By Susan England
Alphonse Karr, the nineteenth century French writer once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I keep returning to this quote when thinking of alleged serial sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.
According to multiple accounts, Weinstein was allowed to get away with disgusting and degrading behaviour for years because he was rich and powerful. Weinstein’s behaviour appears to have long been an open secret in Hollywood, dutifully guarded by a well-paid army of protectors. Women who were brave enough to come forward found themselves smeared in the press or blacklisted. When hush money was paid, it appears to have been shrouded in non-disclosure agreements which only serve to protect the powerful from further allegations rather than the women who were abused.
Each day brings further allegations against Weinstein himself and against other men in powerful positions. At the moment it seems Harvey Weinstein’s empire is crumbling about him with no chance of redemption. But what are the chances he will ever do any hard jail time? Historical allegations of sexual misconduct are notoriously hard to prosecute. Possibly realising criminal proceedings are unlikely to be successful, some women are already pursuing Weinstein and his organisation in personal lawsuits. No doubt, his well-assembled army has already tucked away enough funds to assure Mr. Weinstein will suffer no true financial hardship.
Politicians have lined up to donate the amount received from Weinstein in political donations to women’s charities; celebrities have lined up to condemn him and stand by the brave women who have recently come forward, yet the words of British 18th century statesmen Edmund Burke still ring true. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Serious soul searching should take place within each and every person who allowed the alleged sexual assaults to continue and smeared the courageous women who came forward years ago. However, I have doubts such soul searching will ever take place.
Perhaps as our gender continues to hammer away at that glass ceiling, more women will gain positions of power in the film industry and other male-dominated fields, making such abuse less likely. The young optimist inside me sincerely hopes such a time will come to pass. Yet, the weary woman worn down by life’s endless setbacks has serious doubts.