Oct 30, 2017
Since the news broke on October 5 that two women had accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, a number of other actresses dared to say they too were victims.
The fact that well-known actresses didn’t dare say this until now shows what is happening to women, and not only in Hollywood.
Weinstein, with a fortune of at least 150 million dollars, was considered one of the most important movie producers in the U.S. Time magazine called him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012. He used his power to hire and fire, it seems, to demand sexual favors from actresses, with the complicity of the rest of Hollywood.
A first attempt by a New York Times journalist to investigate similar cases in 2004 was swept under the rug. It took a lot of courage for more than 30 women to step forward with accusations against Weinstein, some actresses, some employees of his production company, breaking the silence.
The Weinstein affair has been much in the news because the actresses who stepped forward were well-known. Other recent scandals about sexual harassment or assault have come out against bosses in the big tech firms of Silicon Valley, not to mention the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, who was forced to resign last June due to sexual harassment and intimidation complaints.
These women stepping forward encouraged others to do the same. And on the internet recently, the hashtag “metoo” received millions of tweets from women who had also experienced workplace sexual harassment or assault. This could be just the tip of an iceberg of women who have had to defend themselves from the predations of men at one time or another during their working lives.
It also shows what women put up with in society everywhere. Too many of them have had to defend themselves against verbal or physical attacks. And often when they make the accusations, they face the loss of a job and a heavy weight of prejudice working against them in the court system. It is rare that any woman receives justice or that those responsible face the penalties they deserve.
As women and as workers, women must lead a struggle to defend their rights, faced with men who have profited from their power, given to them by a society based on exploitation.