Harvey Weinstein and Other Abusers

(For those who need it, a warning: I’m talking rape and sexual assault here today.)

First, the latest on Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual abuse of women, from the New Yorker and the New York Times. There are more news stories out there — lots more — but those two cover a lot of ground on the present state of things.

And now, some thoughts, not necessarily in order of importance.

1. Harvey Weinstein is by all indications a rapist and general piece of shit. Just to put that out there up front, so there’s no confusion. He deserved to be fired by his company (as he was) and should almost certainly be in jail.

2. He’s also solely responsible for his own actions. Which apparently comes as a shock to the scads of people who, when the news got out, started wanting to blame prominent film people who knew him (particularly women) for their silence, and the people who worked for him for not taking a stand against him. I’ll get to both of these things in a minute, but look: Harvey Weinstein intentionally and systematically sexually abused women, sexually harassed women and targeted them for sexual coercion. He promised professional advancement and threatened professional oblivion in order to compel sexual compliance, and bribed and threatened women for their silence. And he did this, it appears, over three decades. He owns it.

3. But what about the systematic problem of harassment in the film and television industry, you ask? Well: Yes, it is there, and yes, Weinstein both participated in it and furthered it for his own pleasure, and yes, it needs to be addressed and rooted out, and anyone who sexually coerces another person should be punted hard on their ass. But let’s be clear that Weinstein was not compelled against his will to participate in it and to further it. He did that on his own. He was the author of his own moral story, and his moral story sucks. Acknowledging that Weinstein is solely responsible for his own choices neither ignores or exculpates the systematic issues of the entertainment industry. He raped and assaulted women. He owns that.

4. While we’re on the topic, let’s dispense of some other nonsense. Weinstein tried to imply that coming of age in the 60s and 70s meant his moral compass was pointed a few degrees off true. Well, that’s bullshit; I know lots of people who came of age in the 60s and 70s who know perfectly well sexual coercion and rape is immoral. Pretty much all of them, in fact. Donna Karan (who is apparently one of the few who does not) just made news by sort of airily suggesting that issue with Weinstein was more that he was a symbol of various sexual issues than a real live man who raped and sexually assaulted numerous women, and well. No. It’s possible he is both, but any story framing that attempts to keep his personal actions from being front and center is crap. He wouldn’t be a synecdoche for these issues if he wasn’t a coercive assaulting piece of shit. Any explanation of Weinstein’s behavior that does not center his own choices is a bad one. He’s a grown man. He knew what he was doing, and he knew what he was doing was wrong. He did it anyway.

5. What about the staff at Miramax and The Weinstein Company who knew — or at least could guess — what their boss was up to but did nothing about it? I’m not here to excuse them, and we are all responsible for our moral choices. I am also aware it’s easy to judge when your career and income aren’t riding on the necessity of not looking too closely at what your boss is doing. Bear in mind that the film industry is the industry that perfected blacklisting — one day you’re fine and the next no one’s returning your calls. At the height of his powers there’s no doubt Harvey Weinstein could make working in the industry very difficult, and the further down the food chain you were, the more difficult he could make it.

I am fortunate that when I was working for others, I never had a boss whose moral baseline (as far as I knew) substantially conflicted with mine. I was never put in a position of having to cover for, or look away from, a bosses’ actions. I would like to think that if I had been, I would have done the correct thing, even in the face of losing my job. I’d like to think that, but it’s easy to think about what you would do when you’ve never been confronted by that actual decision point.

Again, I’m not here to excuse the moral choices Weinstein’s employees made — or didn’t make — and they’ll have the burden of their choices for the rest of their professional lives. I do know that the burden of their choices was placed on them because Weinstein chose to sexually assault and coerce women. His actions had consequences beyond him.

6. As for the issue of very famous people apparently not knowing what Weinstein was up to, I’m going to tell you a story. In my line of work there was an editor named Jim Frenkel, who worked for Tor, my publisher, and who as it turned out was a harassing piece of shit. It also turned out that he was very good at hiding that fact from his bosses and fellow editors and from authors, like me, who did not fit the profile of the sort of person he liked to harass. I was male, I was already published and successful, and I suspect Frenkel knew I would talk if I found out anything. I found out because Frenkel finally harassed a person who was more than happy to talk out loud about it, and who had people who would amplify her voice. Lots of people lateral to or above his status were shocked. Lots of women below his status asked how the hell the rest of us did not know.

We didn’t know because we didn’t see it personally; we didn’t know because the “whisper network” didn’t reach us. And why didn’t it reach us? Maybe because the women were scared about what Frenkel could do to their careers. Maybe because they assumed some of us already knew and were doing nothing about it. Maybe because some of us were men and the women didn’t want to have to deal with the emotional burden of trying to make us believe harassment was a real thing. “Whisper networks” can be useful, but as my friend Naomi Kritzer noted on Twitter, they’re full of holes. And more than that: They propagate downward and attenuate upward. After a certain height, you don’t hear many whispers.

No one knows a food chain better than a predator. Harvey Weinstein was not going to prey near or above his station; doing so served none of his purposes and represented risk. He wasn’t going to prey on (say) Meryl Streep or Hillary Clinton, and the chances that someone he would prey on would be able to tell either of those two women — or other women of a similar stature, or men on the same level — was pretty slim, and what reaches someone at that level is often spotty and inconclusive, for all the reasons noted above.

(Please note I’m not originating these observations; check out this Twitter thread yesterday from a woman screenwriter which makes basically the same point. It’s not the only thread like it out there.)

This doesn’t mean no people above certain level didn’t know. But it does mean predators are good at hiding their tracks, or at least making their path confusing. It also means that predators know how to leverage their power — and in the case of Harvey Weinstein, he was very powerful indeed.

And for the women of power who did know and who kept quiet, or at least quietish: Surprise! This is where the systematic sexism and harassment in the film/TV industry raises its head. You knew it would show up sometime!

7. Anyone who voted for an admitted sexual predator for president who is now blaming women for not knowing or not confronting Harvey Weinstein: Sit the fuck down. You don’t even have the veil of plausible deniability to cover the fact that you helped make Mr. “Grab ‘Em By the Pussy” the President of the United States. You knew and you didn’t care. To go after Clinton because she knew Weinstein after you cast your vote for Trump, well, shit. Got a Bible passage for you, son.

And, not that I’ve seen it, but in case it’s out there (and it probably is, somewhere): Anyone defending Weinstein on the basis of his ostensible politics or because of the great art he’s helped produce, you can sit the fuck down, too. The correct politics and the ability to spot good films and filmmakers isn’t a pass for being sexually coercive and a rapist. I’m happy to cede this piece of shit human has very fine taste in cinema. He’s still a piece of shit human.

8. I’m all for condemning both Trump and Weinstein, and any other man who uses his power to sexually coerce other people. Weinstein is a liberal and Trump is, well, whatever the hell he is (white supremacist authoritarian populist masquerading as a conservative), but both are men who have decided that they get to force themselves on women, and women should be happy or at least quiet about it. There’s no political angle to it; or more accurately, certain men of any political stripe seem happy to be predatory pieces of shit. Nor should there be any political separation to the solution to this problem: Kick all that shit to the curb.

9. And of course some of the backlash from this is that some men in corporate settings are now avoiding women, which makes me want to smack my head and wonder what the fuck is wrong with my sex. The solution is not to cut women out of your professional life, you assholes. The solution is to fix your goddamned corporate culture and root out the sexual harassers and predators so neither you nor any woman have to worry that a closed-door meeting means a quick two-step to the HR department. Redlining women from professional advancement because you don’t know how else to deal with the issues of harassment and predation means you are the problem, not them.

10. Harvey Weinstein is a piece of shit, but he’s not the only piece of shit out there. The film/TV industry has a sexism and harassment problem, but it’s not the only industry with a sexism and harassment problem. Today is Weinstein’s moment in the barrel, and he should be shot to the moon for it. But there’s a whole line of dudes waiting after him, starting from the president and working on down.

All of which you would know already, my dudes, if you listened to women and believed them. I’ve been working on that one myself a lot recently. I’m not perfect, but I like to think I’m getting better at it. We’ll see. Maybe you should make an effort at it too, if you’ve not done so already.

125 Comments on “Harvey Weinstein and Other Abusers”

  1. Oh, you better believe the Mallet is out for this one. Stay on topic (sexual harassment and Weinstein) and be polite to each other. Thank you in advance.

  2. Nice post, John. And I’m not *just* saying that because you’ve said everything I would say if I had the same way with words, experience, and platform, although that’s certainly true.

    But you took the time, and made the effort. And you kept to the point, with hopefully enough reiteration of the main issues (a. WEINSTEIN OWNS WHAT A SHIT HE IS; and b.A lot of America’s cultures and workplaces and people facilitate other people being this kind of shit) to actually sink in.

    But in re: your Point 9, I’d like to offer THIS gem, which hits the nail on the head for the poor bewildered dudes who just can’t figure out what they’re supposed to DO to get it right with all the terrible oppressive change demanded of them:



  3. You nailed it, but for one issue. Those in the press that knew about it and buried it. I consider them, at the very least, complicit. It was their damn job to report about what this piece of shit was doing, and they didn’t. Any attempt at an excuse is trumped* by the fact that it was literally their job to report on it.

    *And it’s a shame that I spent a measurable period of time trying to avoid using this word.

  4. think if one reported the crime or rape it would’ve put the alert out for him? he’d be black balled or was he to powerful in hollywood? think 5 years in prison would reduce his influence in the area?

  5. Thanks for this, especially for points 7-9.
    fWIW, I too grew up in the 60s and 70s and have no difficulty at all in refraining from sexual harassment.

  6. 1. I LOVED “The Rock Test” to which you linked. That is just the most awesome response ever to folks like those in point 9. above.

    2. When I was in grad school, I remember a (male) professor and (male) fellow grad student telling me that of COURSE I should report sexual harassment if I experienced it. (This was a hypothetical; we were discussing another professor’s alleged misdeeds that had nothing to do with sexual harassment.) I looked at them as if they were crazy–I’d NEVER get a job in academia if I did that, I pointed out, no matter how good my work was and no matter how truthful my claim. I had an alternative strategy in mind, involving permanent markers and bathroom walls all over campus, but to report harassment in that situation–i.e., one with a similar power imbalance–struck me as a career-ending move. I still don’t know what I really would have done if it had happened to me, and I’m nearly 25 years older with many fewer fks left to give.

    I think one of the things that gets lost sometimes is that in communities like academia or film, someone really can destroy your career–not just force you to leave a job, but basically eliminate the chances of you doing work that you love.

  7. Background: I’m a female IT professional in a large tech company that seems to have their head on straight and who is trying (with stats and metrics no less) to improve the diversity of their workforce. The chain of command from me to the CEO is a line of white guys. I’ve had 1-1 interactions with at least three of that chain in both office and casual scenarios, and at no point have I ever worried about it. It’s the most delightful place I’ve ever worked, and it works because everyone from the CEO down is clear that respect for other people is a core corporate value. (It’s not perfect. I’m sure there are pockets of awful. But the messaging is clear; that crap will not stand.) I have, however, worked in places where this is not the case.

    But I want to add a point to #9. In this day and age, sexual harassment isn’t limited to male in position of power hitting on subordinate woman looking for a mentor. If people are going to worry about not taking a woman to coffee because of the optics, they should worry about all the other scenarios as well.

    There is one closable door in my office building, and it’s intended for people who need to express breastmilk. Every other office is completely clear glass or frosted glass with clear cut-outs. When I took my male direct report out to lunch, I offered to either drive him or to meet him at the restaurant because that’s what my boss has offered to me. My grandboss is a hugger, but he hugs EVERYONE — male and female — and he checks in for permission before opening up his arms. I’ve never seen him tease anyone for turning him down. So it can be done. But it requires not being a piece of shit who wants to harass people and get away with it.

  8. I am reminded of some soft statements that were made by Elijah Wood, sometime last year, about child predators in Hollywood, and how those statements were very quickly hushed up, after he was made to apologize for having said them.

    He never named anyone. In fact, his comments were pretty vague but I can’t help but feel that he was told to shut up about it by some powerful people who told him his career would be affected if he kept on talking about it.

