So, Harvey Weinstein is in rehab. If a 12-step recovery group is a part of that rehab, his introduction before a “share” must be a mouthful: “I’m Harvey and I’m addicted to running a company which allows me to use my power to systematically abuse women.”
It’s a very specific addiction, isn’t it? Some addictions are. I knew a woman who couldn’t stop eating washing-up sponges. Another bloke I knew had to lick every tap in the house before he went out. It’s not that he likes the aftertaste of Viakal. It’s a compulsion: he feels that if he doesn’t act on it, the sky will fall on his head or something.
Needless to say, sex addiction is massively misunderstood if Weinstein’s actions are attributed to it.
Any addiction is hard to describe to someone who isn’t an addict. “So, you do this thing that gives you pleasure for a moment but then plunges you into a valley of pain and despair? So why not just stop?”
“Stop? Why, I never considered that for a moment. There was me thinking I had to break into a house to steal a Nintendo Wii so I could have a few moments’ bliss on the floor in a toilet in Soho with a filthy needle. But I can just stop, you say? Marvellous. Next time I get the urge I’ll remember that and have a buttered roll instead.”
By rushing straight off to rehab, Weinstein is begging for our compassion: “I know I hurt these women, but it’s an addiction! I need a second chance!”
No mate, you messed up your second chance the second time you treated a young woman as your personal piece of ass. I dread to think how long ago that was. Eating 30 doughnuts in a row every morning – that’s what someone could call an addiction. Whipping out sex confidentiality forms to be signed which make bonking you part of a movie deal is called being an insidious cretin.
Weinstein tells reporters, “We all make mistakes.” But Hollywood has been making these “mistakes” for decades. Finally, our culture has moved forward enough to give women the courage to speak out.
None of the reports from the women who have spoken up have indicated his actions caused him a moment of remorse. He even reportedly asked Kate Beckinsdale if something had happened between them when she met him at 17. So accepted has this kind of behaviour been in his industry that he had the boldness to make such a ghastly enquiry as though he was asking, “Have we ever been to a Wetherspoon together?”
As an addict myself, I’ve spent enough hours of my life listening to others in 12-step programmes to make the wild assumption that Weinstein’s actions weren’t the compulsions of an addict. They were the actions of a man who knows exactly how a young woman, filled to the brim with excitement and ambition, will feel in his company and so will pull the rug from under her feet to let her know how expendable she is, how she must please him to get ahead. His industry has turned a blind eye to the actions of powerful movie men like him for too long to bear.
So why didn’t these women speak up sooner? Why, if he was so awful, have we not known before?
It is they who need our compassion and understanding; if you’re young and your heart is racing because you are about to meet someone powerful, someone who can help make your dreams come true, you might be knocked for six when that person tries to coerce you into sex. You are afraid to react because, frankly you’re shocked and didn’t have your guard up in the way you would when, say, you were walking through a subway alone at night. You’re afraid. You fear he will crush your dreams. Men like Weinstein know this. He will have known how in awe of him those young women would be. How they would trust him, and be desperate for him to recognise their potential.
That’s not addiction or compulsion. That is someone who has been emboldened by their position of power to visit the darkest part of their nature, the part that has no empathy and causes harm.
Calling someone out on this sort of thing is tough. You feel like you’re hurling a grenade and exposing something that will shake the whole place up. As women and girls, we are so often conditioned to “keep the peace” and not “cause a fuss”. It’s scary to speak up.
Somehow we need to make our girls understand that the predator who lures them to a private space and tries to make them do things they do not want to do is the bastard who threw the grenade. However much money he spends on rehab, it’s Weinstein who has blown Hollywood up.
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