Dear Mr. Harvey Weinstein

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Courtesy of Whim Online Magazine

Dear Mr. Weinstein,

In the recent weeks I have found it necessary to pen a letter regarding the recent allegations against your actions over the years. As more has been revealed, I continue to become increasingly disgusted by your inexcusable behaviour towards women and feel a formal reflection is necessary. I have felt in recent weeks that women and the idea of feminism have been under attack, that not only have your actions demeaned girls in general —not to mention those you actually harmed— but have taken us back to a much darker and unsettling era for women, one in which they do not feel comfortable in the presence of men in a position of power, in the presence of men like you.

 

In case you missed this whirlwind of events, here is a reminder of what has occurred over the past few weeks. On October 5 of this year, the New York Times published an article revealing 30 years of sexual misconduct performed by Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein. With this is included the revelation of 8 settlements with Weinstein’s victims. Not long after, he released a response to the allegations, part of it stating, “I came of age in the ‘60s and 70’s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. I have since learned it is not an excuse, in the office-or out of it. To anyone”. However, after days of turmoil on October 8 it was announced that The Weinstein Company was to immediately terminate Weinstein from his executive position. Following this comes days of disapproval and reflection from many, including many Hollywood celebrities. On October 10, Harvey Weinstein’s representative released, in part, the following statement: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein…[and] has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.” However, backlash against Weinstein followed, including (on the same day) the announcement of his now ex-wife, Georgia Chapman’s, decision to separate from her husband his with the hashtag, #MeToo, trending on social media, as a reflection of those affected by sexual harassment/assault. Beginning with actress Ashley Judd revealing her account with Weinstein in 1997, the list of those directly affected by his actions has continued to grow with 40 women reporting sexual misconduct, among whom are Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cara Delevingne, Mira Sorvino, and many others. Many celebrities have also spoken about their own experience with assault in the workplace, although not directly associated with Weinstein, including powerful revelations by Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence, America Ferrera, Molly Ringwald, Lady Gaga, and many others as the list continues to grow.

When I initially watched this month’s events unfold it didn’t occur to me to think beyond what had happened, to realize that these attacks represent so much more than just Harvey Weinstein, that they remark upon a whole culture of male dominance, a whole society full of people that can dismiss these despicable actions for twenty years the way we did. Following other cases, including the ongoing trial of Bill Cosby, presents yet another heart wrenching revelation about the corruption faced in Hollywood. Furthermore, what I find particularly repulsive about this case is that it has been occurring for years, and Weinstein has simply been paying out his victims in settlements, some of his witnesses saying, “Oh that’s just Mr. Weinstein,” only perpetuating this social norm. In my opinion, no sums of money could possibly heal the emotional trauma that has faced those affected.

It is evident Weinstein acted this way to demonstrate his power, yet that need for dominance is not a trait he acquired by being a powerful executive but one that was given to him as a child. From the time our parents discover our gender, there is a drastic divide between boys and girls. I can remember being in elementary school and the vice principal reminding us that, as “young women”, we were expected to dress and behave in a specific way. We were told that certain parts of our bodies had the potential to provoke young boys and were forced to cover knees, chests, and shoulders. As a twelve-year-old girl, I was taught that my bra strap was a dirty object, though it was a time when I did not yet completely understand sexual appeal and misconduct. What I consider to be more disturbing is that throughout high school, it was not just the teenage boys we worried about. I’m sure we have all seen reports of schools with restrictive dress codes, due, not only to the boys at the schools, but the male faculty being distracted as well. The fact that we are teaching boys from a young age that it is normal to view girls as sexual objects, that older men display the same behaviour, is more likely than not why we are having this problem in the first place. Not to mention the fact that young girls, like myself, are taught from the time we can dress ourselves that what we wear might cause boys to have dirty thoughts, might cause something that, of course, “we brought upon ourselves,” that our bodies are dirty and sexuality is a sin- and that is simply absurd to me. I am ashamed of the society that calls itself progressive, ashamed of the fear so many women have of working in the media, and most of all, ashamed that in the future I will be one of the women who needs to be afraid, who needs to watch her clothing, who needs to be considered “modest”.

In recent months, I have heard nearly every misogynistic reaction to the matter at hand from, “It’s an excuse for being lazy,” to “It’s out of proportion,” sometimes, “It’s a way to make everyone a target,” and I’ve even heard, “It’s just a group of hormonal-driven menstruating women.” Yet, the way I see it, these reactions are the root of the problem. Women have been fighting for years to have equal rights, to vote, to drive, to work, to have equal pay. The only difference is that now women are fighting for the right to not assume they will be sexually harassed in the workplace, to not be ostracized for opposing these crude actions. It seems almost ridiculous that we need to fight to not be abused, to not be taken advantage of, to have the rights all men are born with. So, no, the feminist movement is not a bunch of moody women, but thank you for your concern. Feminism is the belief that women should be treated equal to their male counterparts, so it should be assumed that includes a woman not being used solely for her body. I am amazed at how far we have come in recent years– I really am– but it is not enough. Until the men sitting at the executive chairs of high end companies, the superior millionaires, and even the everyday working-class man realizes that feminism affects them, we will not truly be equal. Yes, Mr. Weinstein, that includes you too.  

 

Dear Mr. Weinstein,

Every day I continue to be appalled by your behaviour. The fact that you could even consider using these women the way you have is beyond my comprehension, for I cannot understand how a person with even a hint of compassion could fathom carrying out such an inhumane act. And to the women affected: I am so deeply sorry for what you have gone through. The toll it has taken on your lives is one that is irreversible. Whether you have spoken out, told your story, or are still struggling to come to terms with what you have gone through, I, as well as many others, commend you for your bravery and will always stand behind you. To have to relive your trauma every day and to share this deeply emotional aspect of your life with the world takes a strength beyond words. Just know, regardless of what may have happened, it is NOT your fault. Do not let the world silence you; you have a voice that deserves to be heard, and I am so incredibly proud of all the powerful women that have spoken out against injustice in the recent months. We will get through this together. We will keep fighting. With that being said:

Me too, Mr. Weinstein. Me too.

 

-Sydney Ingram