  9. The Veep is, unfortunately, the second kind. “Alone with a WOMAN?” It is rampant. I’m just glad the company stepped up and acted. (Granted only AFTER the public found out).

  10. I really hope Vance, the DA in Manhattan, loses his job sooner rather than later, since it appears he refused to indict Weinstein over a truly paltry political donation.

  11. #6 elucidates very well what I’ve been thinking about “they should have spoken up,” thanks.

  12. Amen to that brother!
    It speaks once more to oppression by those with power and the neanderthals who don’t get it or don’t want to get it.
    Will we witness rich rapists gathering in public to protest their loss of privilege like White Supremacists?
    Probably not but then … The leadership from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. inspired Nazi slimeballs to crawl from under their rocks. Who knows if there’s any line that can’t be crossed? He’s already had a head start as a role model.

  13. Looks like someone beat me to the “John Cena Hack” post. Not a bad idea, actually–if you wouldn’t (couldn’t) look John Cena in the eye and tell him how pretty/sexy/hot/ etc he is, *before* you start addressing his professional accomplishments, juuuuuuuuust maaaaaybe you shouldn’t say it to your female professional colleagues, either.

  14. Thank you for this post John. I’ve forwarded it to several people I know who still seem confused about how it was possible for other people to not know, for these women to not “report”, and all the usual bullshit. Maybe hearing it from another straight, white, male will help.

  15. @ikeke35:

    He never named anyone. In fact, his comments were pretty vague but I can’t help but feel that he was told to shut up about it by some powerful people who told him his career would be affected if he kept on talking about it.

    *cough*Bryan Singer*cough*

  16. I would also say that it is absolutely beaten into women’s heads that reporting this kind of behavior or making a fuss about it is pointless. I’ve had men harass me in public since I was 18 and it wasn’t until I was 24 that someone said “Did you report it?”. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I could go to a store manager and say that a strange man was soliciting women for sex. Prior to that, I had just been told “that’s what it’s like being a woman. It’s the price we pay for going outside.” I was told that by other women my age, my mother, etc all women who identified as feminists. Rape culture normalizes this behavior which just makes it harder to speak out about it.

  17. I’m glad you mentioned the issue of people in the industry knowing or not knowing about it, and then turning it to your own field. Because I was in the SF field for a long time, and unlike you I -did- know about Jim Frenkel: sort of. I’d heard these vague rumors that he inappropriately hit on women, and that women in the know tried to avoid being alone with or too close to him. But not being a woman myself I had no direct experience, and none that I knew ever made a specific accusation in my hearing – until that famous occasion that one did. It puts me in a position similar to what Glenn Close reports with Weinstein: he never misbehaved with her, but she heard rumors. As a non-witness I couldn’t do much with rumors, and there’s other men in SF of whom the same was true but who were no more than casually obnoxious about it, not as corrosive or persistent as Frenkel turned out to be. So I couldn’t know. But when it did become a public accusation I wasn’t a bit surprised.

  18. And, not that I’ve seen it, but in case it’s out there (and it probably is, somewhere): Anyone defending Weinstein on the basis of his ostensible politics or because of the great art he’s helped produce, you can sit the fuck down, too.

    I’ve not seen it, but I have seen conservative-types writing thinkpieces on the pretense that it’s out there. Not pointing to any in particular, but acting like the left is lining up to defend him. And, given that my own bubble is pretty porous with people from the extreme left to right-of-center, if there was a Spirited Liberal Defense of Weinstein because He’s One Of Ours, I probably would have seen it.

    And, hell, the left is notorious for throwing ours under the bus when someone is proven to be problematic. Just look at Anthony Weiner for a prime example.

  19. I think there is a positive generational shift when it comes to this kind of stuff. I have three sisters, three daughters, and a mother. My sisters and mom would be the “whisper network” folks unlikely to report for fear of rocking the boat. My daughters would happily sink the boat, drown the creepy predators, and then go have cocktails with their friends. There is 0 tolerance for that kind of crap in their world.

    And that’s good progress, I think.

  20. Marshall: I’d rightly get the Mallet if I tried to prove the point, but right-wingers often indulge in this hypocrisy of excusing misbehavior by one of their own, so they assume that liberals do it too – which happens occasionally, but as you note we’re more likely to throw them under the bus.

  21. NOYB: No. He was just fired.

    think if one reported the crime or rape it would’ve put the alert out for him? he’d be black balled or was he to powerful in hollywood? think 5 years in prison would reduce his influence in the area?

    1. People reported. It was hushed up, or their silence was bought or threatened. Or, as is more likely and is happening in various places: “She’s lying” “He doesn’t NEED to do that to get laid” “He MADE her and now she’s lashing out” a.k.a. “always believe the [powerful] man, never believe the woman.”

    2. He’s being blackballed NOW, but this was allowed to continue even after people knew about it. Because, yes. He was “too powerful” to fail. (insert smiley erupting like a volcano here)

    3. I think he probably needs a lot more than 5 years in prison, but since there is a statute of limitations on rape, if this goes to trial and if he is convicted — and we live in a world that even with the best proof ever neither of those things are guaranteed, there’s a minimum he can be put away for.

  22. Well said John. This guy was able to get away with this for decades. We need to have zero tolerance for this kind of predatory behavior in ANY profession. I hope they will be able to bring charges against him.

  23. I’d like to take issue with “I found out because Frenkel finally harassed the wrong person,”, specifically, the word “wrong”. It says that everyone else that Frenkel harassed was the right person for him to be preying upon and I’m not sure that’s what you want to be saying.

  24. #9: The Rock test is cute but unfortunately it’s presented following the patriarchal sexist line that the men would be harassing the women because they are sexy, and that replacing them with the Rock, who supposedly the men don’t find sexy, will do the trick, especially because the Rock would be physically violent (has power, use of force,) and harm/dominate the man harassing — he’s a man, powerful, superior and dominating to them and thus women have to be thought of as men to not be harassed. This was the same logic that in the 1980’s told women to wear boxy suits that made them look sort of like men, to be taken “seriously” in the corporate world.

    And it’s the same sexist smokescreen being used by corporate men who claim they are now afraid of being alone with women colleagues for fear of harassment accusations. That way, they can declare women liabilities — it’s a handy excuse to keep/push out women from lucrative job fields, keep them from promotion and marginalize their contributions — dominate them. Which is what boys are taught to do from when they are kids — don’t show emotional weakness, dominate others (particularly women) or you’re a loser who loses other men’s respect, everything is hierarchical and you have to be on top or you are nothing, etc.

    Men like Weinstein don’t harass or rape women because they sexually desire them. The woman’s looks are irrelevant (as are their clothes, manner, sex life, etc.) Weinstein had access to all the consensual and paid sex he wanted (and that’s the argument the famous wealthy ones often make — I don’t need to harass, they come to me, etc.) What men want when they sexually harass (often in situations where there is no possible chance of sex or a phone number, such as groping,) is to DOMINATE the women. They get off on the power rush — to humiliate, frighten, control, trap the woman, to do it knowing there is nothing she can do against it that won’t hurt her more, that no one will likely believe her — something harassers often say to their victims. Rape and coerced sex acts are the ultimate way to dominate someone, but simple harassment in the workplace also suffices. Weinstein harassed women because it made him feel more powerful about himself; it was a game where he dominated and where he could prove how weak, pliant and powerless he felt women were.

    And it’s not just sexual harassment — all of the harassment men do towards women in the workplace, from talking over women in meetings to sabotaging their work to denying them promotions because they are too “abrasive,” is about dominating women and in particular by showing their gender to be inferior to the man’s power. Women are presented as “weakening” men by their mere presence which is inferior, emotional and low status, not simply on claims of sexual distraction but because then their industry isn’t as cool, as offering them rewards admired by other men, because then they’d have to share money and power with women — which makes them losers in the hierarchy. They pushed women out of tech in the 1990’s over this, and they’ve blocked them as much as they can in Hollywood over it.

    #9 places the blame firmly on women — they weaken the corporate culture by being a danger to male executives. It’s another excuse to block women out, just like the “they might have babies” excuse. And it indicates that women lie/are not trustworthy like superior men — if they meet in private with their woman employee, why she might make up harassment charges or she might be an inferior, emotionally touchy woman who misinterprets the boss’ totally non-sexual compliments, etc. It lets them paint women standing up more to sexual and workplace harassment — and companies improving their record with the same — as a dangerous, inferior trend that will steal their power, rather than a problem that is stagnating their companies.

    Men don’t have to imagine their women colleagues or underlings as the Rock. They just have to recognize them as fellow human beings with brains. And they have to start viewing the workplaces as a collaborative endeavor rather than a fight pit with women as fodder bodies or opponents. And that’s going to take a long time to change, because our whole society is dedicated to teaching boys that they must be in a fight pit and dominate in it in at least some area, or they are nothing. And an easy way to score points in that game is to shame, harm, control and humiliate women. And so we end up with monsters like Weinstein and Cosby — smart, creative, entertaining, wealthy, and so scared that they must beat up, harm and control women to feel stronger. They aren’t predators for sex — they are predators for power, which we tell men is a good thing that makes them men.

  25. I would like to point out that a lot of people don’t seem to understand that this kind of guy has a really common profile. There were many, many articles about his awful temper and how hard he could be to work with. That kind of thing gets dismissed as alpha-male, genius=asshole shit, which can be written about without the guy in question totally losing face, and in fact can even be couched as a sort of flattery. But in fact it’s very good evidence that the guy is likely to be an abuser, full stop. See http://www.shakesville.com/2017/10/men-who-are-bullies-hurt-women.html

  26. Righteous piece, and I have an addition about complicity:

    Somebody wrote the legal docs for the cases that were settled and somebody wrote the checks to pay for those settlements.

    Maybe Weinstein’s personal lawyers wrote the docs and he signed personal checks. But if the legal apparatus of Miramax or the Weinstein Co. was involved, if the boards of those organizations knew about the settlements, if corporate checks paid the settlements, those organizations were complicit with his behavior and chose not to fire him.

  27. Kat Goodwin: You’re absolutely right, but decades of these more sophisticated arguments only make an impression on some. Those who are still left at Weinstein’s truly primitive level by this time need a simplified version to get it into their thick heads. This could help. At any rate, that’s the idea.

  28. Seem to be a lot of abusers in Hollywood – and not all old men (see: Joss Whedon for a younger example of the same type of shit human being). Maybe it’s more extreme as the rewards for a successful actress (or actor, I’m sure men are harassed too) are so large, and the potential career length can be so fleeting, so the pressure to acquiesce may be greater. Though being able to eat/feed your kids/have a roof over your head is pretty compelling for other people in the workplace, too.

  29. Great post, Mr. Scalzi.
    In bouncing around the web, I’ve been amazed at the number of people who want to point fingers at those they consider insufficiently outraged or damning or even just putting out a statement. Conservatives on Twitter (and some liberals, too) calling Meryl Streep a liar; demanding why Hilary hasn’t said anything; insisting that anyone not speaking is complicit .
    In short, moving the focus of outrage from Weinstein to whatever their pet idea/meme/peeve is.
    The whole 60s/70s coming of age thing set me off, too. I came of age then but everything I heard and learned was that sexuality was everyone’s right and everyone had the right to control their own. And that being a creep would get around. Granted, it was in the gay world but the point was that ideal was for everyone.
    I’ll never get that whole power/control thing. If you need that to get your motor going then you’re just pathetic.

  30. I grew up in the 60s/70s. While a lot of people were casual about sleeping around, I did not experience an atmosphere of most guys thinking it would be fine to rape or coerce me or my friends, and I was at a college that did not have many female students. This is not only a lame excuse, but also slanders a lot of wonderful guys who grew up then.

