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Of morals and men

Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it

Blimey. This Harvey Weinstein thing just goes on and on. And it gets worse and worse.

Why did an overweight, middle-aged man in Hollywood spend years using his fame, money and influence to try and get young, infinitely more attractive women than he into the bedroom? Because he could.

Were any of us really surprised at the revelations that have come out of Hollywood last month about the appalling behaviour of Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein? No. Or, rather, we may have been surprised at the extent of this lechery and horrified at the number of men – and women, let’s be clear about that, too – that enabled him to behave thus. But amazed and surprised that it happened at all? Nope.

A male friend sent me the following the other day, the general jist of which is – “What is so amazing to us about this? What is so unthinkable in finding out that a high profile man has been using his position of authority, his wealth and his fame to impose his malicious intent, evil mind and deviant ways on others, for literally decades? … If we are honest, this whole sorry story has only generated one real element of surprise. Not that such a vile predator should exist but why, oh why America… did you make him your President?”

From Trump to Weinstein – too tenuous a link? I don’t think so. Let’s face it, in a world where a man who thought similar behaviour was just being ‘one of the boys’ and one of the perks of being a really rich guy, who then managed to get himself elected as President, why would we be surprised that such a culture existed for so long around an industry and a corporation which gave us the term “casting couch”.

What’s more scary is the sheer industry that was built around enabling Weinstein. The groups of people who, one by one, would peel off to take phone calls or talk to someone else, eventually leaving Weinstein alone with young women who had, until that point, felt there was safety in numbers.

Women have been asked why they didn’t ‘speak-up’. Well, there are loads of reasons why they wouldn’t. Afraid they would harm their career prospects, afraid they wouldn’t be believed, and afraid they would be blamed… The same reasons women have always kept quiet about abuse. For this is what it is. Abuse. Abuse of power.

Now there are plenty of men coming out of the woodwork to condemn Weinstein and rightly so. With many of them you have to ask – surely they knew? Surely they had some inkling? The answer, I’m afraid, is probably, yes, they knew. Deep down, they knew.

Hollywood screenwriter Scott Rosenberg wrote this http://deadline.com/2017/10/scott-rosenberg-harvey-weinstein-miramax-beautiful-girls-guilt-over-sexual-assault-allegations-1202189525/ about his early days at Miramax. It makes uncomfortable reading but explains a lot.

Hopefully times are changing. Step forward Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton’s running mate for the White House in 2016, whose righteous outrage here at Weinstein’s behaviour gives me hope. This is what you could have had, America, this is what you could have had. But you chose bluster over substance. And more fool you.





About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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