Rape Culture Flag Waving

I watched a brief TV clip showing Harvey Weinstein, disgraced Hollywood movie mogul, getting out of an SUV saying, “Everyone makes mistakes. A second chance, I hope.”

A second chance?

So the first time you requested that a very young actress touch your private parts, with the understanding that a role was hanging over her head, and you know that was wrong  and is considered sexual harassment and not how to treat people in your professional capacity (or really, at all)…did you own it? Did you apologize to her? Did you make it right with that young impressionable woman and never do it again? To anyone? Did you get a second chance?

Because that was your second chance.

Men like that have had 30 years of second chances. Second chances to fuel their black hole of an ego. They’re too disgusting and undesirable naturally either by their physical appearance or personality or both to attract a woman honestly, so they have to leverage their power in order to feel good about themselves. It’s a story as old as time.

And now we can all stand around and talk about men like this and wring our hands and tsk tsk at him and watch him go off to “rehab” for his “addiction” as we watch him crash to the bottom of the valley he created off the dignity and hard work of young dreamers. Soon, as more of these leaches are exposed, some brilliant entrepreneur, maybe even a a woman, will establish a new rehab facility called Asshole. And as much as I like a redemption story, when it’s been going on for so long, chosen behavior for so long, is there really redemption at that point?

Years ago, I watched an interview with Corey Feldman. He’s an actor of my generation. He was Mouth in Goonies and the weirdo in both Stand By Me and The Lost Boys. With fellow young actor Corey Haim, they became known as “the two Coreys.” The interview addressed the ongoing and dark secret of young boys being molested by powerful people in Hollywood. He and Corey Haim both admitted to being sexually abused as boys while they were child actors. Both had substance abuse issues in their teens and adulthood, and Corey Haim actually succumbed to his in his 30’s. But when he talked about all that was going on out in the open in Hollywood, no one really did much of anything. No one cared. I always wondered why.

When the Catholic Priest scandals were exposed, the horror was, of course, with what these individual priests – entrusted with our children – were doing. But it wasn’t just that. It was the establishment church and leadership who stayed silent and moved these priests around to other places, all along knowing what they were.

Victims of this kind of treatment stay silent for many reasons, a big one is due to shame. Shame can be an overbearingly powerful thing, especially with young children, adolescents, innocent minded young adults. In my novel, Scout’s Honor, Scout is taken advantage of by a much older, married man in a position of trust. That story, too, is as old as time. Goes on every day all over the world. A recent reader told me that mywoman-902213_640.jpg book would be an excellent companion to all the girls in residential treatment centers, where she used to work. Because in most cases, that is why they are there. That is why they are laden with emotional and mental problems – they’ve been sexually abused or exploited.

One of the strongest motivators of Scout’s silence was the shame she carried with her. The book I wrote spanned over 32 years, and during all that time, Scout never told a soul about what happened to her. The shame became such a part of her that there was no shedding it. But her victimization was small potatoes. It was just one nobody, regular man and one nobody, regular girl back in 1980s North Carolina. But his power over her life was no less damaging than all the young actresses trying to climb a very high, difficult ladder in Hollywood through the likes of Harvey Weinstein.

I remember being appalled that Bill Cosby was accused by so many women of such horrible sexual assault crimes. But it wasn’t until there was a long line of them that anyone took notice. Like everyone, we looked at Cosby as a much beloved American figure. How could America’s Dad be a rapist? But like always, surrounding the pervert are the women who defend him by destroying the accusers, are the women who stand by them despite their crimes. They, too, add to the damage of victims because they know and even sometimes, point fingers. They know their husband/father/loved one is an Asshole. They just don’t want to lose what they thought they had or who they thought he was.

One of the biggest laughs I had over all this latest exposure was Hillary Clinton getting all righteous and indignant about Harvey Weinstein. Did she forget that her own husband was accused by several women of sexual assault? Instead of kicking him to the curb and standing up for these women, she went off to destroy them. And for what? Her marriage? Her political ambitions? And she is supposed to be an advocate of women? No. That’s just protecting your own self and what you have…and your Asshole husband. Sadly, she behaved no differently than a lot of women in that situation. And then there are the women who then and now still fawn over Bill Clinton, all while knowing that he is one of these men. Just like Cosby. Just like Trump. Just like Weinstein.

See…there’s a reason why sexual assault accusations do not follow men like Barack Obama and George Bush. Because no matter how you feel about their policies and politics, they are most likely decent human beings who do not sexually harass or assault women for their own pathetic desires and shortcomings. I’m not saying that they haven’t had their own personal failings, but you don’t see either one woman or a parade of women coming out of the woodwork making such claims about them. Their wives don’t have to destroy all the other women or victims because there’s nothing to destroy.

What is sad is that it took all of these years for so many women to speak out. It took so many years that this titan in Hollywood got to have a wife, children, build an empire, live lavishly and do whatever he wanted. And it’s not just Weinstein. Lots of people sitting in powerful spots – whether they’re a parish priest, a Hollywood producer or the President of the United States – oftentimes are so successful especially because of this unrelenting part of their personality.  They may have tremendous talent and have put in their hard work, but they are drawn to this power so they can feed their bottomless egos with manipulation, intimidation and fear of our young people who believe they’re powerless or don’t know better.

What is sad is that so many women knew it was happening and said nothing. What is sad is that there will still be women who disparage victims because they want to save whatever lie they’re living. Women have turned a blind eye to their philandering husbands for as long as there have been human beings, and that’s their prerogative. There are all kinds of marriages and arrangements. But turning a blind eye to sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape? No. You’re a part of the problem of why men like that believe they can do whatever they want.

That’s why it’s a culture. That’s why it’s called “Rape Culture.” Because these men are not the only ones culpable. The women (and men, too) who let it happen or destroy victims to save what’s their’s or assist in promulgating the facade, enabling it all…they, too are culpable. Rape Culture is as a part of this culture as the American Flag. It’s just nobody is waving it around all the time until one of these long held secrets gets exposed at last.

Then there’s the fallout, the public shaming of the Asshole. Then the articles and talk shows and books deals happen. Then…back to normal. Until it is exposed again.

It’s good to see so many women at last expose the truth, a truth that was well known within the elitist frequencies and suspected by anyone who pays attention.

Despite my cynicism, I like to think that women are chosen for jobs because of who they are and what they have accomplished and what they could contribute as a professional. I like to think that most men in power are not like Weinstein. If there is ever a day that all women are hired or chosen or given an opportunity by someone with extraordinary power, simply because she was the best for the job and not because of her sexual objectification and glorification, then there will be progress. But the fact that women are now speaking out and Weinstein’s wife filed for separation rather than try to destroy all of these actresses’ reputations shows that there is indeed progress. It just takes a long, long time.

Thanks for reading one woman’s perspective, observations and musings,

-Dori

 


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