This Hol­ly­wood story doesn’t stop with Har­vey We­in­stein

It’s not enough to point to him, or the in­dus­try, when the rot runs so deep

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Of the many hor­ri­fy­ing and shock­ing de­tails in Tues­day’s The New Yorker re­port that movie mogul Har­vey We­in­stein al­legedly raped, sexually as­saulted and sexually ha­rassed more than a dozen women, one that sticks out is a quote from French ac­tress Emma de Caunes, who said We­in­stein ex­posed him­self to her in a ho­tel room in 2010.

“I know that ev­ery­body — I mean ev­ery­body — in Hol­ly­wood knows that it’s hap­pen­ing,” de Caunes said. “He’s not even re­ally hid­ing. I mean, the way he does it, so many peo­ple are in­volved and see what’s hap­pen­ing. But ev­ery­one’s too scared to say any­thing.”

The mag­a­zine’s sear­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into We­in­stein’s al­leged sex­ual pre­da­tion comes only five days after The New York Times pub­lished a metic­u­lous ac­count of three decades of al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment and abuse. The Times pub­lished an­other re­port Tues­day in which Gwyneth Pal­trow and An­gelina Jolie ac­cused We­in­stein of ha­rass­ment.

It’s an in­dict­ment of We­in­stein, who has since been fired from his own com­pany and de­nounced by dozens of A-list stars and film­mak­ers who have worked with him. But it’s also an in­dict­ment of the Hol­ly­wood cul­ture that al­lowed the abuse to con­tinue for nearly 30 years. “Even in an in­dus­try in which sex­ual ha­rass­ment has long per­sisted, Mr. We­in­stein stands out,” The Times noted.

Sex­ual abuse isn’t iso­lated to We­in­stein or the film in­dus­try. This hap­pens in ev­ery in­dus­try, in so­cial cir­cles, in public spa­ces. Keep­ing track of just the fa­mous male fig­ures at the cen­ter of such al­le­ga­tions is ex­haust­ing.

Sex­ual abuse is sys­temic, not sin­gu­lar. Stop­ping it re­quires men to speak up and stand up to other men. It re­quires ac­knowl­edg­ing

that there’s no such thing as “locker room talk.” It re­quires be­liev­ing women so it doesn’t take 20 years for them to feel safe enough to share their ex­pe­ri­ences.

Much has been said in the past few days of the “whis­per net­works” by which women com­mu­ni­cate to pro­tect them­selves, in­clud­ing the one that made at least part of We­in­stein’s be­hav­ior com­mon knowl­edge. Some have asked why no woman has spo­ken on the record about We­in­stein’s be­hav­ior be­fore now. That’s the wrong ques­tion. It’s not the whis­pers we should be fo­cus­ing on but the deaf­en­ing si­lence of by­standers and en­ablers. It’s the cul­ture — within and be­yond Hol­ly­wood — dom­i­nated by toxic mas­culin­ity that ig­nored We­in­stein’s prob­lem­atic be­hav­ior, that let ru­mor re­main ru­mor, and that en­dan­gers women ev­ery­where if it’s not cur­tailed.

The film in­dus­try is built on a sys­tem of sex­ism: Women made up just 7% of the di­rec­tors of the 250 top-gross­ing films do­mes­ti­cally in 2016, a lack of par­ity that’s be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the U.S. Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion. A 2016 study found that women made up only 27% of top film crit­ics on Rot­ten Toma­toes. Hol­ly­wood has long ig­nored women as cre­ative con­trib­u­tors or po­ten­tial con­sumers for the movies it makes.

Films are of­ten cre­ated to tit­il­late male au­di­ences, ex­ploit­ing women in the process, from lurid shots of the fe­male stars of the Trans­form­ers fran­chise to films such as Juras­sic World that re­duce fe­male char­ac­ters to shrill stereo­types to still oth­ers like Taken that sub­ject women to vi­o­lence to mo­ti­vate the male hero. This male-cen­tric view­point fil­ters down to film fans raised on me­dia that de­pict or even cel­e­brate misog­yny, some of whom glee­fully ha­rass women who dare voice opin­ions on films.

The list of men in Hol­ly­wood who have been ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct, ha­rass­ment or as­sault gets longer all the time. Woody Allen. Bill Cosby. Ro­man Polan­ski. Casey Af­fleck and Louis C.K. have been ac­cused of mis­con­duct.

We know We­in­stein isn’t the only one, but how many preda­tors are left that we don’t know about? Ac­cusers risk their liveli­hoods and fur­ther ha­rass­ment by speak­ing out. Some don’t un­der­stand what has hap­pened. Oth­ers are told to get used to it, to “be cool” or “take a joke.”

The Onion cap­tured the prob­lem best with its head­line “How Could Har­vey We­in­stein Get Away With This?’ Asks Man Cur­rently Ig­nor­ing Sex­ual Mis­con­duct Of 17 Sep­a­rate Co­work­ers, Friends, Ac­quain­tances.”

It’s not enough to point at We­in­stein as a prob­lem. The big­ger chal­lenge is chang­ing this cli­mate, call­ing out ev­ery­day ha­rass­ment and sex­ism in Hol­ly­wood and the cul­ture at large.

Ig­no­rance is easy. Ig­nor­ing gos­sip, ig­nor­ing whis­pers, ig­nor­ing a troll yelling at a woman on Twit­ter for not lik­ing Blade Run­ner 2049, that’s sim­ple.

Look­ing in­ward is hard. Ad­mit­ting the prob­lem is big­ger than you thought is hard. But if we don’t, we’ll just be in the same place when it’s the next man.


Hol­ly­wood is tak­ing a painful look within after stun­ning al­le­ga­tions of a decades-long cul­ture of sex­ual abuse by movie mogul Har­vey We­in­stein.

Ro­man Polan­ski

Woody Allen

Louis C.K.

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