Don’t blame the 1960s, Har­vey We­in­stein!

The Herald on Sunday - - COMMENT -

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.

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