How can decades of sexual harassment fall upon the deaf ears of the press for so long? How can a man pressure and victimize so many women without suffering the consequences of his heinous actions? Meet Harvey Weinstein, movie mogul and alleged sexual predator.
Weinstein’s prominent work in the film industry began in the late 70’s when he and his brother founded a small company called Miramax. It would soon develop into one of the most successful film companies the U.S had ever seen, producing great movie after great movie. Just a few mold-breaking films released by Miramax included The Thin Blue Line, The English Patient, and Pulp Fiction.
After decades of success in the independent film industry, female actresses began coming forward with sexual harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein. His alleged inappropriate actions ranged anywhere from approaching young actresses in his bathrobe, offering massages, blocking doorways to force kisses upon the women, and rape.
According to BBC News, as many as twenty female actresses have come forward with their own horrific experiences with Weinstein, and many more are arising. Kate Beckinsale, famous for starring in the Underworld movies, claims that Weinstein attempted to engage in sexual relations with her in his private hotel room when she was 17. She explains, “I was incredibly naive and young and it did not cross my mind that this older, unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him. After declining alcohol and announcing that I had school in the morning I left, uneasy but unscathed.”
Lea Seydoux, famous for her role as Emma in La vie d’Adèle (Blue Is the Warmest Color), remembers a terrifying night when she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein. One night when she was invited to his hotel room to chat, she recalls, “We were talking on the sofa when he suddenly jumped on me and tried to kiss me. I had to defend myself. He’s big and fat, so I had to be forceful to resist him. I left his room, thoroughly disgusted. I wasn’t afraid of him, though. Because I knew what kind of man he was all along.”
BBC News reports, “The New York Times reported that in 1997 Weinstein reached ‘a previously undisclosed settlement with Rose McGowan’ after an alleged episode in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival.” This settlement amounted to $100,000, but it was not a confession to the crime; apparently it was in order to “avoid litigation and buy peace,” legal records show. After more and more accusations have come forward against Weinstein, McGowan has publicly revealed that Weinstein raped her in the past. Weinstein denies any and all non-consensual sex with the women who have come forward with the allegations.
One might ask, how is it possible that such a popular producer in charge of recruiting hundreds of female actresses in his movies escape a history of sexually harassing women unscathed for decades? The answer is much more politically motivated than we may have originally thought.
People knew the truth long before the women affected by Weinstein started coming out publicly with their terrifying recounts. According to Lee Smith, writer for The Weekly Standard, reporters had been intimidated into not publishing incriminating articles against Weinstein. Smith states, “Sharon Waxman, a former reporter at The [New York] Times, writes in The Wrap how she had the story on Weinstein in 2004—and then he bullied The [New York] Times into dropping it. Matt Damon and Russell Crowe even called her directly to get her to back off the story.” At the time, Miramax was not so coincidentally a big advertiser to The New York Times. Waxman’s editor, Jonathon Landman, was perplexed to hear that Weinstein and other celebrities would urge The New York Times to stay quiet. He asked Waxman why a story on Weinstein’s sexual harassment would matter, considering he isn’t a “publicly elected official.”
If you thought pressuring the press to keep quiet was bad, there’s a whole other layer to this stinking, shut-everyone-up sandwich. Weinstein and his lawyers’ silencing doesn’t stop at intimidating single reporters–even Manhattan’s district attorney campaign was given a healthy sum of money for not pursuing the sexual harassment claims legally. Smith states, “In 2015, Weinstein’s lawyer donated $10,000 to the campaign of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance after he declined to file sexual assault charges against the producer.”
Even some of the most powerful political figures had a stake in the protection of Weinstein. Allan Smith and Skye Gould of Business Insider present how Weinstein’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations have funneled within a large group of prominent members of the Democratic party. According to Smith and Gould’s chart, Weinstein has directly donated $894,373 to democratic representatives, senators, former secretaries of state, and even past presidents. He’s indirectly donated $1,422,683 to these individuals through the use of “bundles” or “bundler money.” In total, Weinstein and however many cronies he could muster to donate gave the democratic party a whopping $2,317,056. These donations secured Weinstein a seemingly impenetrable, unofficial seat in the democratic party.