  31. You are absolutely correct that HW preyed on the people that were on the bottom of the food chain so to speak. This is obviously calculated and assumes young women trying to make it in the business are not going to blow the whistle on him. So I understand a young Paltrow and a young Jolie et al just moving on with their careers. BUT many of these women grew into powerful players in Hollywood in their own right. A young Brad Pitt spoke to HW about the incident on Paltrow. Didn’t people like Jolie, Paltrow, Pitt et al GROW into individuals that had POWER to out HW? Jessica Chastain said it was the worst kept secret in Hollywood. I understand the power dynamic for young starlets, some of these women didn’t remain starlets- they became powerbrokers in Hollywood and still said nothing…

  32. Speaking from personal, tragic experience, these sorts of people can hide in plain sight. In some cases, they seem perfectly respectable (my abuser was one of those), while others, they might effectively deflect with other things (being really good at one thing, even if they’re otherwise problematic in general behavior, like Weinstein). And for the most part, they will target those who don’t have any good way of fighting back; my abuser targeted me in part because I’m trans (closeted at the time), out of his state, and he was a sheriff’s deputy as well so odds were I’d have had to deal with the Blue Wall on top of all that. Most of the time, by the time their victims get enough pull that they can bring it back around, they’ve either moved on, or decided the pain of reopening the old wounds isn’t really worth it.

    By the time these predators get caught out enough that they can be smacked down hard? They’ve left a long trail of damaged and broken people in their wake.

    And related? Before my abuse experience, I’d always been uncharitable to any celebrity (sports or otherwise) who had what they said was a one-night stand basically bite them with rape allegations, mostly with the idea that “maybe you shouldn’t sleep with randoms, buddy”, but that’s morphed a bit since I became a survivor such that I’m much less inclined to give them even that much credit. And it’s a hell of a lot harder for me to “separate art and artist” when this sort of thing comes to light. I love the LEGO games, and can’t bring myself to play Pirates of the Caribbean. And I’m unlikely to give Buffy another go at trying to watch the series.

  33. There’s an old crack that professional athletes are rich. The people that sign their paycheques are wealthy.

    Even the big name male and female actors being talked about are ‘rich’ to HW’s ‘wealthy’. Are some of them big enough to have a career even if they kicked the hornets nest? Yes, but even for the big names it would be a substantial reduction in pay and influence for no guarantee of making a difference. And for anyone but the biggest it would have been (and was) career suicide. Read the list of one-time-household-names that are being mentioned in the HW articles. Haven’t heard or thought of them in years? That’s what happens.

  34. Speaking from experience in Fortune 500 corporate world, the dynamic is the same. Male predator, woman takes blame if she’s foolish enough to come forward.
    As it happened, I had a reputation as one who did not tolerate that crap (one of few women in male dominated org) and got lots of women coming to me to help blow whistles on dudes to HR.
    But unless they were willing to put their name on it, anonymous complaints weren’t going to do it.
    The right wingers blaming Hillary and every other woman they hate for this make me sick, after the Trump “Grab em by the ….” tape, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and all the rest.
    Jackasses like them know no political boundaries. They are predators, pure and simple, and their politics don’t matter.

  35. lkeke35 and David Crisp, Corey Feldman has an interview in the Hollywood Reporter (2016) about his experience as a child actor. While he names no names *cough*, it is not too difficult to make some reasonable guesses.

  36. @lilisonna Your IT company sounds phenomenal and I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to work with such people with rooted core values. Excellent article JS, and The Rock piece is also a fantastic way to honor the approach to enlightenment, because clearly, enough people aren’t understanding rape is a deviant behavior that should be tolerated at any level. Additionally, silence is a killer of many things, including momentum. Hollywoodland: living the nightmare isn’t a tagline that makes people wanna drive to the west coast and be that star, to be sure. There was a documentary I saw in 2011 that made me truly ill about the industry: The Hollywood Complex. The first 10 min you can just see the predator component that’s thriving out there not even missing a beat on dreamers and innocent, unassuming newbies. What can be done…so widespread that collusion has nurtured and given the ok to do these things as a civilized society, wrapped in a bubble, protected by fear itself. It’s a level of psychological intervention across the board is needed at it’s most basic level because this has honestly been going on since the LAND fell off the Hollywood sign. Will they clean up their own house and backyard…weeds an all? I think it’s proven they can’t and won’t left to their own devices, but it needs to be done. I’m certainly going to do my part in not supporting, esp with my $$. Who did Harvey irritate enough that the media finally allowed a full blown attack on him? We’ve seen this in mini stages before with others and then, crickets. As long as actors sing the praises of the likes of Allen and Polanski with accepting the artist at any cost, nothing will change. I lost respect for Streep and Swinton many moons ago with their idolotry for rapists, even admitted ones. And no, I don’t believe the consumated actor Streep had ‘no clue’ being tenured in the industry as long as she has been. Fool me twice…shame on me. This year others are still funding DeSalvo to make films, whaa?? Singer headlines then crickets.. Maybe the LA police need an overhaul since they don’t seem any good at gathering the criminal element. However, I do honestly cheer and support all for speaking what they’ve endured at whenever time they have. I also commend the likes of Brie Larson and Emma Thompson who were and are avid in their protest of right v wrong. I wrote to CF this as well today: @Corey_Feldman We are with you & have been waiting to hear your story since it began #WriteTheBook #FreeOfDuress #BeThatGuy #PleaseandThankU

  37. @MrAuntJemima:

    One thing is pretty clear here: an innocent man’s attorney doesn’t simply choose to stop representing him for entirely unrelated reasons.

    Yes, they can and frequently do. Your client, innocent or guilty, may just be such a pain in the ass that you don’t decide you need the stress of dealing with him; your client may be an idiot who keeps sabotaging his own case by ignoring legal advice (e.g. Don’t talk to cops/press/your ex/etc), He may be a deadbeat skinflint who doesn’t pay his lawyer. You, the lawyer, may have just had a heart attack and feel unable to represent clients while in the ICU. Plenty of reasons to drop a client.

  38. Why didn’t Palrow and Jolie and Pitt speak out? Object lesson–Cliff Robertson went public about Columbia Pictures head David Begelman forging Robertson’s signature to a check. Robertson was blacklisted for 5 years and never was a big star again. And this was with ironclad proof and Begelman’s conviction. Unless a woman has enough money to bankroll her own pictures, blacklisting can destroy her career. Plus if she feels successful and powerful enough to come forward, it will be “Why didn’t you say something back then?”

  39. I know from personal, horrific experience as an abuse survivor that they can (and do) hide in plain sight, either by seeming like perfectly upstanding people in public, and/or having enough pull that they can effectively sink anyone who tried to out them. By the time the weight becomes enough they can be taken down, they’ve left a trail of damaged and broken people in their wake.

    I was already inclined before I became an abuse survivor to look at accusations of rape against celebrities, particularly involving “one night stands”, and basically thinking, “well, maybe you need to take better care with who you have your liaisons with then.” Afterwards, I only give even that amount of benefit of the doubt for a single incident. And once I’ve heard it, I become incredibly unlikely to enjoy their work if they’re an artist; I’m one of those who really can’t separate the art from the artist very well.

    I’ve heard some actors fairly recently complaining they’re not getting called in for roles anymore… and I do suspect it’s because they have been outspoken about the ugly incidents that shouldn’t even be being tolerated, much less swept under the rug the way they have been.

  40. I wonder if this kind of behavior (and worse) is under-reported because it is just completely and utterly normalized and accepted in Hollywood. The “casting couch” is a thing because the casting couch is a very real thing. Now we hear Terry Crews speaking out about casually being groped in front of his wife by a male movie executive, Feldman intimating that pedophilia is a de rigueur facet of being a child actor, this business of HW’s behavior being so widely known… on and on. Do people not speak up because it is the equivalent of announcing that water is wet? One hates to paint with such a wide brush but I really wonder if this is the teeny-tiny tip of the iceberg.

  41. I think that the late Roger Ailes is probably a better person to compare with Harvey Weinstein than Trump, because Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein both harrassed subordinates and had the power to destroy the careers of their victims. It’s interesting to me that many of the people who did not speak out against Ailes after his his activities came to light, are now calling the Clintons and Obamas hypocrites for not speaking out against Weinstein. I also want to make it clear that comparing conservative sexual predator boss Ailes to liberal sexual predator boss Weinstein does not mean that I am attempting to defend Trump, especially since some of Trump’s reported behaviour at his beauty pageants remind me of some of Weinstein’s actions.

    VP Mike Pence won’t have meetings or eat alone with women other than his wife, and that’s been his policy for years, if not decades. I think it’s a form of gender discrimination.

  42. @Derrryl Murphy

    Whoa. I hadn’t seen that one. That’s more unsettling in some ways. Even though I’m a woman. Because it’s like, frig, if Terry Crews is not a person who compels the physical respect of these abusers, what chance does anyone else have?

  43. I read the long in-depth New Yorker article about this today, and then I happened to hear the journalist interviewed on the radio a few hours later. That interview and his article both make it clear how much of this whole situation was about FEAR.

    The women Weinstein accosted, molested, and assaulted talked about their PHYSICAL fear of him–including instances where he didn’t touch them (and certainly instances where he did so)–because of his size, his loudness, his aggression, his attitude, and his manipulation (such as inviting them to a business meeting with someone else present, then getting rid of his associate, and then suddenly disrobing and demanding contact–a pattern he employed over and over again to trap women in a threatening situation). Showing up for a business meeting, feeling reassured by the presence of a third person there… and then finding yourself alone with a large, powerfu, aggressive man who’s naked, has an erection, and is making demands and trying to prevent you from leaving is very frightening.

    The other aspect of the FEAR that’s central to this whole story is that they reasonably and realistically feared what would happen -after- Weinstein accosted or assaulted them. Many incidents in the reporting on thiis story in recent days, including incidents in the New Yorker article, expose Weinstein as an extremely vicious and vindictive man who used his power to damage women who rejected him or reported him or crossed him. The woman who -did- immediately go to the police, for example, was believed by NYPD SVU, who followed up and made a case… Which wasn’t prosecuted–in large part because Weinstein had his PR machine do so much public damage to the woman’s reputation. People didn’t just fear that they’d lose their jobs or film roles and never work for Weinstein again, they feared–reasonably–that their careers and reputations would be severely damaged.

    One reporter wrote a couple of days ago about how Weinstein physically attacked and assaulted her boyfriend in a public place after the man remonstrated with him for screaming profanity and threats at her. There were witnesses–and CAMERAS–present as Weinstein physically attacked and screamed at the other man, injuring a woman bystander in the process…. and this was completely hushed up. Not a word was ever printed or exposed. How many incidents like that were there, that Weinsten had the power to keep completely under the rug? How many people feared, with reason, that he could do almost anything to them–and get away with it?

  44. Yep, Terry Crewes is groped at a public event in front of his wife — not sexual, power. Some gay men in positions of power sexually harass women, straight men will sexually harass other men (see frat incidents,) and women in positions of power, notably in human resources, will back predators up as well, as Donna Karan did with Weinstein. It’s not about sex — the sexualization is just a way to make it a more powerful, violating act. This is why people don’t speak up, even if they develop a bigger career. If they speak up about it, they lose image in their industry and executives close ranks against them, subjecting them to great abuse. When there are incidents in companies, the executives close rank against the victims. Cops close rank and do cover-ups to protect cops who are violent and/or sexually abusive. Head clergy move sexually abusive clergy around and cover up their acts, etc.

    Because if they don’t do that, then the system changes and if the system changes, they lose or think they lose power and may have to deal with monetary and job consequences of a less hierarchical, dominating system. It’s much easier to get rid of the victims, even if they are high powered actors (because actors are easily replaced,) than to deal with the powerful person who is exercising more power.

    Take the singer Keisha and the producer Dr. Luke — it is openly known in the music industry how abusive he is. Kelly Clarkson refused to work with him after being forced to by her label. But he became a powerful producer and Sony was locked in a contract with him over Keisha and others. It would have cost them too much money to detach, so they persecuted Keisha in court instead and tried to completely block her career, even though that also cost them money, because they needed the music industry hierarchy to stay intact. Keisha was a threat, because she was a problem. Big star though she was, they had no problem with taking her down. Eventually, they at least let her not have to work with the guy, even though he still will profit from her music. This sort of thing happens to some of the biggest women singers, from Irene Cara to Brittney Spears, because the industry will put up with abusive execs in order to keep their own perks and status in the system in place.

    So it’s not a matter of the victims speaking up or even some power players speaking up. The (mostly white) men who control the business and the money in the system have to be pressured enough by society as a whole, the costs severe enough, to make them start to dismantle it. (That’s why it takes over ten accusations of a predator often to have the idea even partially believed.) And even then, there will be plenty of backroom cover-ups that continue the behavior. Our whole society backs them up to do this — the behavior isn’t just normalized in Hollywood but throughout every country in the world. The idea of being a tough winner, a power player, etc., is our whole image of what a successful man is. It’s how we got Trump.

