If I were a political cartoonist, I would draw a copy of the Rape of the Sabine Women and make the male faces look like Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, and, oh yeah, Donald Trump. As Claude Rains says in Casablanca, “I’m shocked to find out that there is gambling going on in this institution! Shocked!” Well, OK. I’m shocked to find out that men in powerful positions sexually harass and rape women. Shocked!
When Bill Clinton was impeached for having sex with “that woman” with whom he denied having sex [What’s your definition of sex?], a book came out that chronicled the sexual affairs of all of Clinton’s predecessors in the Oval Office. It’s a pretty extensive and tawdry list. If I had read that book as a child, or even at age 12, I might have been surprised, but being a man, I’ve known a lot of other men. Guys talk to each other in ways that they don’t talk to women, so the idea of sexual abuse of power, although not appealing to me, should be well known to every man in America.
Of course, women, being the abused parties, also talk among themselves and are equally aware of this phenomenon. Neither men nor women have ever wanted to publicize what’s been going on. Men don’t want to lose their jobs and wives and/or go to prison. In the past, women were afraid of losing their jobs and their reputations as ladies. Society forced them into feeling shame for being a sexual victim. Now that shame stuff is starting to get old. Starting is a beginning.
I’ve been in a few positions with some power—obviously not on the level of the aforementioned abusers, but I’ve been in the position of hiring and firing women and/or helping them in their careers. I also taught college students for 30 years. Although I have had relationships with a number of women, some of which I could have helped, there was never a sexual quid pro quo for two reasons: first of all, my professional and artistic integrity prevents me from advocating anyone who is undeserving. Secondly, I don’t want to have sex with anyone who I am not attracted to in that way and who doesn’t want me for the same reason. How pathetic does Harvey Weinstein sound on that tape where he dispels all his proclamations of innocence? What pleasure could there be in enjoying yourself, when you know that you are physically inside of a woman who hates every ounce of your being at that moment (and probably every moment for the rest of her life)?
But maybe this isn’t about sex. Maybe it’s really about power and feeling contempt for other people. The idea that I could feel better about myself if I know that others were beneath me is a common disease that is practiced by millions worldwide and leads to greed, slavery, and war. It’s older than rope.
So why all this furor over Mr. Weinstein? The Motion Picture Academy threw him out and is deciding whether to take back his Oscar. I’ve got to laugh at the insane hypocrisy at work here. Wasn’t the Academy formed by the original studio heads who were notorious for foisting themselves on starlets with the tacet promise of a role?
When I was a young man, I had actress girlfriends who told me numerous stories of invitations to directors’ and famous actors’ apartments. One actress explained the game to me. She said that if you don’t sleep with them, you’ll never hear from them again. If you do sleep with them, then they got what they wanted, and you’ll never hear from them again. The way to be successful (and she was good at this), was to flirt with them, and make them think that you’ll sleep with them, but postpone the showdown as long as possible. Hopefully, they will be so desperate for sex, that you’ll get a part and then you can turn them down. The only way this really works is to get a career-making role where the industry needs you more than you need them. What a game!
Why should an artist (or any woman in any walk of life—this behavior is endemic to all positions of power) have to endure such demeaning treatment? The answer is that we live in a society where men control just about everything, and powerful men get there by lusting after power. Only the lustiest rise to the top. Once on top, they surround themselves with sycophants and from then on believe their press notices (as we say in show biz).
So, I repeat, why all this furor over Harvey Weinstein? He is one of hundreds of thousands of American men doing this stuff every day, and one of hundreds of millions of men around the globe involved in this sordid behavior. Maybe we can’t police the morals and ethics in other countries, but we could pass some federal laws and enforce them right here and right now. Starting with the Pussy Grabber-in-Chief. That’s right—Donald P.G. Trump. If Harvey could be kicked out of the Motion Picture Academy and have his Oscar taken away, why can’t we take away Trump’s phony election win and kick him to the curb, or better yet, tar and feather him and run him out of town on a rail?
Oh yeah, I just remembered. We can’t do anything bad to Donald because the Republicans in Congress are all afraid that if they don’t go along with what they used to think was bad behavior and dangerous policy, they will lose their jobs. Trump may be a pussy grabber, but these guys are just pussies. How about standing up for America? Or are you all afraid that we’ll find out that you are no better than the Manchurian Candidate in the Oval Office and his swamp-draining carpetbaggers? You’re all just in it for the money. Ooh, and maybe for the sex.
When I think about our Founding Fathers risking their lives standing up to the most powerful nation on earth at that time, it makes me sick to my stomach to see this country sold to Putin and his American oligarch friends. I would say, ”God help us,” but then my aunt would answer, “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s time that we Americans demand a “government of the people, by the people and for the people” before our nation perishes from this earth. Step #1: the 25th Amendment. Do it now, before we are dragged into World War III and Trump declares martial law.
For those of my readers that only want me to talk about music, I apologize, but these are desperate times. Be assured that the next essay will be about music, and it’s going to be a good one.
Yes, the 25th Amendment is the closest we have to a “vote of no confidence.” Unfortunately, getting re-elected and sucking up to the Koch brothers – instead of listening to your own constituents – is the rule of the day.
Conspiracies can explain small groups but not public climates (unless Russian bots are involved). Historically, the public accepts or endorses outrages until, relatively suddenly, the climate changes: School desegregation, the McCarthy era (on question by one lawyer at a televised hearing ends it), same-sex marriage (public and court acceptance far faster than activists thought feasible). We may be at such a moment re abusive behavior, where the example of Trump himself has supplied the focusing lens. (One can only hope that our institutions remain strong enough in the face of gerrymandering and court appointments to reflect the rising public and media revulsion against Trump & the Republican party that spawned him as a hideous mutant.)
Well said, Dave. And to my mind, the answer to the question of “why Weinstein and why NOW?” is: Wall Street. I always wonder “who stands to benefit?” And I wouldn’t be surprised if this entire media sh*t show wasn’t timed and engineered to provide golden parachutes for any number of stockholders at the Weinstein company; will Harv and Bob both be crying all the way to the bank when this is over? Their glory years have passed and this could be their time to “ca$h out” while they still can.
Dresstimonials: Journeys From Rags To Richness, a book of redemption and celebration. Jarreau’s revealing memoir draws attention to the deeply rooted abuse and travesty of all kinds that branches out into the lives of an untold number of African American women. These testimonials explore unbearable and malignant secrets, forbidden questions and uncompromising truths. Dresstimonials: Journeys From Rags To Richness is an open call of black women to protect their inalienable rights for generations to come.
Thanks for your response, David. The mention of “tens of millions of women” electing Trump - vis a vis our discussion of the predatory and sexual abuse of women by Trump, people like Trump, and other men who are nothing at all like Trump - feels like it puts the blame and burden on women, which is a massive part of the problem. I grew up hearing stories about a young woman who lived in my town, who was sexually abused, raped, and had a child by seventeen; she disappeared shortly thereafter, and “moved away.” The party line was “Well, if she hadn’t dressed like a slut, it wouldn’t have happened.” In truth, she dressed no more like a slut then my bubbe did. But it was impossible for anyone to accept that she was targeted, early on, as easy prey, and more palatable to make her bear the burden of her attack. According to the Edison National Election poll, 54% of American women voted for Clinton. 42% voted for Trump. 52% of American men between the ages of 45-64 voted for Trump; 52% of American men 65 and older voted for Trump. So we know exactly who voted for him. But whether a woman voted for Clinton or Trump is neither here nor there: the latter deserves just as much to be heard - and respected - as the former. Thanks, D.