Harvey Weinstein Assault Scandal Emphasizes Prevailing Sexism Under Trump Administration
In the last couple weeks one of the most horrific and disturbing scandals surrounding the Hollywood entertainment industry was exposed. The story told of legendary, Oscar Award-winning, motion picture and television producer, writer and actor, Harvey Weinstein – the man responsible for such films as Gangs of New York, Pulp Fiction, and Shakespeare in Love – sexually assaulting dozens of women in the industry throughout his powerful career as an industry leader.
Harvey’s habit of preying upon women went under the radar for years. Supposedly, the scandal had been kept under wraps by numerous high-level figures in the industry that were seeking to maintain the reputation and success that the empire Weinstein Co. had accrued.
Some of the most esteemed women in the industry came forward admitting to previous advances and assaults by the icon, including Gweneth Paltrow, Cara Delevingne, Angelina Joline, Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, among numerous other who told of their traumatic encounters with Harvey Weinstein. Some of the experiences described included being trapped in a bedroom by a naked Weinstein, listening to Weinstein brag about all of the other A-listers he had slept with, and being encouraged to perform uncomfortably, sensual massages on the predator. The disgraceful actions these incredibly strong women had to endure – while truly significant in bringing attention to the disgusting advances by Harvey Weinstein. Moreover, the prevalence of sexual assault by other powerful men in the entertainment industry are indicative of a much larger issue: the ever-growing and widespread “acceptance” of sexual assault in the nation’s workforce under the current Trump administration.
While wage equality for women is being pressed for in various fields of work around the nation, the more ethically driven, social constructs of the work place are still heavily maintained, in that men in power are still widely using their authority to manipulate and control women in the work place. Bonuses, and raises etc. may be dangled and used as tools to gain other means of gratification from female employees, with threats of termination being used to sway women into verbal contracts of discretion, and performing other favors.
This fact is illustrated by the recent revelations about the disturbed Harvey Weinstein, having been able to hold such high career-entitlement while eroding the dignity and pride of women in the industry for years. These horrible crimes should be punished and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, given the amount of respect our own president-elect appears to have for his wife, daughter, and the rest of the women he has met in his career as a business-mogul, the news of another big industry executive abusing his power over female actresses and employees seems to be a story people have heard too many times before, with the same results of previously exonerated sexual abusers that stood trial, such as Bill Cosby, Victor Salva and Casey Affleck.
Last year the trial of Bill Cosby shook the nation, as the formerly beloved, “clean” comedian stood trail for the drugging and sexual assault of numerous women throughout his career. All these women had finally found the courage to stand together and voice their struggles. Due to a mistrial though, Cosby was let off and allowed to walk free.
Victor Salva, director of the hit horror films Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2, was convicted of child molestation caught on tape, and served 15 months of a 3-year sentence. Victor Salva is a convicted sex offender that has served time for sexually abusing younger boys he directed in his earlier films, yet despite this atrocious criminal background, Victory Salva is still being funded in the industry. Recently Salva released the 3rd production in his horror franchise, Jeepers Creepers 3, and is additionally rumored to be in the works on the 4th title in his franchise, Jeepers Creepers 4 – even with a disturbing past that should have destroyed the sexual perpetrator’s career.
Casey Affleck was put on trial for the extensive sexual harassment and physical assault of producer Amanda White and cinematographer Magdalena Górka, with both ending in an undisclosed, monetary settlement being given to both prosecutors. Affleck later went onto receive numerous highly acclaimed awards, including the elite-held, Golden Globe Award. This again showed that the disrespecting and degrading of a woman in any manner would not affect the success of a man’s career.
Bill Cosby walked free of charge after drugging and sexually abusing various women because of a mistrial, Victor Salva continues to maintain a successful career as a sexual convict, and Casey Affleck is still being given high-profile roles in hit feature productions, with a near certainty of receiving nominations for future, prestigious awards. With all of these sexual assault cases being given a mere slap on the wrist, it is hard to imagine Harvey Weinstein’s case going any differently. Though he was fired as executive of his prestigious Weinstein Co., faces a divorce from his courageous wife, and is being investigated by numerous law enforcement agencies, as shown in previous cases of industry assault cases, it’s predicted that Harvey Weinstein will either retire to live out his days in luxury – given his bouquet of profit from his business and thousands of industry connections – or will slip under the radar, rather than being the first major industry figure to be successful prosecuted and convicted as a serial sexual-assaulter. Either way, appropriate sentencing for the horrible crimes committed by Mr. Weinstein seems unlikely.
While it is empowering for the women of the abuse to step forward and gain support, and for the public to advocate for the heavy-prosecution of such sexual-convicts – without justice, it will only further reflect the depth at which the sexism runs in the motion picture and television industry, and ultimately in every institution of the United States under the current government administration.
The political climate under Trump’s reign is repulsive for women in all fields of work, given the amount of “Harvey Weinstein”-like sharks still in charge of running some of the most profitable organizations in the world. This sinister, sexist, social climate will only continue unless the current administration begins to secure and protects women’s rights. Accountability needs to start being held for the president’s past, current and future treatment of women, so as to ensure that the suffering and trials endured by the women who have come forward in the Weinstein case will not have been in vain, and furthermore, so that the remaining individuals still “Harveying” about the workplace with a misogynistic authority are brought to social and lawful justice. Harvey Weinstein needs to be charged and convicted as a criminal to show entitled men in the workplace that their actions are not acceptable, and that true justice needs to be delivered to these sick, power hungry monsters that have no respect for women as human beings. Only then, can sexism and sexual assault culture of America’s workforce begin to be improved.