    And those who deviate from the script are punished to reassert its dominance — because they created a problem with the way things are, with the image that keeps powerful people powerful. Kneeling football players create a problem because they buck the narrative that black people aren’t abused and that the justice system needs reform. It’s not just about the one guy being accused of abuse. When a victim speaks up, that victim is challenging the entire society. When someone speaks about civil rights abuses, they are pointing out a problem — and that’s a problem. It’s easier and safer to go after the victim, especially when you see the victim as “weak” for being abused. So that’s what is done. Lust has nothing to do with it.

  45. I hope there’s a great deal of introspection, less about the many people who weren’t merely unaware than about the few who actively ran interference for the man. It would be good to have a recounting of names, e.g., those who applied pressure to suppress news stories for about twenty years, the Roy Cohns to his McCarthy, including those who facilitated and covered up criminal behaviour because they were on payroll for The Weinstein Company and ordered to do so: Knowingly working for criminals and participating in their crimes is a choice. I’ve quit jobs after determining I was working for crooks, and felt poorer yet cleaner.

    Getting the names is good. Let the sunlight in.

  46. Just listened to the police recording that’s on the New Yorker website now. It’s about 6 minutes long. The woman who had reported Weinstein to the police was wearing a wire, which the cops had put on her to record Weinstein’s next encounter with her.

    On the tape, Weinstein admits to groping her at their previous meeting, saying (when she asks why he did it), “I’m used to that.” Most of the tape, though, consists of Weinstein trying to convince the woman to enter his hotel bathroom to watch him shower.

    It’s a weirdly creepy conversation. You can hear that he’s trying to bully and dominate her–demanding she do as he wants, warning her not to embarrass him or “make a scene,” and implying threatening consequences if she rejects him. At the same time… he’s persistently begging this woman (who keeps saying “no”) to sit on a toilet and watch him shower, promising he won’t touch her (lying? probably), promising it’ll only last 5 minutes, promising she’ll never have to see him again.

    His tone of voice is openly intimidating (and it’s easy to imagine that his body language was, too), but his begging is pathetic, and the scene he’s urging her to engage in for his gratification is also pathetic. Completing the creepiness of the scene, he mentions his children when trying to persuade her to watch him shower.

    On top of everything else about the whole ugly story that’s so appalling… while I listened to that tape, I kept thinking, “THIS is what he wants to do with his time, his power? Beg and beg and BEG an =openly disgusted= woman he barely knows to sit on a toilet and watch him shower? And the enticement he offers is that she’ll never have to see him again if she does this?”

  47. I think it’s worth considering the nature of employment as an actor in Hollywood, and how precarious that employment is.

    Basically, every single actor, from the most “powerful” to the lowliest face in a commercial, is a temporary worker. They’re hired for the length of the project (usually about 3 – 6 weeks shooting time), they’re employed on grounds which are incredibly subjective to say the very least (think about how things like casting white people in roles written as characters of colour; casting cis men instead of trans women; casting able-bodied actors in disabled roles and so on happen: it’s because a casting director thinks this person who doesn’t even fit the character description is “better for the role”), they’re working on individually negotiated contracts, and they’re basically in a position where the wage they earn from their work has to also pay at least two other people (themselves, their agent, possibly a manager etc). The work they’re doing is incredibly insecure – whether they get hired again is dependent on whether the public “likes them”, whether they’re able to get along well enough with the rest of the cast and crew to be worth hiring again, whether they (and their agent and/or manager) can manage to sell their services to the right people for the right sort of work, and whether they’re willing to do the right things for the executives who have the work to offer. Oh, and all of it depends on you having the right sorts of connections, as well, because nepotism is so normalised in this industry nobody even comments on it.

    If you’re male, you have to try and build your profile while you’re in your twenties through your fifties, and hope you age “distinguished”. If you’re female, you’ve about twenty years less of workable career time (you’ll notice “powerful” female actors in their forties and fifties like Gwynneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are looking to other work to make most of their money these days, because there just aren’t the roles for women between the ages of about 30 and 65 – either you’re a pretty young thing, or you’re a grande dame, and there’s nothing in between) and you have to build your reputation fast, and nail things down early.

    So let’s turn the question of “why didn’t they report it?” around, and instead ask: Why would anyone in such a precarious industry want to risk any of what they have by getting the label of being a “troublemaker”?

    This is why the predators love Hollywood.

  48. “some of the backlash from this is that some men in corporate settings are now avoiding women, which makes me want to smack my head and wonder what the fuck is wrong with my sex.”

    Or maybe the present oversensitivity of these issues is part of the problem, too ?

    As a foreigner who visit the US maybe once every two years, and is always baffled by the frenetic rate of change of basic sociability rules, language of behavioral taboos, and so on, I probably have quite a different perspective on this point than you, who stand near the center of a US information network actively involved in these problematics. While, in the 1980s, I was fully comfortable being myself in the U.S.A., relying of the fact that common decency rules where about the same everywhere in the western world and that my French education made it perfectly safe for me there, I had to start watching my (academic !) language in the 90s (to be honest, the early experiences that brought me there were in Canada rather than in the U.S.A.). Today, I’ll take basically the same precautions with American women than the “men in corporate settings” described in the article you quoted, if only to avoid breaking ambiguous new rules I’m not even aware of, and as often as not don’t really understand when exposed to them.

    And since this problem seems a/ quite recent, b/ quite localized to North-America, and c/ largely assymetric, with many US visitors abroad seeming to consider the present customs of their tribe as universal, I’m not sure that, if something is wrong, it has to be with our sex.

  49. With regard to liberal and/or feminist abusers, harassers, rapists:
    * Some men are just plain hypocrites.
    * Some men are great self-deceivers as to what they’re doing, e.g. believing properly consensual sex were possible with people with incomes and careers destroyable at their command.
    * Some men fall prey to the Positional Good Guy Fallacy that decouples your status as a Good Guy from how you actually act, as in ‘We’re the Good Guys even if we torture. ‘.
    * Some men may feel that their very real efforts to make life better for many people gives them licence to act horribly in private—appropriately enough, the character Faith Lehane in an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” opines that given that she saves the world on a regular basis, she ought to be able to do as she will with impunity. (This ought to be distinguished from the much saner cost/benefit defence of a seemingly necessary ill, e.g. that Al Gore’s jetting around preaching against carbon emissions net-reduces them.)

    I won’t say these men aren’t liberals or feminists, as a True Scotsman told me to avoid that kind of statement, but I will say that they’re doing it really badly.

  50. Largely agree with the analysis and, as always, loved your provocative and though-provoking style. One thing I’d like to comment on was your take that the NYT article would mainly highlight the problem with men not knowing how to behave and default to just cutting out the women from their professional lives. It seems to me that the picture is a little bit more complicated than that. I mean, in the article, it was mentioned that it wasn’t only men who were afraid of one-to-one meetings with women because they were afraid about how those would be perceived (most men in the article didn’t actually seem to be afraid that the women they were meeting would fabricate accusations against them, instead they were worried about how people around them would interpret the meetings) – also 50% of the women interviewed avoided one-to-one meetings to avoid rumors about their motives. So, reading that article, it seems more that men mostly *do* know how to behave at one-to-one meetings with women so that the women won’t perceive them as creeps; they just fear rumors; and many (both men and women) perceive as inappropriate *all* one-to-one meetings between men and women, especially when there’s a large power differential.

  51. 1) Sex is the weapon for these people, not the purpose. Power is the purpose.

    2) Lots of people claim that they couldn’t control themselves, that they didn’t realize what they were doing was wrong, yada, yada, yada,… yet they seem to go to an awful lot of trouble to avoid being seen doing what it is they got caught doing. Even if they had no moral compasses, they should have been able to read the maps and the signs – they knew that others (and the law) considered their behavior differently than they did, and hid it to avoid the consequences. The idea that Weinstein didn’t know what he was doing was wrong is preposterous.

    I guess that’s power, though – trying to justify behavior with a straight face that would get a kindergartener expelled (even without the age-inappropriateness) and expecting compliance from those around you.

  52. John
    As usual you have spoken truth to power, so I know you will make a lot of people angry. But I am personally Thrilled that women are finally speaking up as I never had the guts to do when I needed a paycheck. And when I finally did speak out I got harassed to resign.

  53. A man in a meeting some years ago said to the group, “Women don’t tend to believe men.” I answered, “I’m sure that’s not true.” He said, “See?” It made me step back and rethink my interactions and assumptions.

  54. @Kat Goodwin: The Rock piece isn’t just about Dwayne Johnson being physically imposing. He also has a likeable and easygoing public image, such that one doesn’t imagine him being rude or violent without a very good reason.

    Most harassing behaviour is in the category: “So obnoxious even the Rock would tell you to stop being such an idiot and/or punch you.” It helps make the point that these actions are bad, we all know they are bad, and there is no excuse for doing them.

    @Hap: I don’t think it’s either/or, it’s both/and. Weinstein presumably got a sexual thrill from abusing, which he wouldn’t have got from similar activities with a willing partner. To be clear, that doesn’t excuse his actions, it’s just another way of saying he’s an abusive piece of shit.

  55. @ Hap: “The idea that Weinstein didn’t know what he was doing was wrong is preposterous.”

    I agree. Only days after the NYT article, there is already on-record account after account after account after account from employees and victims about the deliberate and premeditated way that Weinstein repeatedly manipulated situations to fool his victims into being alone with him. Most specifically, his tactic of getting an employee to sit in on the first few minutes of these encounters, and then dismissing that person so he could be alone with the victim–usually in a hotel room. He did this over and over and over. Multiple employees and victims have described such events, and employees have specifically told media this was Weinstein’s common ploy, some regret participating, others declined to participate or sought ways to avoid being involved.

    That repetitious habit demonstrates predation. It is beyond the realm of credibility that he thought those situations were consensual or that this victims were alone with by choice.

    Additionally, so far every woman who has come forward says that whether or not there was initially someone else present at the encounter, he presented his invitation to them, in every single instance, as a business meeting. If you get someone into your office or hotel suite under the pretense that you’ll have a business meeting, when your intention is actually sexual, you clearly recognize there is not a consensual relationship. “Consensual” would be, of course, if he said to them, “Do you want to come to my hotel room for some slap and tickle?” and they said, “Yes.”

    Plus, you can hear in the NYPD SVU recording of him harassing a victim that he took no notice at all of a woman repeatedly saying “no.” A number of the women report saying “no” over and over. That’s clearly not consensual.

    He is presumably still an extremely wealthy man, and it seems likely that his lawyers will be happy to take his money for whatever sort of legal battles he’d like to pursue (such as his threat to sue the NYT). But it is impossible to see how his lawyers would convince anyone that he “thought those encounters were consensual” or “didn’t realize what he was doing”…. Unless, of course, they take the traditional position that the women were consenting to sex by consenting to a business meeting, or the women were consenting to sex by being young and pretty and wearing Donna Karan outfits, or the women were consenting to sex in their eyelash flutters even if they’re recorded repeatedly saying no, no, no.

  56. Re point 9 (flippancy warning)
    Pay your taxes to ensure the sewers don’t back up and the shit resurfaces.

    An excellent take, And well worth the time you spent on this. Many thanks.

  57. It only takes one asshole to ruin a party. Everyone is getting along swimingly, and then “Chaz” comes along, grabs some woman’s ass, a public confrontation ensues, and everyone is miserable.

    I was trying to figure out the population numbers after the charlottesville mess. In a nation of 350 million, whats the smallest number of racists willing to commit violence that it would take so that every black person has had a bad encounter with one of them in their lifetime? Add tv/internet and then whats the smallest number that it takes for every black person to be aware of their existence? There’s like maybe only 10,000 members in the kkk today. But its enough to ruin it for an entire nation.

    And it only takes a few Jeremy Joseph Christian’s for everyone to know there are deadly risks to standing up to hate.

    And because they are so few, people who are not tbeir targets may have zero direct experience of their existence. A white guy could be sitting next to a white supremecist on the subway and not know it. A guy might work with a male executive who is a serial predator and not know it because (a) the predator obviously wants to hide his behavior and (b) so many other executives are NOT serial rapists.

