Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has recently been accused of sexually harassing, assaulting, and raping over 50 women. Among the dozens of brave actresses who came forward include Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita Nyong’o, Cara Delevingne, and Angelina Jolie.
The survivors’ horror stories describe appalling encounters with an often bathrobe-clad Weinstein, who would invite the women to his hotel room (under the guise of a business meeting) and subsequently attempt to kiss them, ask for a massage, or simply remove his pants. The producer tantalized and exploited young women, promising them stardom and swearing to destroy their careers if they rejected his advances or breathed a word of the abuse.
Weinstein is emblematic of the larger culture of sexual exploitation and assault in Hollywood. Sexual abuse is endemic in the industry because it thrives on fear. Janice Min, former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, described the nature of the business as such: “It is a dark equation. From the moment the proverbial girl gets off the bus, the odds are stacked against her. In Hollywood, unlike at other Fortune 500 companies, the one-on-one meetings take place in hotel suites and bars. It’s an exploitative and oddly personal process.”
Woody Allen, whose adopted daughter accused him of sexually assaulting her at age seven, shared his thoughts on the Weinstein allegations during an interview with the BBC: “Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that is life is so messed up…You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere…where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself. That’s not right either.” Allen’s ridiculous remarks exemplify the pattern of men protecting other men in the industry. Victims shouldn’t have to fear that reporting incidents of sexual assault will result in their accusal of inciting a witch hunt.
Harvey Weinstein is a predator who deserves to be exposed and condemned for his egregious behavior over the span of so many years. However, some right-wing politicians and pundits are taking this opportunity to rail against the actions of Weinstein, making sure to emphasize that he was an avid Hillary supporter and reviling the perversion of liberal Hollywood. Meanwhile, they neglect to hold the Commander-in-Chief accountable for his own history of sexual misconduct.
For years, Donald Trump has been criticized for his sexist statements and attitudes, and he has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and assault. In the horrendously infamous Access Hollywood tape leaked to the public, Trump brags that when you’re famous, you can do anything to women without permission, including grabbing their genitals.
This pervasive tradition of powerful men engaging in sexual misbehavior should not be politicized. Whether the perpetrator is Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, or Roger Ailes, the focus must be placed on eradicating the culture of oppressing women in show business. A top Hollywood woman said it perfectly: “I hope it's a witch hunt. I hope it's a purge. There are people we have to get rid of in our business. Everyone knows them.”