“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.” Adrienne Rich
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Plato
Hollywood has erupted with a number of actresses coming forward to speak out regarding the abuse they suffered at the hands of American Producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein and his brother founded Miramax which has been responsible for successful films such as Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting. He has received numerous awards for his work and has been active in issues such as AIDS and Juvenile Diabetes. He was, undoubtedly, a Hollywood powerhouse who had the connections to make or break careers.
Sexual assault is rampant around the world and I have long been an active voice speaking out against it as well as advocating for the victims. I am in no way minimizing what any woman suffers in my comments regarding this particular case but I have some serious concerns and I think they are concerns that should be shared.
Lately, there has been a whole stream of public figures who stand accused of various sexual assaults. Some people are hopeful that this signals a new willingness to expose these atrocities and that they represent our commitment to draw a line in the sand and say “No more.” We seem to circumvent the whole legal process meant to determine guilt and jump straight to judgement. Guilt appears to be amplified by the public lives of the accused. Is it easier for us to comment on a life that we already feel we have a right to because we see them in our own homes on our media devices and on the news? It appears to at least polarize the accusers as legitimate and the accused as guilty. No-one seems to worry about questioning what we read and hear. A trial and its outcome are irrelevant. As long as you have Gloria Allred on one side of the microphone, the truth is irrelevant.
The story never dies and the accused, even if innocent, will never completely recover.
Take away the celebrity cases and look into regular court in your own cities and communities and you will find a whole slew of sexual abuse allegations being made against, mainly men. In family court, those allegations are too frequently proven to be wrong or without substance. The man stands accused and those who are willing to lie in order to punish or hurt, or even sometimes to gain financial reward, are suddenly in the driver’s seat. They have a story with elaborately made up facts. The accused now has to prove a negative. They have to prove that they did not abuse the “pretend victim,” in the manner invented for the false story. These pretend victims are believed and supported BECAUSE there are real victims somewhere and their suffering is real. These false accusers, who themselves should be punished to the full extent of the law, use the very real stories of legitimate victims to further their lies. No-one should be championing these women. No-one should be supporting them. THEY make it harder for the real victims because they amplify the need for suspicion. Real victims are accused of having made it up and the burden of proof required for their justice becomes an even greater weight. These false victims make it less likely that actual victims will come forward and if they do, even more unlikely that they will ever find justice, safety or peace.
Women’s Rights are supposed to put the spotlight on women’s issues. We are supposed to be educating the world and using our sisterhood for the good of all of us. Instead here, we see women using the pain of other women for their own selfish gain. The damage they cause impacts all women.
So there we have the average situation. Now amplify the accusation to the public arena and you have people possibly motivated for the same reasons but possibly more. Now there is a quality of blackmail in taking it public. Damage a public figure and you destroy their career. You and I probably do not care what is happening in a city on the other side of our countries where “John Citizen” has just been accused but we are possibly going to weigh in on “John Celebrity.” Other reasons for false accusation can be aimed at the power of the celebrity to influence the public. Celebrities are involved in issues, they speak out. They interact with important and significant people. Sometimes other people use their celebrity for hidden reasons and they can be caught up in something they never intended to. Celebrities may be able to expose crime or name criminals. They may know about political issues and personalities. They may have done something to anger the wrong people or incited that same anger by not doing what they are told. The accusations made against Donald Trump during the last election are a perfect example. All of a sudden the man was accused of several instances of sexual abuse and yet none of the accusers seem to have followed through. He was never found guilty or even charged with any sexual crime. It seems like it all might just have been part of an attempt to keep him from being elected. Despite there being no real proof, many people still believe the lies as if there had been a conviction. All I am saying is there may be many reasons for people to stand up and make accusations of sexual misconduct without them ever being true. The “pretend victims” are using the public arena to make an accusation purely for some type of gain – financial, revenge, political or business.
I have heard some people insist there are too many women coming forward for Weinstein’s charges to not be true. I hear people swayed by the star quality of some of the accusers. The bigger the star the more we seem willing to believe in their moral integrity, even when there is no evidence of a star having any morals or integrity. Is Weinstein guilty? I have no idea. Just because I state that I am not loading up my own supply of stones to throw does not mean I am supporting him or that I believe he is innocent. It means I don’t know. None of us can say that we do.