    I think so much of what people believe is first and foremost filtered through their personal experience that if it doesnt jive with their personal experience, it gets rejected. And since the “Chaz’s” of the world are few and generally hide their behavior, you get people who have no experience of racism or no experience of sexism, who then assume it doesnt exist and shit on the people who have experienced it.

    One in five women have been raped.
    One in twenty-five men have committed rape.

    That means every woman either was herself raped or probably knows a woman personally who was raped.

    Meanwhile most men arent aware of personally knowing a man who committed rape (because they hide and are rarer). And the only woman likely to let them know they were a victim is their wife or girlfriend, so many men likely arent aware of a a woman they personally know who was raped.

    And the result is two groups have entirely different personal experiences of the world.

    I think where it really falls apart is that racists really are rare, rapists really are rare, and so the people who dont have the personal experience of those assholes look at the numbers and say “they’re rare. They’re a tiny fraction of the population.” And proceed to downplay their effect, not realizing that it only takes a small number of assholes to ruin it for everyone.

    Im not sure what the best way to capture this idea would be. But it only takes a small percentage of rapists for every one to personally know a rape victim. It only takes a small percentage of racists for every black person to have personaly experienced racism sometime in their life.

    If you look at the perpetrators and focus on how small a percentage they are of the total population, you might miss the fact that small as they are, they’re enough to ruin it tor everyone.

  58. People who knew and said nothing are complicit. Personally, I don’t care if they had a *reason* not to say anything. Their reason being what? A job. Essentially a bribe to keep quiet, and that’s pretty disgusting when you give it real consideration.

    The idea of forgiving those who knew, of giving them a sort of pass because you might not have had the strength to do otherwise is a terrible philosophy. It’s basically hedging a bet against the future, saying that if you’re ever in the situation and you find yourself weak and easily bought into silence that you shouldn’t be punished or made to feel guilty. This is weakness, and it blatantly enables a culture that allows monsters like Harvey to exist. Excusing their actions under the guise of “understanding” or “compassion for their difficult decision” is no different than them excusing Harvey’s action.

    The media folks who buried this story are also at fault, and tremendously so.

  59. We had a patron in the library who seemed pretty normal to me, but creeped out some of my fellow coworkers (who were all female at the time). He finally got kicked out of the library for staring at one of the shelvers as she worked, the fact that she was a minor was just icing on the cake. This made me realize that is the big difference from being a 6 foot 200-pound man and a 5 foot 5 120-pound woman.

  60. I don’t mean to trivialize the conversation. I am disgusted and saddened, and I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said much more eloquently by JS and others. But there is one STUPID little detail about the reporting of this story that is driving me insane. Why, by all that is holy, is the POS human’s name pronounced WINE-STEEN? Why is the same diphthong pronounced two different ways within the same name?

    I feel much better for getting that off my chest. You may now return to your serious, thoughtful discussion.

  61. Kat: “The Rock test is cute but unfortunately it’s presented following the patriarchal sexist line that the men would be harassing the women because they are sexy, and that replacing them with the Rock, who supposedly the men don’t find sexy, will do the trick”

    What? No, thats not… oh geez…

    “especially because the Rock would be physically violent (has power, use of force,) and harm/dominate the man harassing”

    So, the two biggest drivers behind sexual harrassment are lust and power, and you just ruled out both of them here?

    We’re talking about *predators*, right? Wolves go after rabbits, not mountain lions. The Rock is a mountain lion.

    “Which is what boys are taught to do from when they are kids — don’t show emotional weakness, dominate others (particularly women) or you’re a loser who loses other men’s respect, everything is hierarchical and you have to be on top or you are nothing, etc.”

    If thats the disease, then triage might be The Rock test to stop these brainwashed boys from negotiating their way through sex as a series of power plays. Imagine she’s a lion, and power doesnt actually work for you here. If nothing else, it forces the mindset out of power and into finding some other way to approach human beings.

    But to stop the brainwashing, we’reprobably going to have to find ways to value boys/men in such a way that power loses its appeal. Courage? Contribution? Honor? Something like that? Any characteristic of men you’d like to amplify and reinforce?

  62. As to point 6, Whisper Networks are imperfect solutions, but sometimes they feel like our only option.

    I reported the man who was saying sexually inappropriate things to me. He was a deacon in his church. He was married with internationally adopted children. He had 20 years more experience in his field than I did. His education was slightly better than mine.

    I was believed at first. Then i wasn’t believed. I must have just misunderstood and that’s just “how he is.” Then I was blackballed and every professional choice and every mistake I made was put under a microscope and scrutinized. At one point, I was made to work with him again as “punishment” for making a mistake in the lab. Apparently, I couldn’t be trusted in a highly visible laboratory despite years of experience. (We’re scientists, you see. This isn’t confined to glamorous professions)

    I FINALLY, got away from him. And then I got further away from him and his network of enablers. I’m happier now, I got promoted, and the whispers are strong enough that I don’t think his career is going to advance further.

    But here’s the thing – after I got away, they kept assigning young women to work with him. I was in my late twenties, barely 30 when this happened. These women were 22, maybe. I took them aside individually and told them to be aware of him. I told them if anything happened and they were uncomfortable to come to me. I would stand with them. I would back them up. I took a lower level supervisor aside and told him to believe his direct reports if they said anything. But all of this had to be done in whispers, you know? Saying it clearly and to power didn’t work. It actively hurt me to report it and nothing was done to stop him.

    So, now I work in whispers. And even now, I’d prefer to be anonymous. I don’t need anyone coming after me for protecting myself and other women.

  63. I love the article, but can’t help but worry about the diagnosis in (9). I don’t see why the fear-reaction in that article relies on the existence of any actual predatory behavior at the particular company – it just requires the perception that predatory behavior could happen, and the belief that accusations of predatory behavior should be taken seriously. If this fear is genuine, that seems like an indication of a good culture (and perhaps a paranoid or bad person – more below).

    I’m seriously biased by the fact that I work in a university that seems to take sexual harassment pretty seriously, but which has also developed some pretty reasonable norms to deal with (9). We don’t have closed-door meetings with students, and if there is an urgent need for an off-campus meeting it will be in a well-lit and busy public place. This is applied pretty evenly across genders, and we try to be careful that it doesn’t disadvantage certain groups. It is also less strict with people who are higher-status (I’d let a senior researcher of either gender stay at my house without much worry). This has the twin advantages of reducing the opportunity for predatory behavior and also reducing the opportunity for false statements by students (as certainly happens at some small rate when there are many thousands of new students per year).

    Anyway I like Kat Goodwin’s responses and certainly believe that some of the purported fear is disingenuous – an act put on to continue to degrade the powerless. But fortunately it is possible to get around the biggest lies…

  64. @Eric Picholle
    I don’t know your background and can’t speak to your personal experience. But the fact that you immediately frame this as “oversensitivity” is a bit telling. Changing social norms are difficult to navigate. But the changing social norm we’re talking about here is that it is (very slowly) becoming unacceptable to sexually harass and attack women in the workplace. If you view this as “oversensitive” I think you need to look again at your sensitivities.

    I remember when Dominique Strauss-Kahn got arrested for a sexual attack that there were comments from the French media about how shocking it was that he would be publicly arrested for this. Their comments were generally, “he is powerful and famous. In France this would just be swept under the rug.” Let’s not pretend that Americans are uniquely sleazy or that new north american sensitivities are some bizarre overreaction.

  65. Jo: “People who knew and said nothing are complicit. Personally, I don’t care if they had a *reason* not to say anything. Their reason being what? A job. Essentially a bribe to keep quiet, and that’s pretty disgusting”

    What if the person knew and said nothing, and the reason they knew was because they were a victim? And the reason they said nothing was because they wanted to keep their job?

  66. At my very first out of college job (librarian), a long-time patron took to following me around and watching me work. Then he started hanging around literally within arm’s-reach of me. Then he started asking for my phone number. When I refused to give it to him, he took to hissing obscenities at me from the other side of the shelves, and leaving notes detailing all the things he wanted to do to me.

    I reported every last one of these incidents, from the first day he watched me shelve to my having *handfuls* of these scribbled notes directly addressed to me, over the course of a full year. And my supervisor just kept shaking her head. “He’s not *really* doing anything. You’re too sensitive. He’s never bothered *me*. He returns all his books and pays his fees, I think we can put up with a little eccentricity. You’re not encouraging him, are you?”

    That supervisor moved on, I got a new supervisor, and when I (nervously downplaying the situation) showed her one of the notes, she had that patron’s card blocked within the day and had him barred from the entire library system within a week. My former supervisor emailed to say that she felt I was exaggerating the situation and hurting this long-time patron, but really, if I was *that* uncomfortable, I should have made that clearer.

    No one tells, because this is what you get when you tell. Condescended to. Labeled a troublemaker. Made to feel bad. And eventually, it’s *your* fault for not speaking up sooner, or louder, or using some magic word that makes people listen.

    All this to say, thanks John.

  67. Saying politically correct things gives you freedom to be a monster.

    Exhibit A: Harvey Weinstein.

  68. 1) Harassment and rape happen lots of places where the sex is likely not the point. In one of Clark’s kills in Without Remorse, the police analyst notes that he took the money but that robbery was not the motive. That’s what I assume happens here as well.

    2) People likely factor the cost (to them) of speaking up and the likelihood of the crime being prosecuted or dealt with in deciding what to do. Considering the likelihood of a successful rape prosecution (and similar factors in harassment suits), it’s harder to fault other women for keeping silent. Whistleblower suits have similar problems, but probably have likelier payouts (the federal government has a way with words), and people believe whistleblowers sometimes. People sometimes are willing to sacrifice themselves to prevent harm to others, but are generally unwilling to sacrifice themselves for no gain.

  69. Iain R:

    Most harassing behaviour is in the category: “So obnoxious even the Rock would tell you to stop being such an idiot and/or punch you.”

    No, Iain, most harassing behavior is not in the super obnoxious clueless category. That’s a sexist fallacy that gets put out as part of blaming the victims and gaslighting victims who then doubt whether they had the experiences they had, because, you know, maybe it wasn’t a big deal they should speak out about. It’s very comforting to think that sexual harassment is only at the extremist end, but it’s not. It’s constant small things — sexual jokes, statements that are supposed to be “compliments” but are deliberately sexualizing and threatening women, implied dangers if women don’t behave in a certain way, talking about their sex lives, brushing up against women and claiming it’s an accident — and that’s just the sexualized stuff. The general sexist harassment for simply being a woman in the workplace is far worse and couched in a lot of rationalizations as being completely normal. (Tangentially, when I comment on this blog, there is a guy who routinely tries to harass me even though he knows I would like him to stop and leave me alone. I’m sure he has plenty of rationalizations for his continued shouting at me in comments.)

    The Rock was picked quite deliberately for that article not for his charisma but because he is a powerful male actor in the business and because of his violent, intimidating physical presence as a former pro-wrestler and action star. They didn’t suggest picturing Tom Hanks instead, the most affable guy in Hollywood. Because the idea is for the men to replace the women who they see as their inferior property, vulnerable and meant to serve their needs and sense of power, with the image of a man who they wouldn’t dare try anything on out of fear — to see the women as powerful, not as women because women are supposedly “weak”, but as a powerful man who can dominate them and thus they should keep to their place in the hierarchy. Which is funny but doesn’t change the general problem in society and the workplace about how women are viewed — that they can’t be seen as powerful as women.

    And also doesn’t necessarily work, as the story told by Terry Crewes shows. Crewes is also a physically imposing action star, and yet he was groped out in public by a guy he could probably bench press. The man who did it believed that his power in the industry would protect him from retaliation or physical hurt, no doubt as a “joke.” And he was right. Not offending the affable is not the fear of men in the workplace — it’s getting caught for doing something that they used to be able to get away with that made them feel good, powerful. So the use the Rock as image has is only to remind them that there might be consequences if they stop acting professional and harass. Because there are possibly consequences with a man, a big man, who they see as equal human beings and whose respect they desperately crave, but not, to these men’s minds mostly, with a woman. That this is slowly changing is what causes the consternation.

