Harvey Weinstein is that guy.
After eight exhausting months of Trumpdom, the Weinstein news broke a year after the “Access Hollywood” tape first dropped, almost to the day. Now Weinstein is the cathexis for our rage at living under the harasser in chief.
Donald Trump got away with it, like he gets away with everything. Most women — even battle-hardened feminists — have given up on making anything stick to him. But now here is Harvey Weinstein, and his long-running show in the hotel room bathtub has been canceled. Right here, right now, in Trump’s America, a powerful man has been taken to the cleaners and put out on a wire hanger.
Women are thrilled. Gobsmacked. I did not see this coming. No women’s issue has hit this high on the outrage thermometer since Trump took office. There was a women’s march the day after the inauguration, and then a quiescent resistance. Hope for 2018. Then for 2020. Then just for someday. Someday, maybe, it won’t be 1958 anymore.
But now: Wow! The Weinstein scandal is the sound of blowback.
Sexual harassment has done it. This is the thing that disgusts women. My iPhone is screaming at me with text messages from friends:
I hope a group of women armed with clubs beats him black and blue. And leaves him on the steps of the New York Courthouse, naked in the cold.
Happy to see the blame fall on the perp and not the victim for a change
Like, wake me when anything structural changes
There is no such thing as a woman who has not experienced sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a lifestyle. It is just dating for powerful men. Most of them don’t know they are doing it. They don’t believe they are engaging in bad behavior. They are sure they are the handsomest men in the world — why else would they be so successful? They think every woman is dying to get with them.
Men who do this sort of thing think they are just being friendly. They are just asking the girl out who — so what? — happens to work for them.
Asking again and again and again.
Pushing her against the wall.
Threatening her — of course not meaning it, because that would be totally wrong.
Over and over again. But, no, not seriously, of course.
We’re all grown-ups.
But asking again and again. And again.
Until it is unbearable and someone has to leave, usually her. No: always her.
She has to go.
It was her fault for not being easygoing. Maybe — this has to be it — she had her period. Women are so touchy. Why can’t they take a joke? Why can’t they laugh about it? He was not serious about the whole throwing her against the wall thing. This is an office, so of course not.
Oh, whatever. Women just suck.
That is what women are almost always up against with sexual harassment. No one listens to them. They are stuck. They put up or shut up. There is no point reporting it. Nothing changes. It makes matters worse to tell. Then not only are you a grouch, you are also a tattler.
Yet in the doom and gloom of the Trump presidency, Weinstein was fired by a board of directors of nine white men, who for years enabled him and who are now running for cover themselves.
Women love this story. We are in a frenzy of hashtags. People keep asking me who I think should be investigated next. There is all this excitement, as if consciousness is change.
But it is not even a precursor to it most of the time. We are mostly frogs wishing we were tadpoles. The forward march of time is a crawl.
Sexual harassment is not about sex or love. It is about power. It thrives among cults of personality, because rock stars have groupies, and so do CEOs. Weinstein’s wretched behavior was a tribute to his dominance. Through years of lawsuits and settlements, at his closely held concern, aberrance was tolerated like some fringe eccentricity, because — because why? Because they told themselves this day was never coming. Plainly Weinstein was impossible to challenge. That is power.
Sexual harassment is the result of the male-dominated power structure. It will take more than awareness to topple that.
We have been through this before, with Clarence Thomas, in televised hearings that we all watched, and with Bill Clinton, on and on, and of course with Trump.
Nothing changed after those long nights of the soul.
Of course not.
Powerful men do not believe the rules apply to them.
Do powerful men know what they are like? They do not. It is that lack of self-consciousness that allows them to propel forth. Stop wondering if Donald Trump knows what he is like. A rainbow does not see it has color.
Hollywood is a minor offender when it comes to sexual harassment. Things are really bad in New York and Silicon Valley. Hello, Fox News! Hailing Uber! And a special shout out to D.C., intern central, where politics makes strange bedfellows.
Sexual harassment is bad everywhere that men and women work together. The workplace is a steam bath. What can we do? It is a hotbed of hot beds. It is where so much dating action happens. It is where men and women meet. It is difficult to police. If you get the feeling it is total chaos, you are catching on. Young people getting in one another’s pants is the cost of doing business. But powerful old men are supposed to stay in the corner suite where they belong.
Plainly, they don’t.
Women are angry. We should be. About all of it. We are a failed revolution. Sexism is bad. We notice it now. Where did all these white men come from, and when will they go away? Because of Trump, I don’t even like listening to Bob Dylan anymore, because I am so sick of what any man has to say about anything at all. And I am trying to be reasonable. It is unbelievable to be a woman with Trump as president, such a profound insult that all men are implicated. This week it’s Weinstein, but moving right along. We need to fix the whole thing.
Or as my favorite text message put it: Men. Again.