But here is where I am most uneasy. I see these women, huge stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie and well-known stars like Rose McGowan and Ashely Judd, coming forward. According to Entertainment Weekly, there are more than 40 women to date. There are others who have not claimed abuse but who say they knew, like Jane Fonda. Many of these women are role models, active in various Women’s groups. Some of them are considered role models for the other actresses. Some of these women are believable, others are repeat accusers.
None of them spoke out? None of them. Not the abused, not the ones who heard about it, not the ones who saw it. This is reported to have been going on for years. They were abused and then they were silent. They did not seek help. They did not seek justice. They did not stand up and use their positions of leadership among women to speak the truth of their own experience and lead by example. I find myself asking why.
The only answer is that ultimately, they all chose their careers over coming forward. If they said anything, they would never work again because Weinstein was that powerful.
I accept that it might have been incredibly painful. I accept that they may have been that damaged. But then, I have to ask, why did they stay? Why continue to work in an industry that operates on that level, with people who see and know and say nothing? Why risk further abuse in an industry with a man so powerful that he had great influence over their careers? They stayed and continued to work and accept the money. They proved that even if they were unwilling to accept his advances, they were team players. They would keep their mouths shut, and in doing so, they were allowed to stay, some of them more successfully than others. They upheld the image and the façade of Hollywood. They played the game. They were part of it.
Now they have come forward. They can thank the other women who came forward and lied for the fact that they are not completely and totally embraced as victims. Can we believe them? There is a climate at the moment, there is a spotlight. Are they choosing to admit victimhood now because it could be good for their career? Would they be willing to lie for that? Was their original silence a lie?
In making their choice they spit in the face of all the other Hollywood victims which many of them heard about and talked with over the years. They did not protect them. They spit in the face of all the women who struggle to come forward in their own lives who risk more than just their careers. For many women, the very real consequences of naming their accuser could mean the loss of their families. It could mean more abuse and possibly death. The fame of a Hollywood actress affords her a protection that the average woman does not have. It offers them a voice that has power. That power is bought and paid for constantly in the high finance world of advertising. Had they used it to speak out, to demand justice, they might have stopped a man, who by their own accounts, was growing bolder. Their example would have been a beacon of light to other women. Instead, Ashley Judd stood and insisted she was a “nasty woman” more powerful than sexual abuse. She assured all women they should be like her and fight against all these injustices. But it was all a lie. She may be a “nasty woman” but she was not championing anyone’s rights . . . not even her own. She was happy to hurl accusations at Trump when again, she had no personal knowledge as to whether any of those accusations were true, but the one truth she could have spoken with complete confidence went unspoken. She was willing to destroy someone else’s life based on a possible lie but she was not willing to stand up for her own truth.
I am sure there are many sexual predators in Hollywood, of course, there are, they are a group of people like any other group of people. Our world is filled with both violence and sexual depravity and predators exist in practically every group you can name. The disregard for one another, the disrespect, the hate, is not about being black, or Muslim, or a woman, it is just the way many people now see the world. We are so bolstered in our sense of entitlement, our “rights,” that we now see other people as just tools that we can use and abuse as our whims and appetites might direct us. We lie, we accuse, and we enable the very actions we are claiming victimhood from. We stand silent and say nothing and we enable the predators and the crime. While predators should be exposed and stand to face their crimes, there are many other who should stand with them. In order for them to continue and to be able to create more victims, there has to be a huge crowd of the people that know what is going on and do nothing. Sadly, in the Weinstein case, that crowd included his victims. Hollywood has no-one to blame for the decay that I believe is going to destroy all of them, but themselves.
Leizi said “Some people think they can find satisfaction in good food, fine clothes, lively music, and sexual pleasure. However, when they have all these things, they are not satisfied. They realize happiness is not simply having their material needs met. Thus, society has set up a system of rewards that go beyond material goods. These include titles, social recognition, status, and political power, all wrapped up in a package called self-fulfilment. Attracted by these prizes and goaded on by social pressure, people spend their short lives tiring body and mind to chase after these goals. Perhaps this gives them the feeling that they have achieved something in their lives, but in reality, they have sacrificed a lot in life. They can no longer see, hear, act, feel, or think from their hearts. Everything they do is dictated by whether it can get them social gains. In the end, they’ve spent their lives following other people’s demands and never lived a life of their own. How different is this from the life of a slave or a prisoner?”
At some point we have to start living the truth. We have to speak it, act it and live it. When you sell out your own integrity for the sake of fame and money, we have made it clear who we are and what matters. Those who were abused who said nothing, those who saw and were silent, those who heard and did not act, share the responsibility for this mess.