When Harvey Weinstein Assaults Women, We Find Women To Blame

Photo courtesy of Flickr user pinguino k

When Harvey Weinstein Assaults Women, We Find Women To Blame

by Taia Handlin | Featured | Oct 13, 2017

Once again, a woman is punished for exposing a sexual predator.

Twitter suspended actress Rose McGowan’s account for 12 hours, citing no specific tweet or violation of its terms of use. It could have been her tweet storm against Ben Affleck, calling him a “liar” and telling him to “fuck off” for claiming he had no idea about Weinstein’s actions. Or tweeting “Bob Weinstein is a POS. They Allllll knew.” Or it could have been any number of her other tweets against Weinstein and his company.

It doesn’t matter which tweet triggered the suspension. None of them were hate speech or abusive. They were angry tweets about abusive, hateful behavior by powerful men. But as stories of sexual abuse teach us again and again, we look to any woman to take the blame, or at least share it, with the actual perpetrator.

The easiest target for blame is Weinstein’s wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman. She has been condemned for marrying him in the first place and staying with him (though she has now announced she plans to leave him). Critics insinuate she has been complicit all these years, that she knew, that it’s her fault for not outing her husband’s predatory abuse.

No evidence, no further argument, no attached article. Just “I have a feeling.” Which seems to be all the evidence needed to indict her. In 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney had the incriminating tape of Weinstein admitting to molesting a young actress but concluded it was not sufficient evidence for a criminal charge. And yet, a marriage certificate is sufficient evidence to accuse his wife of criminal complicity.

“Now she has to live with the consequences.” Of marrying him. Not him, for serially abusing his power over young women, or his company for aiding him through willful ignorance.

It’s not surprising that Weinstein’s wife would garner attention, good or bad. But even being a woman in the periphery is enough to draw ire. A few days after the initial story broke in The New York Times, Hillary Clinton was asked about her connection with Weinstein, who donated to her campaign and many other democratic candidates. Saying she said she was “sick” and “shocked,” Clinton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria “I was appalled. It was something that was just intolerable in every way.”

Weinstein’s name barely comes up in the stories about Clinton. They’re focused on her enabling sexual predators and all the ways she’s plotting to destroy America. With no outside information, one could easily assume she was the predator, not Weinstein. Or that she and he are on equal levels of evil, like so many said about her and Trump in 2016.

Nobody summed it up better than MSNBC’s Chris Hayes:

And of course, there are the myriad women who spoke out about their experiences on Weinstein’s casting couch and hotel rooms. “Why didn’t you come forward sooner?” we ask. “Why didn’t you fight him off?” we ask women like Asia Argento, who accused Weinstein of orally raping her. Why did she not fend off a giant, hairy beast twice her size?

Women don’t speak out not just because they fear not being believed, they stay quiet because of the vitriol levied at women who accuse men of sexual violence. To accuse a man of rape is to call one’s own character in question and it becomes a story with two victims, not one.

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