    But thanks for trying to mansplain sexual harassment to us women who deal with it all our lives: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/11/my-whole-life-has-been-marked-by-sexual-harassment—just-like-all-women

  70. SPJ, I’m with you on the “whisper network.” Sometimes it’s all you can do; when you join the other women for after-work drinks the first time after coming on board with the company, and they share the whisper network (or better yet, the “frank conversation” network), well, you know you’re in one of the more “woke” offices, and I always find that comforting. It’s been a Thing at many of my jobs. You know that women are looking out for you *as well as they can*.

    Alianne, I’m really sorry that happened to you; the former supervisor’s attitude is maddening. Short story for you: grew up with two sexual predators in the family when I was a kid; told Dad about A, and he agreed (he hated A). Told him about B, and I was a liar and it was all “feminist bullshit.” @#$%…. and that’s how I learned that women’s credibility is ALWAYS in question. Telling is risky.

    But I gotta believe we need to do it anyway.

    Nice job here, Scalzi. Keep doing the ally work, please!

  71. “Saying politically correct things gives you freedom to be a monster.”

    Come on, Pedro. Predators use camouflage to conceal themselves. One could just as easily say that saying conservative things gives you the freedom to be a monster. Ask Roger Ailes. Or that saying religious things gives you the freedom to be a monster. Look at the ongoing child abuse scandal in the Catholic church or recent scandals in various Protestant denominations.

    While part of it, though, Weinstein’s real camouflage wasn’t that he said politically correct things. It was that he had the power to destroy anybody who might complain.

  72. Pedro: “Saying politically correct things gives you freedom to be a monster.”


    Trump hasnt been impeached, yet, has he?

    Kat: ” doesn’t change the general problem in society and the workplace about how women are viewed ”

    Have you read the actual article?

    “While navigating professional relationships can often require that dreaded thing known as “any amount of work at all”, there is hope. You see, by following this one simple rule, you too can interact with women as people.”

    Pretty sure that wasnt intended to solve the general problem of how women are viewed in the workplace. Pretty sure she’s mocking the bullshit that some men are saying they dont know how to interact with women so they’re gonna cut them out completely.

    I thought it was pretty hilarious.

  73. bookwoman09 says:
    OCTOBER 10, 2017 AT 11:01 PM
    Why didn’t Palrow and Jolie and Pitt speak out? Object lesson–Cliff Robertson went public about Columbia Pictures head David Begelman forging Robertson’s signature to a check. Robertson was blacklisted for 5 years and never was a big star again. And this was with ironclad proof and Begelman’s conviction. Unless a woman has enough money to bankroll her own pictures, blacklisting can destroy her career. Plus if she feels successful and powerful enough to come forward, it will be “Why didn’t you say something back then?”

    That’s exactly what’s happening now. All the powerful women that weren’t powerful back then are being blamed.

    It’s Hillary’s fault. It’s Obama’s fault.

    No, folks, it’s Harvey Weinstein’s fault. And his board of directors. And every MAN that looked away and said nothing.

    It is the fault of the people who have power, not the people who have NO power.

    And a sexual predator is in the White House threatening to start a nuclear war, because he is too stupid to understand the ramifications.

    And today I read an article by a person I respect who thinks Obama should speak out and save us all.

    God help the United States of America.

  74. @msb “No means no” is obvious enough in most places, France included, for its permanent re-affirmation to appear utterly unnecessary. It appears to be different in the U.S.A., but whatever the reason, I’m not sure that the problem is with us.

    @MaxUtil “Harassing” and “attacking” are, as they should be, serious offences. Actual attacks, in the workplace or anywhere else, should yield to prosecution, no excuse. But the mere feeling that one isn’t perfectly at ease with other people’s behaviour is not necessarily constitutive of harassment or attack. To give a single example, in the last WorldCon in Helsinki, about half of the information displays in the Convention Center where about this issue, such “no means no” reminders, etc., while almost no displays of the location of current event could be found ; and specialized “listeners”, of both sex, could be found everywhere, while most pannels were impossible to attend, due to undersized rooms — a problem that was solved only the last day by an overworked staff. As far as I’m concerned, that’s oversensitivity to a single issue, and poor choices in the allocation of ressources.

    Concerning Strauss-Kahn, he’s a piece of shit. A (then) powerful and famous piece of shit, no question about it — but at least we didn’t elect him President! And while French media were obviously shocked, it was by the spectacle of the brutal fall of this powerful man (a shocking spectacle anywhere, including the U.S.A., as far as I can tell), but I don’t remember any of them (any half decent one, I mean), questionning the fact that he should have been arrested, given the circumstances. And no, rape isn’t “swept under the rug” in France. That’s a libelous stereotype.

    Yet — I apologize if I gave you the false impression that I considered Americans as “sleazy”. I emphatically don’t. Prone to consider their own customs and values as universal, certainly (no criticism there, we French also tend to the same bias), and to try and impose their to the rest of the world, maybe, on some issues — and this is one of them. Thus: collective bullies, possibly; but certainly not sleazy ones! ;-)

  75. Well said, Scalzi. We need, desperately need, everybody’s voice and light on this horrible stuff.

    For anybody wondering about the men in all this, great thread by Ben Rosenbaum (https://twitter.com/ben_rosenbaum/status/916733675185766400) on “the horrible shit men will do to stave off the terror of feeling dependent, inadequate, dominated, out of power ”

    Like an earlier commenter said, the current crrep is just one symptom of a whole sickness that needs eliminating.

  76. Amen.

    Also, somewhat related to that ‘Whisper networks are full of holes.’ Some time ago I was talking with a colleague about a former manager. She told me that it had been a running joke among the female staff and volunteers that he was one of those guys who always looked a woman in the tits. I hadn’t known or suspected that, because I don’t have those (and because that manager had never done or said anything else that was inappropriate.)
    Even longer ago I was at a party with an ex whom I was still friends with. At one point she told me that one of my friends had just made a pass at her. I’m not sure he even knew the two of us weren’t a couple anymore but the real point is that he was married and always going on about how much he loved his wife and how good & important their marriage was. I’d never before had any reason to doubt that – so that evening was a bit of an eye-opener.
    Obviously, both these examples are worlds away from H.W.’s crimes but I mention them because it shows we often know less than we think (and, no doubt, at times should suspect.)

  77. @Alliane As a librarian and someone who is in a supervisory role, I am so sad and angry that your first supervisor — another woman — didn’t stand up for you. I’m glad that your second supervisor responded as she did and I hope you never have to experience anything similar again.

  78. Hadnt heard about Pence’s rule to never eat alone with any woman other than his wife.

    Apparently it was invented by Billy Graham in 1948.


    “To guard against allegations or the actual abuse of money, sex, and power that had felled previous evangelists, the Graham team decided to take concrete steps to avoid the slightest whiff of controversy. ”

    So, it seems to have been a way for Graham to keep his team in line. If a team member is weak, the rule keeps an eye on them.

    Its sort of like requiring cops wear bodycams, before bodycams existed.

    The thing is, Graham seems to have done this as a top down enforcement to keep his team in line. Pence, on the other hand, doesnt report to anyone, but took on the notion from the point of view of a religious dogma. Either he doesnt trust himself, or he lost sight of why Graham implemented the rule.

    Imagine the VP wearing a body camera. Its a liitle weird to say the least. Vice presidents dont have a reputation of needing body cameras. So choosing to wear one would either be unthinking dogmatic parroting of Grahams rule ( given how dogmatic pence is, this wouldnt surprise me) or Pence doesnt trust the people he might meet. If thats the case, then pence thinks women go around looking for men to accuse of harassment. And the rule is to protect himself.

    Either way… just weird…

  79. Billy Graham did not invent the “do not seclude yourself with the opposite sex” rule. It’s been part of Orthodox Judaism for millennia. The Talmud attributes it to a precaution invented after a Biblical rape involving the children of King David.

  80. William, sorry. I misspoke. A couple articles about pence’s rule point back to Graham making the rule *popular* among christian bigwigs.

  81. @ Greg
    I share some of Kat’s reservations about The Rock mental exercise but agree that in many ways it’s a useful idea. Terry Crews’s experience, however, would seem to indicate that a sufficiently powerful person might want to demonstrate his power by treating even the largest mountain lion like a rabbit.

    @ Eric Picholle
    If no means no everywhere, why would you be nervous about meeting with women in the US? (And the allegations against Weinstein go miles beyond making people feel less than perfectly comfortable.) And what in the world does Worldcon’s antiharassment policy have to do with crowding related to having more participants than expected? Would eliminating the former have made the rooms bigger?

  82. The only part of this post I disagree with is “should be in jail”, because I’m a notorious hair-splitter and I need to keep my hair-splitting tool sharp. Jail *AND* prison, please-and-thank-you.

  83. Msb:” it’s a useful idea. Terry Crews’s experience, however”

    I dont know how “useful” it is. I mean, i dont think the men saying they will no longer meet with women privately are ssying it because they honestly dont know how to treat a woman like a human being. And I dont think this article was intended as actual useful advice to the woefully clueless.

    I think the point of The Rock article is to mock the goobers who tried making that excuse, because its a bullshit excuse.

    I think the goobers are saying it to indulge in the idea that Weinstein was setup and all the accusations are lies. And since the false accusations are so rmpant, they can only protect themselves by boycotting women.

    And the rock article mocks them for it. I mean, it seemed pretty damned sarcastic to me.

  84. Responding here to the post upthread that called the press his enablers: I can’t speak for anyone else in the entertainment press (including, back in the day, Scalzi), but I didn’t know any of the sexual harassment rumors about Weinstein, even though I’ve covered his movies for 30 years and met the man on several occasions. I knew he was sometimes a bully; indeed, he once raged at my editor over a story he found unflattering that I’d written about a Miramax movie. Lots of entertainment journalists have similar HW stories; they’d be a badge of honor if they weren’t so commonplace. In any case, his behavior toward me wasn’t physically threatening, litigious, or illegal. Perhaps because I’m a man, it did not occur to me that he might behave with others in ways that did cross those lines.

    As for those journalists who did know, again, I can’t speak for why they didn’t print the stories, except that I’m sure HW’s threats of litigation were genuine and scary. (Dude’s lawyer is Charles Harder, the attorney who bankrupted Gawker over a story that everyone acknowledged was true.) So I’m not surprised NBC killed Ronan Farrow’s Weinstein story, the same way the network ignored Trump’s Access Hollywood tape. It’s simple fear, not bro code or covering up for the guy because he’s a prominent liberal activist and fundraiser. Remember, the story was ultimately broken by two organs of the supposed liberal “fake news” press that were only too happy to take down a guy who was supposedly one of their own. Let me know the next time Fox News, Sinclair, Breitbart, the National Enquirer, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Drudge, or any other media outlet on the right does the same to a harasser like Trump, Ailes, or O’Reilly.

  85. Thank you for your words. Now that the light is being shown on the culture of sexual abuse in Hollyweird, it’s time to start outing the god damn pedophiles. That’s something else that everyone knows is going on, and nothing ever is done about it.

    Instead, kids like Corey Haim just die :(

  86. This entire post is good, but it honestly makes me sick that there’s so much disgusting bullshit still embedded in so many levels of our society.

    I mean, for fuck’s sake. I’m a socially-awkward homeschooled white guy, so I’m not exactly the most PC/socially aware person out there even when I’m not stressed out because of exams. And when I’m inclined to believe EVERY SINGLE ALLEGATION of sexual abuse or harassment to come out of Hollywood, even before seeing the evidence? Yeah. Something’s wrong with our culture.

    The thing that scares the shit out of me, though? The Terry Crews thing. The fact that not even money and strength and charisma and an intimidating appearance will protect you from casual sexual harassment…I mean, what the fuck? There’s no protection for anyone now that that’s the case, since those with the power and strength and charisma can’t protect those without all of those since they themselves are potential victims; there’s no hope or even a shadow of potential protection anywhere to be found.

    I want to be sick, honestly. The fact that this behavior is endemic in so many institutions, including ones that regularly preach or pay lip service to social justice, is beyond inexcusable. It is, as Mr. Scalzi said, no better than the orange sack of shit in the White House bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia on tape.

    I’m glad I’m going into paleontology. At least our only problem is a lack of women due to the old “dinosaurs are for boys” bullshit, and that’s being corrected.