Since the multitude of allegations have come out and received a flush of media attention, many democratic beneficiaries have given their donations to charity. Hillary Clinton, after almost a week after hearing of the startling amount of victim confessions, released a statement. She said, “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.” The Clinton’s also claim that they’ll be giving Weinstein’s donations to charity, but if the Clinton Foundation scandal with Haiti tells us anything, it’s that we really shouldn’t be expecting much affirmative action from Hillary and Bill anytime soon.
Barack Obama, the beneficiary to probably receive the most in total donations, has also denounced his once admired companion Weinstein in the wake of numerous accusations. According to Dave Boyer from The Washington Times, Weinstein raised millions for Obama’s campaigns and even hosted fundraisers in the Obama family’s home back in Westport, Connecticut. This was back in 2008 and 2012–Weinstein had already been sexually harassing a plethora of female actresses by then, and he was sure to continue as long as he received the support he needed from his democratic beneficiaries.
As analytical individuals, we must carefully access the information we’ve been given regarding the terribly unfortunate and muddy situation between Weinstein, his accusers, and the democratic leaders who benefitted from his generous donations. It’s one thing to assume a man’s innocence; it’s another thing to assume a man is guilty of the sexual harassment and assault of 20+ women. However, something just doesn’t add up.
We can only suspend our disbelief so far before we start to call bologna on these prominent political figures’ blissful ignorance. Women recall instances of Weinstein’s sexual harassment from as early as the dawn of the 90’s–about two decades after the creation of his and his brother’s company Miramax. Word gets around, especially for celebrities in Hollywood. Even if many of Weinstein’s alleged victims were afraid to approach the authorities with valuable information regarding his totally inexcusable behavior, word would get around from behind closed doors.
Brad Pitt confronted Harvey Weinstein in front of a large group of other celebrities after his then girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow revealed to him that Weinstein had been requesting massages, according to BBC News. That was back in the early 2000’s. Additionally, if actresses like Lea Seydoux “knew what kind of man he was” even before they were sexually attacked by the producer, why wouldn’t more people know? How on earth could the beneficiaries of Weinstein’s donations, many of whom rose to power largely due to his help, not know about any of this?
The answer is simple: they did know. People like Hillary Clinton–a supposed paramount advocate for women’s rights–knew the whole time that the man who was gifting her and her husband hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own political gain was sexually harassing young women, many of whom were young and naive aspiring actresses. Michelle Obama and her husband, also widely renounced women’s activists, knew what this man was doing to women while they received paycheck after paycheck from him. Michelle Obama, the woman who claimed that women who never voted for Hillary Clinton in some way voted against their own sex, let a known sexual predator into her own home for politically motivated, corrupt reasons. It was all for the money.
In the end, these women were hurt. They were hurt both physically and mentally by a man who utilized his power in the film industry to bully and lure women into his chambers and do unthinkable things to them. He promised them leading roles in films, a secure place in his business, and recommendations to other producers. When women denied his lewd passes, he confronted them face-to-face and intimidated them into succumbing into his filthy pleasures. If they still denied, even if they were perfect for the roles they sought, they feared that they would be terminated and marked as unprofessional, untalented stains on the prosperous film industry.
What makes the situation more disgusting is the fact that so many democratic political figures had the power to shed light on Weinstein’s unacceptable behavior, but they didn’t. This was because they knew that if Weinstein was to gift them donations, he would need to be protected so that their party and the individuals in it could gain even more political power. Women like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, two intelligent, supposed devoted women’s rights activists, knew what Harvey was doing, but they did nothing to try to stop him. They never went to the press, they never requested to not receive donations, they merely accepted his gracious money and grew more powerful because of it. If they weren’t so concerned with his money rather than the awful things he was accused of doing to over 20 women, they would’ve at least responded more quickly. It takes Hillary Clinton less than 24 hours to insult a victim affected by Bill Clinton’s long string of sexual harassment and assault. It also takes over 120 hours for her to admit that what Weinstein did was wrong.
“Harvey Weinstein scandal: Who has accused him of what?” by BBC News
“Here’s how much the Clintons and Obama received from Harvey Weinstein” by Allan Smith and Skye Gould of Business Insider
“‘Disgusted’ Obamas were star-struck by Hollywood mogul Weinstein’s access, cash” by Dave Boyer of The Washington Times
“The Human Stain: Why the Harvey Weinstein Story Is Worse Than You Think” by Lee Smith of The Weekly Standard