The Harvey Weinstein Scandal: A Reflection

Exactly one month ago, an article published by the New York Times reported that their investigation “found previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. [Harvey] Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.”  It is now known that dozens of women have been subjected to Weinstein’s sexual misconduct over the years, many of whom had been paid off to keep quiet about the harassment.

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What is troubling about this situation is not only the allegations and Weinstein’s egregious behavior against women, but also some of the responses to this situation that are representative of a narrative that has, unfortunately, become the norm when these situations are revealed. In an interview with Deadline, Matt Damon said, “Look, even before I was famous, I didn’t abide this kind of behavior. But now, as the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night.”  It has become a common occurrence for men to mention their daughters when speaking out against gender violence, and I’m sick of it.  Now, I understand the argument that sometimes we need to make an issue something personal for people in order to mobilize for change. But what does it say about humanity that we have to be personally affected by something in order to have permission to care?  Let me illustrate with another, very different, example:

Millions of people around the world do not have easy access to clean water. Women and children have to travel, sometimes miles in one direction, with a heavy container just so their families can have water. I, on the other hand, live in America. I am privileged where I have access to clean, running water pretty much everywhere I go. Traveling long distances to get water is not something that I have to deal with. It doesn’t affect my life in any way whatsoever. But, my lack of an experience with this issue does not negate the fact that limited access to water is something that affects millions of people and makes life really difficult for them.

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A woman’s relationship with a man is not what gives her worth, or makes her deserving of dignity and respect. Women are worthy of all of these things because we are human beings. And the reason why people, especially men, should care about the abuses and forms of oppression faced by women is because women are people.  At some point, we have to move beyond invoking a woman’s relation to a man when discussing how awful gender violence is because, at the end of the day, these personal relationships are irrelevant. Yes, I am someone’s daughter and someone’s friend, but like all women, I am also someone.