If Harvey Weinstein's accusers accept a payout, they're doing nothing for other women

Weinstein has always been known for tempestuous behaviour and generous gifts to workers who have done well – but how did he manage to suppress stories of his predatory behaviour with these young women who were intimidated by his power? 

Janet Street-Porter
Friday 06 October 2017 17:29
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Harvey Weinstein, Jay Z, Michael Che, Jeffrey Toobin, and Gayle King speak onstage during TIME AND PUNISHMENT: A Town Hall Discussion, March 2017, New York
Harvey Weinstein, Jay Z, Michael Che, Jeffrey Toobin, and Gayle King speak onstage during TIME AND PUNISHMENT: A Town Hall Discussion, March 2017, New York

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? The New York Times has published a devastating investigation into movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women. The dossier lists numerous instances of alleged sexual harassment and intimidation going back almost 30 years, taking place in luxury hotel suites in London, Dublin, Beverly Hills and the South of France.

Weinstein’s victims (including the actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan) all tell similar stores, although the women did not know each other. He would invite them to his room for a “meeting” and then appear in a bathrobe, inviting them to “massage” him or watch him have a shower.

Employees tell of being asked to get him up in the morning, or perform “turndown duty” or “prepare him for sleep”.

Weinstein has always been known for tempestuous behaviour and generous gifts to workers who have done well – but how did he manage to suppress stories of his predatory behaviour with these young women who were intimidated by his power? Company officials confirmed that eight have received financial settlements in return for silence. Weinstein has claimed that some of the allegations are false, but he’s hired a lawyer and taken leave of absence.

Lisa Bloom, who is advising him on “gender power and dynamics”, explained that he was “an old dinosaur learning new ways”. Weinstein initially issued a statement claiming he “came of age in the Sixties and Seventies when all the rules about behaviour and workplace were different. That was the culture then.”

He’s now apologised, but will he sue The New York Times for libel? I doubt it. As one former employee put it, “In the balance of power, it was me: 0, versus Harvey: 10.”

Time and time again, women think they won’t be believed and accept money to keep their mouths shut. Making that choice doesn’t help other women.

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