    Also @ Mr. Scalzi, when you wrote:

    (white supremacist authoritarian populist masquerading as a conservative)

    I think the word you were looking for was fascist, Mr. Scalzi. I mean, he doesn’t wear SS runes on his collar or goose-step around in a longcoat, but Trump’s basically using the same bullshit that fascist leaders like Hitler and Mussolini did. He’s like President-For-LIfe Huey Long from certain playthroughs of the Kaiserreich mod*; only with a shitty power tie and a lot more loudmouthed cowardly bluster.

    *Alternate-history mod for a strategy game, one scenario involves a Second American Civil War between midwestern Communists, southern pseudo-fascists, western liberals, and a corporatist remnant US military regime.

  87. Floored:

    I’m glad I’m going into paleontology. At least our only problem is a lack of women due to the old “dinosaurs are for boys” bullshit, and that’s being corrected.

    No, kitten, it is not. The lack of correction over three decades, especially in the sciences, has been a problem growing worse. And sexual harassment is unfortunately rampant in the academic hard sciences: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/prof-accused-sexually-harassing-grad-students-antarctica-article-1.3547160

    Women are less likely to be hired, promoted, tenured, get research grants, fellowships, graduate funding, and funded chairs, get citations, head committees, get published, get asked to be pundits on media, etc. than men, in every field of academia. They are regularly harassed, suffer discrimination and are blackmailed into compliance and silence. This has been unchanging for a very long time and there is very little indication that it will change much in the future.

    It is a fundamental problem in how women are viewed in society. It’s not just a double standard — women are seen as stereotypically inferior and other in every detail, from how they talk to how they move. And they are seen that way by their nearest and dearest, totally liberal men — all the men — and also frequently by other women and other genders. It’s institutionalized because it is woven into the culture and you’ve been taught it all your life. It’s not something that can just be shrugged off. It requires men to constantly analyze their own behavior, not just other men’s, in the same way that women are forced to constantly analyze and adjust their behavior to be able to simply function dealing with men and social institutions. And that’s not something that men mostly want to do. Listening to women talk about it and considering women’s knowledge worthy is not something they want to do. Realizing that they’ve exploited women’s labor to get their accomplishments and rank, and stepping back from that is very hard to get even the most liberal guys to do.

    Tonight, I went to a presentation about an experimental agricultural center/research gardens that have existed since the 1890’s. And it was fascinating to hear about a whole bunch of women who served major research and supervisory roles at this facility developing cereal grains and plants, including inventing/hybridizing numerous variants of roses, peonies, daylilies, irises and flowering crabapples, from the 1910’s right through the 1960’s. Women with Ph.D.’s, who made major contributions to the food supply. It was fascinating because of course I didn’t expect it — because we’re taught that the women weren’t there.

    People do not realize how involved women have been in science, technology and development because their contributions have been largely erased or ignored, because it doesn’t fit the picture. (Which is why people who should know better and media keep claiming incorrectly that women geeks are a “recent” trend and you have all the ghoul boys who keep trying to claim women working is a “recent” thing in history that signals decline.) And so they think things are a lot better because women are somewhat more visible and recorded now. But in numerous areas, we’ve gone backwards — academia, tech and electronic games, political offices, engineering. As well as going backwards in medical care of women. Because if women are not kept as inferior in the society, then they are threats and competition that cause men to lose status in the hierarchy we still run by. We have to change the whole hierarchy and since that has to be done from the bottom up since the top sees its power as essential to its identity, it’s a very long, dangerous process.

    So if you go and become a paleontologist, then cite women, put women’s writings on your syllabus, suggest and put women on conference panels (and not just the same five every time,) support them on job search committees, ensure their safety on digs, LISTEN to them, etc. Because you won’t do it automatically, no matter what you believe. It will be a continual effort to think about it and step back from what you’ve been taught all around you, like the ocean, to realize your perceptions of women’s behavior and words is skewed by bias and you will have to think not like yourself to break that, not once but continually all your life. You will discriminate against the women in your life every day because that discrimination is normal for you, and you will have to give up being upset at people who bring up that discrimination if you want to change any of it.

    Weinstein is not being punished now because he sexually assaulted women and discriminated against them. He’s being punished because he became a bigger liability problem than the women he victimized — he lost status in the man game. (And has already fled to Europe to pull a Polanski.) Those who covered up for him have not lost status and are quite determined to not lose it. They will do nastier things to women now in Hollywood than they did before in order to keep women controlled and from making claims that actually cause consequences. That’s what #9 is part of — control, discrediting. And that’s what the people who tell you things are getting better for women in paleontology are also doing — control the women, discredit them as inferior, unreasonable and untrustworthy. That’s what the folks who didn’t want harassment policies at conventions were doing. We don’t need to do this, things are better now, this just causes division — control, control, control. They sincerely believe it often because it’s how they were taught to perceive it and it often benefits them. And challenges to those beliefs are seen as threats.

  88. @Kat: Sorry, poor choice of words on my part. But to the best of my understanding (which I admit is flawed and incomplete), harassing behaviour is not so very hard to recognise, even if it’s cast as a “joke” or otherwise given a thin cloak of plausible deniability. The harasser knows it’s wrong, and wouldn’t try it with the Rock.

    At the risk of over-analysing, the Rock’s affable persona is what makes the piece funny. Mike Tyson might be equally capable of breaking me in half, but he would do it at the slightest provocation or none at all. The Rock (in his public persona, I have no idea what he’d do in real life) would just raise an eyebrow, with the understanding that he could break me in half but is choosing not to. Humour is a useful tool for getting people’s attention and past their defences, to deliver a very simple lesson on how to interact with others.

  89. @Gary Susman I’m not sure if you are addressing my post or someone else. but since I did point to the press as one of his enablers, I’ll address it as if it is.

    First, here’s a link to a story outlining the events around NBC deciding not to run this story: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nbc-harvey-weinstein_us_59de5688e4b0eb18af059685

    Take note that it’s pretty clear that several someones high up at NBC were trying to quash this story. And that isn’t the only story about Weinstein that never made the papers. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/harvey-weinstein-media_us_59d7b846e4b0f6eed35011fc

    Second, “It’s simple fear, not bro code or covering up for the guy because he’s a prominent liberal activist and fundraiser.” I never mentioned that it was because he was a prominent liberal, or even implied it. I implied that he had money, which equaled power. Power that he used and abused to suppress negative coverage of him. So I really have no idea where this came, but am just going to blame it on the hell that is 2017.

    Finally, if fear stops a news organization from running a true story, then frankly they are in the wrong business.

  90. Sad to say, this goes on in all facets of whatever workplace you’re at. I work for a guv’ment entity, and it happens quite a bit. Problem is, the end result is pretty much what happens elsewhere if you complain and you’re low man on the totem pole (i.e. retaliation, blackballing, poor references). And honestly, more often than not, when you work for the guv’ment, if you’re caught, the union usually protects you from any kind of serious consequences.

    John, as always, a fantastically well thought out and well written piece. First one that I’ve read that gives a very good summary of what’s what with what.

  91. @janetdane: That statement is a trap. Either you agree with him validating his statement, or you disagree with him proving his statement.

  92. @ Msb If no means no everywhere, why would you be nervous about meeting with women in the US?
    First, because this phrase is very, very far from summarizing the issue. When one doesn’t have all the everchanging cultural keys associated to it, its extend appear quite arbitrary, and impossible to guess out.
    Secondly, because, as far as I’m concerned, while it is a firm rule, its extend is not infinite. Any woman — any private person, really — is obviously entitled to refuse to talk to me, or any unwanted physical contact, etc. She is not entitled to decide that I haven’t exactly the same right as her to stand in a rooom or to speak my mind. And the feeling (justified or not) that this distinction has become unclear is sufficient to make me nervous

    And what in the world does Worldcon’s antiharassment policy have to do with crowding related to having more participants than expected? Would eliminating the former have made the rooms bigger? .
    In this particular example, as far as I understand it, bigger rooms were available, as it finally ppeared the last day of the Convention. But an overworked staff wasn’t able to take the problem into account in time. And my point is not at all that the Convention shouldn’t have had a antiharassment policy — it should have. It is about the huge priority awarded to this special issue, even above the issue of running a smooth convention. And while eliminating the policy would obvioulsy not have made the rooms bigger, dedicating more staff to the management of space might indeed have helped to make the bigger rooms available earlier, just like dedicating less display time in the numerous screens to this antiharassment policy, and more to the programm might have helped finding the events. Just because an issue is important doesn’t make it the only important one.

  93. Sexual assault and sexual harassment are bad. But that in and of itself doesn’t really appear to be the nub of the issue, and focussing on it risks missing the point.
    Someone famous once said “power corrupts”, and I guess that someone else added “… and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. In any society/ structure/ situation where one person has power over another, inappropriate application of that power is a risk, and human nature being what it is that risk is almost always likely to be exercised. The power can endowed by the position in society may be applied by bullying, harassment, sexual advances or a myriad of other ways, but the fault lies in the combination of a person with not-completely-flawless personality with a structure that gives that person power over another.
    A frenchman up the thread was rebuked for not understanding how American society works (“no means no”), but the issue is that although the existence of a power imbalance, and inappropriate reinforcement/ display of that power imbalance, is pretty much universal, the tools used to identify and fight the power imbalance shift with time, and faster in the USofA than most other places. I am not sure that Mr. W’s sins are limited to being across the gender divide: if I were to guess I would say that he was pretty much an across-the-board abuser – it is simply in this case it was today’s vogue for identification of sexual harassment of women that was used to bring him down.
    This is a good thing: identification (and attempted eradication) of abuse is always a good thing, but the “problem” won’t be solved as long as there is an imbalance of power, and people to exercise that imbalance.

  94. Well said!
    Especially the part about how whisper networks attenuate as you go upwards; it makes a lot of sense, yet is the kind of a thing I’ve never thought about.

  95. “which makes me want to smack my head and wonder what the fuck is wrong with my sex”
    I think you mean gender, and the point is crucial especially in the points you raise about what to do about all of this. If the issue is sex, biological characteristics of bodies, then males get to say things like “well its just my nature”. Gender, on the other hand, refers to the socially constructed roles, activities, behaviors that construct in this case cig-gendered masculinity and manhood. Recognizing sexual predation as performances of gender puts the question of what we are to do about it in the terrain of politics and points us, as your article does, towards struggling to define and preform masculinity differently.

  96. WRT to the idea of men feeling uncomfortable in private settings with women, and the sort of issue I think M. picholle is driving at:
    “No means no” is pretty comprehensible to every (decent) man, I should hope, and certainly I don’t think many people are sincerely afraid they might accidentally start groping a co-worker.

    But… I spend a lot of time in the more progressive parts of the internets. And I see plenty of articles and comments from women where they speak of being made to feel threatened or at least uncomfortable by how a man looks at them, or how far away he stands, and other such things which simply aren’t as clear-cut to avoid as “don’t talk about sex and don’t touch people”. Moreover, I see a lot of women saying that they feel afraid to say when a man’s behaviour is making them uncomfortable.

    So I find it all too easy to imagine a scenario where I accidentally make a woman feel unsafe, not because I’m some kind of asshole who starts staring fixedly at her breasts and talking about the consistency of my semen, but because I don’t give her enough space and I talk too loudly, and she doesn’t wish to bring it up with me on account of not feeling safe. And I see people advocating a no-questions-asked “believe the victim” policy, and I don’t find it entirely unreasonable for men to feel as though their behaviour is being constantly assessed.

  97. WRT to the idea of men feeling uncomfortable in private settings with women, and the sort of issue I think M. picholle is driving at:
    “No means no” is pretty comprehensible to every (decent) man, I should hope, and certainly I don’t think many people are sincerely afraid they might accidentally start groping a co-worker.

    But… I spend a lot of time in the more progressive parts of the internets. And I see plenty of articles and comments from women where they speak of being made to feel threatened or at least uncomfortable by how a man looks at them, or how far away he stands, and other such things which simply aren’t as clear-cut to avoid as “don’t talk about sex and don’t touch people”. Moreover, I see a lot of women saying that they feel afraid to say when a man’s behaviour is making them uncomfortable.

