The Harvey Weinstein dilemma, and why we have a part to play

By Hannah Newberry

Western news so far this year has been dominated by inaction and apathy in retaliation to violence and degradation against women. Hugh Hefner received obituaries and applause for his ‘liberation’ of women by deciding sexualisation and animalistic treatment was a better life than the prospect of being a Conservative, child bearing and submissive wife.

Through various rape, drug and financial confessions of victims – the voice commending a man who built an empire out of sadism and abuse rises loud and clear. Women exist to please men, and mockery will ensue if they don’t fit these rigid ideals. We need an alternative.

Is toxic masculinity to blame for the common characteristic that exacting harm on women is equivalent to exuberating power? Has the mentality that women need to be owned ever died out? We’re hearing the rhetoric of, ‘I have sisters’ and ‘I have daughters’ far more than was ever necessary. You don’t have to have a female relative to know that women deserve respect.

With the White House falling increasingly silent on sexual incidents as Trump condones such acts even in sick humour, where is the authority to end this? After Harvey Weinstein has been called out for numerous non-consensual advances, and those who have come forward have been listened to, there’s no better time to address how we can prevent waking up to these awful headlines every day.

Weinstein hid behind an array of excuses that normally permits these problems to vanish quickly and quietly. ‘I’m a good guy’ – as if feeding the ducks once a week or giving to a children’s charity negates the atrocity of the way these women were treated. ‘It was the culture’ – yet most men shaped in the 70s don’t appear to have come out dependent on sexual assault to feel comfortable in themselves. We’re so used to these excuses that when the bad guys confess, our silence is complicit in their actions.

A genuine need to cause fear and incite cruelty on those most susceptible to harm is now an issue of politics, and not just culture. Violence is so closely associated with the power that men are taught to aim for.

Yet this isn’t addressed, due to the denial that democracy could possibly allow the existence of such a mentality. Emma Thompson delivered a humbling grasp on Hollywood from a female’s perspective, and the truthful rhetoric of, ‘it’s the same story’ is what makes this issue truly tragic.

This behaviour can be attributed to the breeding of some men into a world of violent pornography at the click of a mouse. When material that instigates the freedom to punish people doesn’t offer reprimand for its content, it’s hard to tear down the walls of a fantasy world and explain that this is not okay.

When the fragility of a naked person begging for release from one’s grasp on a budget camera is a normal Friday night in, this unfortunately can lead to inappropriate and disgusting sexual behaviour. The example that this sets for future generations is unacceptable and there needs to be a focus on more suitable role models to counteract these actions.

Only last week the golden, showbiz world of the film industry have slowly begun to disown Weinstin. The British Film Institute have stripped him of his Fellowship, and in the weeks ahead it is likely many others will follow suit. If we are to see the end to these actions, a clear example needs to be made of Weinstein so that others see the consequences of his despicable behaviour.

Questions need to be asked of our society as it is one that currently lets the powerful get away with too much, and that is also true in many other aspects of life. We also need to understand how long the problem has gone on for. Only then can it be truly resolved.

To combat Weinstein, our society must realise that he is one in a sea of predators. The promising news of how an abusive, corrupt kingpin could lose a whole empire of respect after years of sexual abuse allegations is all we need to recognise.

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We are more than capable of revolting against this systematic barbarity.

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