Don’t blame the 1960s, Harvey Weinstein!
THERE are certain excuses that only serve to make a person look more of a slimeball. One such was issued by producer Harvey Weinstein last week, who, after being accused of sexual harassment by eight different women, tried to shrug off the claims by saying he had “come of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different”.
Now I’ve been an adult for the three decades over which Weinstein has been allegedly abusing his power, and I don’t remember it ever being anything other than deeply dodgy for a businessman to lure colleagues to his hotel rooms under the pretext of breakfast meetings, ask them to massage him while naked, or watch him shower – all of which Weinstein has been accused of. That this isn’t right is not new. All that’s changed with the passage of time is that men who thought they could get away with it are now starting to be rightly exposed. Weinstein has threatened lawsuits and the detail is not yet clear, but this scandal raises more general issues about recent culture changes which we have seen both here and in the UK.
Among the more damning, but measured, comments to come out so far are those of Lauren O’Connor, Weinstein’s former assistant, who once wrote of the toxic working environment around him for women: “I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world-famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.”
That balance of power is starting to shift – though not nearly quickly enough.