Harvey Weinstein Got 23 Years for Only Some of His Sins
It Only Took Far Too Many Testimonies
Aside from the testimonies given in court, what brought Weinstein to court was the testimony of an entire movement of women banded together.
The way the system works is that a woman complaining of sexual assault alone would be shut down, harassed, or treated like a gold-digger if in civil court for damages.
Together, there’s some sense of credibility or at least a pattern that begins to show.
However, this didn’t stop people from thinking perhaps these dozens of women all conspired to topple a powerful man.
People seem to have a harder time believing dozens of women complaining about the abuses of men in positions of power than the idea that men in power can abuse that power.
I find that poetically depressing given how often we hear of men abusing positions of power and how little they are found guilty.
Sexual misconduct is difficult to prove, and the burden of proof seems to rest entirely on the survivor, who might be already exhausted, traumatized, or maybe coping in ways society deems unbecoming of the “perfect victim.”
It’s rare that women would conspire to go through such an ordeal—just to take down one guy.
The issue is that we live in a society where male success is more important than women’s lives.
We see this in movies where women are merely supporting characters in the male protagonist’s narrative.
We even see this in our own families where men are the head of the house and women work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure his life runs smoothly.
His success is tied to all of ours and the sacrifices to be made are claimed by women. I’ve seen it. Many people I know from religious backgrounds have seen it.
Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on patriarchy, though. Social norms almost everywhere reinforce this.
In most crimes, the accused must be proven guilty—but for sexual assault I often see the narrative shift to the complainant having to prove themselves innocent.
This can happen in court where the survivor is grilled about their character and clothing choices, asked why they didn’t keep their knees together or why they were drunk or wearing cute underwear.
This also happens in the court of public opinion, in comment sections, where people say “what did she expect,” or “sounds like she’s trying to get his money,” or “sounds like she regretted the sex.”
Where sex is seen as grapes in the mouth of the raven and men hunt for it like the fox—it makes sense to blame the raven for releasing the grapes no matter what the fox did to make that happen.
But sex is not a hunt or a prize, and until we stop this predatory narrative about sex, we will see much more victim blaming to come.
Maybe if it were socially acceptable to see sex as a matter of men pleasing women and not extracting a “win” from them, we wouldn’t even be normalizing the idea of regrettable sex.
Sure, Weinstein was found guilty, but it only took dozens of women to get him in that courtroom in the first place. So the testimony of multiple women equals one man.
The rest of us know that had we taken our own abusers to court, we wouldn’t see such a result.
The rest of us know that if something were to happen to us in the future, the burden of proof on us and the reputational risk is so high it might not even be worth the fight.
Most rapists—if they even make it to court and face conviction—don’t get 23 years.
How many women had to get violated and come forward, putting their livelihoods on the line, for those 23 years?
Until a better way of prosecuting sexual assault is presented, survivors will live without vengeance, and predators will know they’re unlikely to be caught or put away for long in the off chance they are prosecuted.
If it’s this hard to prosecute, what’s dissuading future rapists?
How many more women need to be sacrificed in the fire of male entitlement for us to do something to protect them?