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More to the Harvey Weinstein story than Harvey

By Brendan O'Reilly - posted Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Everybody knew Harvey Weinstein had what turned out to be a fatal flaw. Everybody knew he liked to chase women … Each of (his victims) talked about their own fears or what they believed he might do to them (if they told their stories)....These were mostly women who had worked for Weinstein, and feared they would lose their jobs and reputations and more.

So says Chrissy Iley, a Los Angeles-based journalist.

Weinstein has now apologised for aspects of his behaviour, and (in true Hollywood style) has sought refuge in a $37,000-a-month Arizona rehab clinic. Despite his apology"any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances".

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It seems that, finally, female movie actors (it is unfashionable to call them actresses any more) have discovered their outrage and many have now spoken out. Previously Weinstein had largely been lauded (even by those aware of his misbehaviours), and had been close friends with "strong" women such as Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

The New York Times uncovered compensation paid by Weinstein, including a 1997 payment to actress Rose McGowan of $US100,000 for "an incident in a hotel room". Previous attempts by media investigators, including The New Yorker, to publish a story on Weinstein "fell short of the demands of journalistic evidence". Too few people were willing to speak, and Weinstein allegedly used nondisclosure agreements, payoffs, and legal threats to suppress their accounts.

So is all agreed. This is yet another case of "men behaving badly", and Weinstein is now branded as the stereotypical powerful male boss sexually harassing more junior women employees.

End of story. Or is it?

People are overlooking a big 'elephant in the room', which provides additional insight into why Hollywood tolerated the indefensible for so long.

A clue to what I am referring to relates to Asia Argento, an Italian film actress and director. She told the New Yorker that she did not speak out until now (allegedly) because Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her, and she feared that Weinstein would "crush" her. "I know he has crushed a lot of people before," Argento said. "That's why this story - in my case, it's twenty years old, some of them are older - has never come out."

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The story, however, does not end there.

Argento also admits that she eventually yielded to Weinstein's further advances and even grew close to him. She said that she had consensual sexual relations with him multiple times over the course of the next five years, though she described the encounters as one-sided and "onanistic". "I felt I had to," she said. "Because I had the movie coming out and I didn't want to anger him."

Argento has put her finger on it. The other (unmentionable?) reason why a lot of Weinstein's victims have not spoken out is that, besides the issue of some men behaving badly if they can get away with it, some (but certainly not all) women (in addition to often being attracted to powerful men) use sexual favours as a means of advancing their careers. Where would many of these Hollywood women be without the favour of the casting couch?

According to Wikipedia, the legend of the Hollywood casting couch coincided with the rise of the studio system in the 1910s. Many moguls were rumoured to have been enthusiastic practitioners, and it has been claimed that many actresses attempted, with varying degrees of success, to attain stardom via this route.

The movie industry may not be the worse for this. There is evidence that the problem is even more rampant in the modelling industry, where there is the added issue of even younger girls. Also, it's not only women that are sexually harassed by powerful men in Hollywood. There are also reports of male actors being subject to harassment of a homosexual nature.

Those women in Hollywood and elsewhere, who offer sexual favours as a means of advancing their careers or who seek out the attentions of powerful men, should look in the mirror. They have helped create an atmosphere that contributed to the illegitimate sexual expectations and entitlement mentality of the Harvey Weinsteins of this world. Some women have been "behaving badly" too.

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About the Author

Brendan O’Reilly is a retired commonwealth public servant with a background in economics and accounting. He is currently pursuing private business interests.

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