More than ten women to date have accused yet another powerful man of sexual harassment, assault and/or rape (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/us/harvey-weinstein-harassment-allegations.html). Harvey Weinstein, a well-known Hollywood producer, has been accused of sexually violating several actresses, models and/or employees over the span of three decades. In addition, Weinstein has settled financially in at least eight different cases over the years. The cover ups that allowed this behavior to go on for so long are still coming out and are sure to include his employees, actors and others in the industry—including, I have no doubt, other industry leaders. This type of behavior seldom goes on without many people knowing about it and covering for it.
All of the above is bad enough, however what really is a travesty is that after more than ten women and eight settlements, we STILL we have WOMEN coming to his defense. We even have women questioning the women involved. Donna Karan, a fashion icon, wonders if women are “asking for it” in the way they dress (http://www.eonline.com/news/885929/donna-karan-defends-harvey-weinstein-asks-if-women-are-asking-for-it). Lindsey Lohan, a famous actress, says she feels bad for Weinstein and shamefully tells his wife that she should stand by him (http://people.com/movies/lindsay-lohan-defends-harvey-weinstein/). Lisa Bloom, celebrity women’s advocate attorney, stated, days before resigning from representing Weinstein, that, “He has acknowledged mistakes he has made. He is reading books and going to therapy. He is an old dinosaur learning new ways. He wants to reach out to any of the women who may have issues with him to talk to them in a respectful, peaceful way, with me present if that is acceptable to them.” http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/10/07/harvey-weinstein-scandal-why-are-so-called-feminists-defending-this-creep.html).
What?! “He’s an old dinosaur learning new ways”? You mean the fact that rape is a crime is just a lesson he unfortunately never learned? All these “old” men in positions of power didn’t know it wasn’t okay to “grab women by the pussy” or breasts, or to pull up their skirts and force oral sex on them or to pull out their penises and shove women’s heads down to give them oral sex? Bullshit. All of these men knew.
The Bill Cosbys, Donald Trumps and Harvey Weinsteins of the world KNOW. They KNOW. Rape and sexual assault speaks to character and power, NOT circumstance. These men know the women won’t be believed. They know they have all the power they need to harass, abuse, assault and rape women at their leisure. Not only do they know this, they count on other women to defend their despicable actions. They also count on their victims not reporting these assaults. These men aren’t dinosaurs who don’t know better—these are men who absolutely do know better. These are men who not only know better, they actually count on what they know. They know they have the power to scare, intimidate, frighten and take advantage of any female they choose. They know our world will excuse their actions (he’s just an old dinosaur), minimize their words (“locker room talk”) and put the blame on the victims (the women were “asking for it”). They know they can count on women as much as men to defend them, turn a blind eye or even misplace the blame. They KNOW.
The women who have come forward deserve a tremendous THANK YOU from each and EVERY woman on this planet. Sexual assault and rape is a tremendous problem that traumatizes countless lives. Until we dare to name it, report it and stand against it, every women and girl will continue to be at high risk. When one woman blames another woman for rape, she harms all women. When one woman defends the sexual harassment, assault or rape by a man, she harms all women. And, when one woman has consensual sex with a man—after he sexually assaults her—she teaches him that his assault was okay.
As women, we have to find the courage to say no, speak out, report assaults and place the blame where it lies—with the abuser. Dare to fight, kick, scratch, call the police, call the newspapers, press charges and stand up. We also have to stop making choices that will absolutely kill our souls—like continuing to befriend a man after he has assaulted you. When you continue to amicably interact with a man who assaulted you, you send him the message that what he did was okay. Don’t ever send that message.
Challenge: Women blaming other women, is toxic to all women. Stand up against rape, assault and harassment and start holding the men accountable. Your safety, as well as the safety of all females, depends on it.