We­in­stein’s dark legacy a long way from fin­ished

Tampa Bay Times - - Opinion - Con­nie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prizewin­ning colum­nist and pro­fes­sional in res­i­dence at Kent State Univer­sity’s school of jour­nal­ism. She is the au­thor of two books, in­clud­ing “...and His Lovely Wife,” which chron­i­cled the suc­cess­ful race of her hus­band, She

Here we are again, Amer­ica, forced to face our­selves and winc­ing at our re­flec­tion.

We now know, through re­port­ing by the New York Times and the New Yorker, that Har­vey We­in­stein — one of the most pow­er­ful men in Hol­ly­wood and a big-time Demo­cratic donor — bul­lied, de­meaned and sex­u­ally as­saulted women for decades. He also re­port­edly threat­ened to de­stroy their lives if they told any­one.

Let’s not play fast and loose with the “we” here. Most of us didn’t know, but many — lots of those who worked with We­in­stein, as well as others — surely did. For years and years, they knew. This is the clas­sic, dan­ger­ous nar­ra­tive of a pow­er­ful man li­censed to be as free with his as­saults as with his threats. Vir­tu­ally no­body who could have stopped him did.

We’re about nine months into Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency, so it makes twisted sense, I sup­pose, that some of his sup­port­ers have greeted the news of We­in­stein’s mon­strous be­hav­ior as an in­vi­ta­tion to in­dict the char­ac­ter of lib­er­als.

I get it. I do. When you sup­ported the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of an ad­mit­ted sex­ual preda­tor — a man who bragged on a live mic about grab­bing women’s gen­i­tals — you’re go­ing to jump at the per­ceived chance to yell, “See? Lib­er­als! They do it, too!”

When the head of your party has a loud, proud and on­go­ing habit of misog­yny, you might pounce faster than a kitty on cat­nip at the chance to dredge up Bill Clin­ton’s sex­ual mis­con­duct from two decades ago.

And when you’re still sup­port­ing the pres­i­dent who has in­sisted that some of those white su­prem­a­cists who brought their hate to Charlottesville are “very fine peo­ple,” you’re go­ing to dance the happy-feet hal­lelu­jah at the mere thought of be­ing able to change the sub­ject.

The con­ser­va­tive mantra pounded out on so­cial me­dia: “Why isn’t (name your fa­vorite lib­eral tar­get) not de­nounc­ing Har­vey We­in­stein?”

And the cho­rus: Hil­lary Clin­ton! Where’s Hil­lary’s con­dem­na­tion?

1) Hil­lary Clin­ton did con­demn it: “I was shocked and ap­palled by the rev­e­la­tions about Har­vey We­in­stein. The be­hav­ior de­scribed by women coming forward can­not be tol­er­ated. Their courage and the sup­port of others is crit­i­cal in help­ing to stop this kind of be­hav­ior.”

2) Is she sup­posed to go away or not? Somebody needs to make up their col­lec­tive mind.

Speak­ing of minds, guilt sure can mess with them. This might ex­plain the cel­e­bra­tory tone of too many Trump sup­port­ers. If your ar­gu­ment is that the pres­i­dent of the United States doesn’t look so bad com­pared with Har­vey We­in­stein, it’s time to look in the mir­ror and or­der that per­son star­ing back at you to re­turn your soul.

This will now be the dark legacy of We­in­stein, and it is far from over. Lu­cia Evans de­scribed to re­porter Ro­nan Far­row her life, for more than a decade, af­ter We­in­stein forced her to per­form oral sex on him in 2004. From Far­row’s story for the New Yorker:

“‘I just put it in a part of my brain and closed the door.’ She con­tin­ued to blame her­self for not fight­ing harder. ‘It was al­ways my fault for not stop­ping him. … I had an eat­ing prob­lem for years. I was dis­gusted with my­self. It’s funny, all these un­re­lated things I did to hurt my­self be­cause of this one thing.’ Evans told friends some of what had hap­pened, but felt largely un­able to talk about it. ‘I ru­ined sev­eral re­ally good re­la­tion­ships be­cause of this. My school­work def­i­nitely suf­fered, and my room­mates told me to go to a ther­a­pist be­cause they thought I was go­ing to kill my­self.’ ”

She told Far­row that she has night­mares about We­in­stein, still.

The fear, the self-blame and guilt, the se­crecy and haunt­ing tor­ment — this is just some of what vic­tims of as­sault are up against, in ev­ery neigh­bor­hood in Amer­ica. Which is why Har­vey We­in­stein — and the cul­ture that pro­tected him — is our prob­lem, too.

Once again, air­waves are swelling with sto­ries of how money, fame and power al­lowed another sex­ual preda­tor to grab more money, fame and power.

That’s some life les­son our chil­dren are learn­ing.

Are we wor­ried yet?

As­so­ci­ated Press

Lots of those who worked with Har­vey We­in­stein knew about his sex­ual mis­con­duct.


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