The Horror of Harvey Weinstein

The despicable acts Harvey Weinstein committed for decades finally caught up with him. As of now, over 50 women have accused the media mogul of sexual abuse and rape. Their harrowing accounts are eerily similar and lead us to wonder how anyone could get away with these crimes for so long. Indeed, a web of deceit and manipulation has allowed him abuse women in the film industry. The powerful stories of these women serve as a reminder that we can never stop fighting to eliminate sexual misconduct, especially in the workplace.

It all began with a bombshell article posted by The New York Times detailing Weinstein’s attempts to pay off numerous women who accused him of sexual assault and misconduct. Following its release, a wave of women came forward — not only expressing solidarity and support for those mentioned in the article, but saying that they, too, had been forced into sexual situations with Weinstein. The women who have come forward include household names like Cara Delevingne, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. Most of the women said that Weinstein made advances on them early in their careers, when they felt they did not have the power to resist or come forward without risking their careers.

The very fact that women must weigh their career prospects against their ability to come forward about sexual abuse is both tragic and appalling. While there is no denying that we have come a long way in trying to eliminate the culture of slut-shaming and victim-blaming, cases like these make all of us realize that our work here is not done just yet.

There’s a ‘Harvey Weinstein’ in every industry: we've seen similar accusations about Bill O’Reilly, about prestigious professors from places like University of California and Vanderbilt University and even about our current president. The Weinstein scandal is indicative of our cultural tendency to sweep allegations against powerful individuals under the rug. This pervasive issue needs to be put to an end; and it begins with believing victims when they come forward, providing employees at every company a mechanism to speak out about their experiences and by refusing to stay quiet about allegations. We need to empower victims and let them know that they aren’t alone, that it wasn’t their fault and that this behavior will not be tolerated in any industry.

Harvey Weinstein was able to use his influence and wealth to manipulate countless women into staying silent about their abuse. By paying off victims, he made each woman feel alone and powerless, unable to speak out because of non-disclosure agreements. While there were consistent and long-held rumors about Weinstein in Hollywood, no one spoke out. Perhaps they didn’t realize the extent of the misconduct or decided it was easier to ignore. Regardless, every individual has a responsibility to speak out about these issues to ensure that those in powerful positions are held to the same standards as everyone else.

This incident has given a voice to millions of women through the #metoo movement, nonetheless. It’s amazing how something so simple can say so much; not only can fellow victims use the hashtag, but anyone who stands with victims of sexual abuse can also use it to show solidarity. There is power in coming forward, and by using the hashtag we can help women regain their voices in their own way. What started as a horrible case of abuse has empowered a platform for victims and supporters everywhere to not only come forward with their stories but also try to shift cultural perceptions around workplace sexism and abuse. We are stronger together, and #metoo lets the world know it.

While people have been swift to pull their support from Weinstein and condemn his actions, it’s too little and too late considering the numerous women who were trapped through the decades he abused women. We need to stand with victims and create a culture in which they can feel comfortable in coming forward and putting an end to the abuse they suffered. One voice can truly change the lives of many others, and we need to work to make sure this type of abuse is thoroughly eradicated from our culture. No individual — no matter how rich or powerful — has the right to manipulate and treat others as Harvey Weinstein has, and it’s on us to make sure no one else does.