the whole Har­vey We­in­stein litany of al­leged abuse was hear­ing the record­ing of him at­tempt­ing to co­erce Am­bra Bat­ti­lana Gu­tier­rez, a young model he had al­ready groped in a busi­ness meet­ing the day be­fore, into his ho­tel room. She had re­ported that as­sault to the po­lice and while she was fil­ing a re­port he rang her and begged her to meet him again. The cops sug­gested she wear a wire so they could lis­ten to what hap­pened. It was like a plot twist in one of his own movies but hear­ing a se­rial sex­ual preda­tor at work was oddly fas­ci­nat­ing.

His wheedling en­treaties. His al­most fran­tic des­per­a­tion to get her into the room. His at­tempts to ma­nip­u­late her with sug­ges­tions she was em­bar­rass­ing him and caus­ing a scene. His at­tempted use of her own in­nate po­lite­ness against her. He tried many dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to coax and bully her into en­ter­ing his bed­room, none of which ul­ti­mately worked, and so he left her in the hall with a com­bi­na­tion of ir­ri­ta­tion and feigned hurt. It was an un­ex­pected recorded ex­am­ple of what ap­pears to be a spe­cific pat­tern of be­hav­iour where We­in­stein seemed en­tirely in­dif­fer­ent to the

‘He clearly felt a sense of en­ti­tle­ment around women’

dis­tress of his fe­male vic­tims and ap­peared to get off on ex­ert­ing power over them — as much as on the sex acts them­selves. He mas­tur­bated as women bar­ri­caded them­selves into bath­rooms and as he blocked their exit from ho­tel rooms, of­fices and restau­rant base­ments. Bring­ing him­self to cli­max while cowed and hor­ri­fied women stood trapped be­fore him was clearly some­thing he had a par­tic­u­lar predilec­tion for. That and de­mand­ing mas­sages that no one wanted to give. He didn’t ask for sex straight out, he pre­tended that wasn’t what he wanted — he just wanted them to help him relax. But then the mas­sage would turn ag­gres­sively into some­thing else. From the nu­mer­ous ac­counts given by women, re­peat­edly say­ing no was ab­so­lutely no bar­rier to him press­ing ahead and it could prob­a­bly be con­cluded that it ac­tu­ally added some­thing to it for him. And all the while as he dan­gled the car­rot of ca­reer suc­cess in front of th­ese girls, they knew the stick of ca­reer de­struc­tion was never far away.

What came af­ter was also in­ter­est­ing. He of­ten fol­lowed up with phone calls sug­gest­ing — de­spite the as­sault — that they should get to­gether again soon. He had a pat­tern of be­hav­iour that at­tempted, post-at­tack, to nor­malise the sit­u­a­tion and pro­tect him­self in quite a cun­ning way. He is a bully. An arch ma­nip­u­la­tor. A ruth­less op­er­a­tor. A sex­ual preda­tor. Those first three char­ac­ter­is­tics made him good at his job which gave him the power to carry out his sex­ual as­saults with im­punity. We­in­stein’s dis­gust­ing treat­ment of women brings Jabba the Hutt with Princess Leia on a leash to mind. It’s likely that he is not nearly as at­trac­tive to women as he would like to be. He clearly felt a sense of en­ti­tle­ment around women but equally he per­haps knew that in re­al­ity none of the women he preyed on found him at­trac­tive. That may have fu­elled some of his anger and ag­gres­sion to­wards them.

The as­saults have left a de­press­ingly long list of women who came into his sights, with last­ing dis­tress from his ac­tions, with al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­saults and rapes stretch­ing back decades. When you broaden it out from that though it isn’t merely a list of sur­vivors. It is a list of women whose ca­reers and lives he ru­ined. Many of his ac­cusers left the movie busi­ness al­to­gether in or­der to avoid ever meet­ing him again. Many oth­ers say a ca­reer tra­jec­tory that was go­ing well, as was ev­i­denced by the fact that they came into We­in­stein’s or­bit in the first place, was sent into obliv­ion af­ter re­ject­ing his ad­vances or af­ter be­com­ing un­wanted ev­i­dence of his al­leged crimes.

Har­vey We­in­stein didn’t only sex­u­ally as­sault women, he de­stroyed them — pro­fes­sion­ally and fi­nan­cially as much as emo­tion­ally. Peo­ple are say­ing there are still ques­tions to an­swer as to how that was able to hap­pen. But many of those peo­ple are also blam­ing women for not speak­ing out. Alas, if it was so easy to speak out it wouldn’t be so easy for the Har­vey We­in­steins to get away with it. So much still needs to change for women.

@cia­rakel­ly­doc

At­tack­ers seek to nor­malise abuse

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