We’ve had so many scandals involving individuals and institutions exploiting their positions of power in recent history that it is almost a staple in our news streams. The Catholic Church, numerous high profile entertainers, politicians, business executives, professionals in various disciplines ...
Harvey’s outing seems timely though his abuse of women would appear to have run a course almost as long as his career in film production. The Weinstein coverage reads like a simplistic ‘lesson 101’ on corruption and the politics of power but is, unfortunately very real, very tragic and very sad.
Take one man in a position that can make or break a woman’s career. Take a group of women who are painfully aware of this influence. The predator feels comfortable that his victims won’t seek justice because they want roles and a future in his world. The predator feels even more secure for as his victim tally grows, he observes that his peers (not just male) have never brought him to task. Possibly his peers ̶ those who are covertly perpetuating his abuse through their non-action ̶ are as fearful as his victims of shaking up the status quo. In their cases, though it is because the same status quo that allows Harvey’s behaviour also maintains their own professional standing, income and/or prestige.
No different from the church that is in denial of its paedophile priests or the television network that overlooks the predatory behaviour of its top-ranking stars or executives; the misuse of power continues to destroy careers, reputations and even takes lives, while that group of peers remains silent.
And consider the number of victims of institutional and personal abuse who have historically had their lives and reputations shredded because they dared to stand up to the predators! ‘Slut shaming’ is well and truly part of the vernacular and we have all read in painstaking detail of young women’s past relationships and their wardrobe preferences if they have the audacity to point their fingers at the influential man who has fondled their breasts or misled them into thinking their relationship was more long-term than his last ejaculation. I hadn’t heard a lot of ‘rapist shaming’ going on until old Harvey hit the headlines. Institutions and high-worth individuals have a far greater resource for that kind of investigation and usually the contact networks to get those findings to press.
So what causes that tipping point, where those previously in denial suddenly support the victim and turn on the abuser? Was Harvey suddenly not bringing in enough bucks to cover the necessary hush money or was one of his victims suddenly of high enough profile and tenacity to be impossible to ignore? One bright young friend suggested that as ‘she’ was not an actress Harvey’s approval was a false economy in her world and she could stand her ground with minimal risk to her future. Maybe it is a moment in history where the international push-back on Trump’s misogynist behaviour has created a window of opportunity? Possibly is it just social media, allowing for the voiceless to finally speak-out and the powerful to no longer be able to bury those brave voices with money, threats or public diversions through media channels.
Okay, sometimes interpreting these situations does become murky. The usually victimised can seduce, and those who have suffered no abuse can jump on the bandwagon in hope of financial gain when a predator is finally outed. Again, my bright young source of inspiration wisely observed that though the roles are being swapped, the action still takes place within an established framework of misused power.
I remember in an apartment block where I formerly lived, the concierge (a Vietnam veteran; my flat was near the Cross so he was a well-chosen appointment) drew my attention to a man who was being taunted by a group of street kids. He intimated that the man was not ‘nice’ and with a bit of probing by me he shared that he was a paedophile. Had I not known this information I would have misread the situation entirely and cast him as a poor, awkward guy being bullied for money. The additional knowledge changed my interpretation entirely. Corruption breeds corruption.
And back to Henry here.