    So I find it all too easy to imagine a scenario where I accidentally make a woman feel unsafe, not because I’m some kind of asshole who starts staring fixedly at her breasts and talking about the consistency of my semen, but because I don’t give her enough space and I talk too loudly, and she doesn’t wish to bring it up with me on account of not feeling safe. And I see people advocating a no-questions-asked “believe the victim” policy, and I don’t find it entirely unreasonable for men to feel as though their behaviour is being constantly assessed.

  98. On behalf of all men who value women as equals, I apologize for our idiot brethren who abuse their power to get their rocks off, from Trump, to Weinstein, to that manager you had, to the date who ignored your “no”. I am so sorry.

  99. As for our society, as Kat notes, believing in power, control and hierarchy,
    at John Lay College, as she reports in Sister Outsider (p98) teacher Audre Lorde heard a young white cop say in class “Yeah, but everybody needs someone to look down on, don’t they?”

    Not me. I try to get my self esteem in honest ways, because I honestly believe people are equal to me, and have equal rights, and I will hold even the most powerful to the standard of honesty.

  100. “And I see people advocating a no-questions-asked “believe the victim” policy, and I don’t find it entirely unreasonable for men to feel as though their behaviour is being constantly assessed.”

    Your eye has drifted away from the ball. Both Scalzi and the article quoted discussed men ceasing to meet with female colleagues. They are talking about the workplace, not date, a party, a book group or choosing a seat on the bus, when personal comfort and preferences naturally predominate. They are talking about segregating women from contact with male colleagues and bosses. I can’t see this practice having any positive effects on any woman’s career. What are these bosses/colleagues scared of that justifies penalizing their female staff/colleagues in this way? Truly or falsely being accused of sexual harassment or assault? Feeling judged by a woman? What is the terrible danger that makes them want to act like Mike Pence?

    I believe the victim, whether she be Rose McGowan or Terry Crews, unless facts about the events concerned come to light that cast doubt on the person’s story.

    “I don’t find it entirely unreasonable for men to feel as though their behaviour is being constantly assessed” is an astonishing statement. Of course men’s behavior is assessed; every person’s behavior is assessed. Assessing the mood, behavior and intentions of a person they are interacting with, in the workplace, in public or in a social setting, is essential to successful interaction and sometimes personal safety. So is assessment what concerns you or is it judgement? That, too, seems very common; people often decide what they think of others based on their interactions. I suggest that a person who is concerned that they may be making another person feel uncomfortable ask them if that is the case, and act in accordance with the answer. I have not found this hard.

  101. Greg: “What if the person knew and said nothing, and the reason they knew was because they were a victim? And the reason they said nothing was because they wanted to keep their job?”

    Apologies for not responding to this earlier.

    It’s a good question, and a tricky one on some level. Here’s my take: an individual who has been a victim has every right to privacy. I do not believe a victim has a moral obligation to come forward and let the world know what happened… to them. To them personally. They have the right to let people know or not, as they decide.

    That said. If the person who has been a victim knows about other victims, then they have a moral responsibility to report that. Otherwise, they are complicit in letting outrages continue. I believe “whisper campaigns” simply further the problem. Drag it all out into the light of day, with one caveat. Get proof first.

  102. Crane/msb: I don’t think there are clear cut answers in most normal situations. The “problem” here is that women used to bear the brunt of any uncertainty and now (some) people are trying to correct for that imbalance. There are going to be cases of over-correction and some men are going to be seriously hurt by this. Is the net effect going to be positive? Probably and by a good margin too. Should people try to refine social interaction and not just stop because there’s been some improvement? Hopefully.

    I don’t think the average women is going to treat this as an opportunity for “payback” or even think about these issues in those terms. My main concern is that organizations and social media don’t do nuance very well. So people on both sides will continue to be put through the meat grinder by “the rules” and that powerful sociopaths will game the system better than normal people will, no matter how “woke” we all get.

    I.e. the human condition with a slight spiral in the upwards direction.

  103. msb: “I believe the victim, whether she be Rose McGowan or Terry Crews, unless facts about the events concerned come to light that cast doubt on the person’s story.”

    Everyone can weight their personal assessments of evidence however they wish. I do hope that when it starts getting into whether to fire someone or not, a civil lawsuit, or criminal trial, that some respect is paid to a neutral weighting of evidence. And that individuals are not faulted for taking on the neutral approach on a personal level.

    Jo: “If the person who has been a victim knows about other victims, then they have a moral responsibility to report that. Otherwise, they are complicit”

    The cost/benefit table of harrassment has favored the harrasser and caused victims to remain silent. You are trying to raise the cost of remaining silent to change the outcome and stop harrassment, but that puts the entire additional burden on the victim.

    Another way to change the outcome is to lower the cost of reporting by making blackballing/firing much more expensive and a less likely outcome.

    Suing companies that keep harrassers would also increase the cost of harrassing, make it less likely for harrassment to occur, and does so by burdening the harrasser, not the victim.

    I get your intent is to stop harassment, but youre doing so by increasing the burden on the victims. You can achieve the same outcome by putting various new burdens on the harrasser.

    Just a thought.

  104. From the Benjamin Rosenbaum Twitter thread:

    “i am never surprised by the horrible shit men will do to stave off the terror of feeling dependent, inadequate, dominated, out of power …”

    You know, feeling like a woman.

  105. Iain:

    But to the best of my understanding (which I admit is flawed and incomplete), harassing behaviour is not so very hard to recognize, even if it’s cast as a “joke” or otherwise given a thin cloak of plausible deniability. The harasser knows it’s wrong, and wouldn’t try it with the Rock.

    Well no, again, it is hard for men to recognize because harassment is normal. Our society operates on harassment of women on a daily basis. (This is what patriarchy means and every country in the world is a patriarchy — male supremacy, discrimination against women and viewing them as inferior in socioeconomic power.) Men have been taught from the time they are young boys to have “manview” — centered on men and men’s perspectives. How they see and assess women they believe is normal and doesn’t harass and cause harm. The harasser does not know it is wrong and appeals to others who also assert that the harasser isn’t wrong, which then reinforces that the harassment behavior is normal and okay and the women who bring up that it is wrong are denounced as being unreasonable, unintelligent and untrustworthy. Only when you have enough people saying, this is a form of harassment and needs to change, do men and institutions begin to attempt changing their behavior — to avoid consequences. (Well, golly gee, I guess we need to hire some more women!) But the essential manview of women remains the same and status quo harassment in other areas continues as normal and acceptable, leaving women to have to maneuver through it.

    The article is dealing with more overt and deliberate sexual harassment in the workplace — but much of what is mentioned in the article is not considered by the majority of society as sexual harassment, as a problem. The article treats the men as clueless that their behavior is sexual harassment — because that is the case that women usually face in those situations. It’s opportunistic and bent on domination, but that’s been taught to men as normal, acceptable, achieving behavior by the society we are all in. It’s “winning!”

    Humour is a useful tool for getting people’s attention and past their defences, to deliver a very simple lesson on how to interact with others.

    Case in point — you’re still mansplaining here. :) The article is funny, as I already said a couple of times, and yeah, women don’t need this explained to them as they are forced to use humor to deal with men on a daily basis because women are not allowed to be angry and to make demands for behavior changed in our society — not unless a man gives them permission and approval (exerts domination of the hierarchy.) We use humor to deflect from harassment and men’s retaliation.

    I said the article was funny, but pointed out that it does continue status quo manview delusions in two critical areas — the presentation of the men wanting to harass the women because they found them pretty (“she looks like this”,) which isn’t why men sexually harass women at work — it’s a manview delusion that it’s about lust and thus it’s acceptable, normal impulse; and that they are to picture a physically imposing, hyper-masculine, potentially can harm them celebrity — a powerful, high status man — instead of a woman, who by being a woman, does not have any power or status and thus can be victimized. It’s saying you know you can’t victimize and dominate the Rock, so pretend the women could cause problems for you just like the Rock could. Which does, while funny, continue the sexist idea of women as powerful only if it is pretended that they are men — the superior beings. Men shouldn’t have to picture women as a physically imposing man they want to please to treat women professionally, but the article is pointing out that the entire society is sexist and so this is all we can do — because men collectively won’t look at and change their views. The Rock is superior to the women, therefore picture the Rock. (Plus there’s a dash of homophobia of straight men — “straightview” — in there for spice.)

    Now, consider how defensive you got over those criticisms, that I accepted the joke and understood how the woman author was using it, but also pointed out how aspects of the humor reinforced sexist norms, and thus was related to the same sort of view expressed by men in item #9 of Scalzi’s piece. Think about why that happened, Iain, that you felt you had to defend and explain the article to a woman who had mild criticisms of it regarding sexist norms and used those criticisms to point out those sexist norms. Think about how it had to be for you that the Rock was affable and fun to be with — not physically powerful with possible force consequences, that cops are nice to hang with rather than the directly mentioned in the article consequence that they’d beat you up and arrest you for hitting on them.

    Another layer to the humor of the article — which most women fully get — is that men are taught to view things in terms of violent competition and the approval (status) of other men, and you were trying to walk away a bit from the violence part. But women cannot walk away from the violent part. The Rock was not picked by that woman author because he’s “affable” or restrained. Women have to be affable and restrained. The Rock was picked because he’s NOT restrained, can’t be forced to be affable and is a high status, violently powerful male other men do not want dominating/mad at them, especially concerning sex. That’s the joke. That’s why picking the Rock is funny to women, whom this article was half written for in commiseration.

    Manview is sneaky because it is our lives, and women and other genders often fall into it too — quite often because they have no choice but to go along and work with it, but even more often because of habit and training. Take picholle, for instance. He feels that he, as a guy, has freedom of speech — to speak his mind, but that there should be no consequences to his speaking his mind from other people reacting to his words, which isn’t part of free speech. And American women aren’t “entitled” to free speech that criticizes him on his speech or behavior and calls him out about sexism. They aren’t entitled to claim he’s harassing them, harming them or making them scared with his speech and behavior if he’s not touching them directly or hitting them up, etc. — only what he approves of, as the man, as harmful and discriminating. And he paints the picture that American women are unreasonable, untrustworthy and a threat — they can’t make the proper “distinctions” about his speech and behavior that he finds acceptable. He’s nervous about how they will retaliate — dominate him. He’s nervous about consequences. It’s the same argument that men make re item #9 — women are untrustworthy and may hurt men over their rights so they need to be controlled and their free speech restrained. And conventions should not devote so much time and energy to women’s safety concerns and attempts to make the venue more equal thereby so that they can do their jobs and/or enjoy the convention, he feels, because it is not the only issue.

    But making events more equal is the major issue in conventions and conferences not only in the U.S. but all over the world. Because you can be Angela Merkel, now the leader of the free world, and you still will be harassed on a daily basis for being an inferior as a woman, as she is. And because it’s taken decades of that very free speech that makes picholle so nervous to get any convention to even have a harassment policy — and many of them still don’t because of this sort of thinking by the organizers.

    We do not deal with problems that upset socioeconomic hierarchies and benefits from them for ruling groups. We try to stomp them out, cover them up, shut up and discredit those who are raising them and demanding change. (Twitter just suspended Rose McGowan’s account.) Only when there are too many consequences to that is a problem tackled and then it is done with attempts to protect many who simply let it go on from any consequence. The problem is treated as an isolated incident, rather than a system wide problem that teaches people to think automatically that the problem is normal, invisible, not that bad and nothing to do with them personally. Rinse, repeat.

    Weinstein is a bad guy. He’s also a perfectly normal Hollywood executive whose behavior was massively approved of and accepted. What we do with that next determines how much change towards equality we get. I’m thinking it’s not going to be much right now.

  106. Kat, Did you know you spend an entire paragraph revealing the inner thoughts of all the men?

    (Women are viewed as inferior by) “their nearest and dearest, totally liberal men — all the men”

    “that’s not something that men mostly want to do.”

    “Listening to women talk about it and considering women’s knowledge worthy is not something they (all the men) want to do”

    “considering women’s knowledge worthy is not something they (all the men) want to do”

    And this isnt just about the men who harrass women. This is about ALL the men. Even the nearest, dearest, totally liberal men.

    As a man, I would request that you stop pretending you can read my thoughts, and stop using that as an opportunity to project whatever spectral evidence you want to see in all mankind.


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