The women harmed by Weinstein had no choice but to live in world shaped by his terror. He too doesn’t get a choice in how society remembers him.
Content note: This story discusses sexual harassment, r/pe, and sexual assault.
The news broke last week that the board of the bankrupt Weinstein Company reached a $25 million settlement with multiple actresses and former employees in a class-action civil lawsuit. This week, Weinstein himself is making headlines for an interview he gave the New York Post, where he whines about being “the forgotten man,” lamenting that his work “pioneering” women-led and directed films has been “eviscerated by what happened.”
Reader, my eyes have never rolled so hard.
Clearly, Weinstein hasn’t been forgotten—that the Post jumped at the chance to platform his pity party is proof. What he means is that he now has a reputation as a sexual predator and serial abuser rather than as a genius, entrepreneurial creative. It must be so hard for him to face the consequences after decades of terrorizing women while the people around him looked the other way. So hard that he absolutely needed to orchestrate this publicity stunt to prove his walker is medically necessary and not simply to solicit pity ahead of his criminal trial.
Cry me a river, Harvey.
It’s been over two years since the New York Times and the New Yorker broke the story, and not once has Weinstein expressed genuine remorse or taken accountability for the harm he caused over 80 women in Hollywood. It’s hardly surprising that he continues to center himself and his so-called accomplishments, prioritizing his bruised ego over the lives and wellbeing of the people he’s traumatized. This kind of behaviour is straight out of an abuser’s playbook, and I, for one, am tired of seeing it play out in the media over and over again.
Weinstein argues that 30 years ago, before it was “vogue,” he “made more movies directed by women and about women than any film-maker.” He conveniently ignores that he was also regularly dehumanizing and violating those very women in the process while using his power to silence and retaliate against anyone who dared stand up to him.
Abusers put on a veneer of kindness, carefully crafting a progressive image to distract from the atrocities they commit behind closed doors. This is intentional and by design; a tool to further gaslight and marginalize the people they victimize. They know most bystanders will refuse to look past their masks continuing to believe that the abuser is a genuinely nice person who wouldn’t harm a fly. They know it’s easier and more comfortable to side with a seemingly nice person than it is to stand up for a victim. Passivity is all an abuser needs to continue hurting people, and they know that their charming persona, or in Weinstein’s case, his wealth and power, will get them what they want.
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Weinstein didn’t hire women because he valued their perspective, he did it to gain access to abuse them. Now he’s using this to paint himself as some sort of feminist pioneer so that we forget he’s a violent monster, which would be hilarious if it weren’t so insulting. His claim that he “deserves a pat on the back when it comes to women” is incompatible with the decades of violence and abuse he perpetrated against them. In his active decision to abuse them, Weinstein refused to recognize their humanity. He doesn’t deserve a pat on the back, he deserves a guillotine. He inflicted trauma on dozens of women, completely shattering their sense of self and safety, destroying their livelihoods, and unequivocally changing how they move through this world.
Those women have had to carry the burden of trauma that Weinstein foisted upon them for decades. It’s a burden they never should have had to carry, and they shouldn’t have had to carry it in silence and shame. In a society ruled by a cisheteronormative, white supremacist patriarchy, where survivors of sexual violence are so rarely ever given the justice they deserve, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Weinstein is finally facing consequences for his violence.
Abuse is a choice, and every choice comes with consequences. He, therefore, doesn’t get a choice in how society remembers him, just as the women he traumatized had no choice but to live in a world shaped by the terror he inflicted on them. Though it’s unlikely considering his ongoing narcissistic denial, the least he could do is take the L and go silently into the night, rather than throwing entitled temper tantrums before the press. Weinstein needs to realize that he’s made his bed and no amount of self-pity can get him out of it.
Roslyn Talusan is a Canadian freelance culture writer and anti-rape activist. Represented by The Bent Agency, she’s working on a memoir documenting her experience with workplace sexual violence. Her writing aims to critique media and dismantle societal beliefs that uphold rape culture. You can find more of her work on her website or follow her on Twitter.