Where Were the Feminist Women Who Should Have Stopped Weinstein?

Forget waiting for Superman. I’m waiting for Wonder Woman.

Since the various stories of Harvey Weinstein’s crimes and misdemeanors have appeared in the news this week, I keep looking for one in which a woman tells Weinstein to take a flying leap (or something a little more explicit) in a public place. I kept looking for the woman who would throw her drink in the face of the lecherous serial harasser and rapist at some cocktail party or restaurant. Instead, I found a whole lot of women (and men) who were concerned that Weinstein would take them off movie projects and ruin their careers in Hollywood.

I’m not talking about his rape victims here. The description of events from people who were assaulted when they were alone with him sound traumatic and one can hardly blame them for running in the other direction. Rosanna Arquette, for instance, claims that Weinstein asked for a massage and when she refused he forced her head down toward his penis. At that point Arquette said she told him, “I’ll never be that girl,” and left. And good for her.

But what about all the other women and men of Hollywood—everyone from the female executives at his company to the secretaries (many of whom were used as “honeypots” to lure in Weinstein’s victims and then leave the room when he gave the signal)? Where were they?

It’s been more than a half-century since Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem told women it was time to join together in solidarity and liberate themselves from their husbands and bosses. What the heck are these ladies waiting for? Weinstein’s offices sound like they are few steps backward from Mad Men.

It’s not that feminism hasn’t produced its share of demands and sloganeering. From “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” to “no means no” to parades of “nasty women” with “pussy hats,” it would be nice if, when push came to shove, just one of them said, “Who do you think you are? How dare you bring women in here and treat them like they’re pieces of meat?” But, as Ronan Farrow wrote in his piece for the New Yorker, “None of the former executives or assistants I spoke to quit because of the misconduct, but many expressed guilt and regret about not having said or done more.”

Well they should be feeling guilty. I know it is not reasonable to expect every person in an office to stick their neck out over the poor (or legally questionable) treatment of others they witness. But surely it’s reasonable to expect that someone would. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow claims that she was twenty-two years old when Weinstein came on to her in a hotel room. According to the New York Times she decided to speak out now because “Ms. Paltrow, 45, is now an entrepreneur, no longer dependent on securing her next acting role.”

Oh come on. Paltrow hasn’t been dependent on Harvey Weinstein for almost two decades, but it was not in the best interests of her career to tattle on him. And maybe this is part of the problem. Feminism in recent years has been focused on women’s advancement in the workplace—whether they are earning as much as men, whether they are being promoted at the same rates. Are women leaning in enough?

But maybe these issues are secondary. HuffPost has recently launched a series of videos in which men are supposed to talk to their daughters about feminism. Somewhere in these speeches, one of these dads might suggest that people, no matter their sex, should be treated respectfully. And that both men and women have a duty to intervene when they’re not. Even if it means you will not make it to the top of the corporate ladder, or break the glass ceiling or get an Oscar, sometimes it’s worth the sacrifice. Sisterhood is powerful, but so is human dignity.

Image: Pexels/Tookapic

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8 responses to “Where Were the Feminist Women Who Should Have Stopped Weinstein?

  1. Not exactly new positions. Remember when Gloria Steinem defended Bill Clinton’s behavior in an op-ed in the Times?


    There was such an uproar after that the Times apparently thought it appropriate to scrub it from its archives (try finding it; you won’t).

    This is probably what Maureen Dowd had in mind last year when she said, “Feminism sort of died in that period,” she said Monday in an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric. “Because the feminists had to come along with Bill Clinton’s retrogressive behavior with women in order to protect the progressive policies for women that Bill Clinton had as president.”

    So it has always depended on what other interest are in play.

    1. I agree that was the turning point because it demonstrated a lack of principle. After Clinton, such behavior was a cost-benefit analysis.

      One other thing that should be noted, it isn’t just the executives and enablers that are corrupted but the women who went along with the requests. And logic tells you there must be many, many of them as not even a clown like Weinstein would act that way unless it was successful way more than it was not. How many made the devil’s bargain? Twice victimized, these women and their friends would be silenced out of embarrassment.

      Look how hard it was for those who rejected his advances to come forward. The silence is not just cowardice, not just “the right will have a field day if this comes out”, but shame on a grand scale.

      1. The women Weinstein raped are corrupt?

        Do understand that this was about power? You’re never done something you did not want to do because someone in power put you in an untenable position? If not, you are lucky. If so, you are corrupt yourself by your own definition.

  2. …and I’m guessing there are many victims of a powerful man like him…who today still are not powerful…but whoare silent. And suffer silently. Why silent?

    Look how badly the three women who publically said repeatedly they were attacked by Bill Clinton!

    1. We may never know the full truth about what Clinton did and did not do. He did something, but we we may never know how much of the reporting was true.

      “When he was a writer for The American Spectator, Mr. Brock also wrote an article titled ”Troopergate,” in which he reported accusations from Arkansas state troopers about Bill Clinton’s private life when he was governor of Arkansas. Later, when Mr. Brock was working on a biography of Hillary Clinton, he had a change of heart about the attacks on the Clintons and has since defended them.”

      “Book Author Says He Lied in His Attacks on Anita Hill in Bid to Aid Justice Thomas”
      Alex Kuczynski and William Glaberson
      The New York Times
      June 27,, 2001

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