Allie Long

The Weinstein Post-Mortem: Boys Will Be Boys, but Seldom Men

As the narratives spool from Weinstein’s actions, we should just focus on one: the words of the man himself. His trite barbs illustrate how easily history will repeat.

 

As we peek further behind his “all-star producer” curtain to see the true magnitude of his sexual predation, Harvey Weinstein’s choice of words to the press/the paps as he left his daughter’s L.A. home to head for the airport reveals a man painting himself as a victim of his own crimes.

His self-defense is played in the same key as this Daily Beast op-ed columnist’s temper tantrum over his belief that acknowledging the true nature of Christopher Columbus is yet another nail in the coffin of “American identity.” Per the piece, “Most flesh and blood humans have made mistakes. Case in point: Martin Luther King, Jr. Serial philanderer. Should that negate his amazing contributions? I don’t think so.” (I urge you to read it. It truly boggles the mind.)

Nonetheless, people still practice the mental gymnastics necessary to equate rape and murder to insulting a friend and being short with a customer service worker. “We’re all just victims of human fallibility,” they whine. “Curse our animal nature,” they bitch and moan. I mean, boys will be boys, right?

They blame the male id, which is just what my “final straw and reason I cancelled my Times subscription” Bret Stephens did in his op-ed, lazily veiled by the title “Weinstein and Our Culture of Enablers.” Mr. Weinstein, our real-life “storybook villain,” is simply a product of an industry of yes men.

People still practice the mental gymnastics necessary to equate rape and murder to insulting a friend. “We’re all just victims of human fallibility,” they whine. “Curse our animal nature,” they bitch and moan. I mean, boys will be boys, right?

“The important truth is that he was just another libidinous cad in a libertine culture that long ago dispensed with most notions of personal restraint and gentlemanly behavior. ‘I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,’ Weinstein wrote in his mea culpa to The Times last week. ‘That was the culture then.’” So, isn’t Weinstein’s quotation and Stephen’s idyllic notions of past gentlemanliness at direct odds with each other? I don’t know; I wasn’t hired by a desperate news behemoth to present my warped worldview as an informed opinion in its last-ditch effort to be seen as fair-and-balanced.

He goes on, “Hyenas cannot help their own nature. But the work of a morally sentient society is to prevent them from taking over the savanna… It may be that Weinstein’s epic downfall will scare straight other sexual miscreants, or at least those who tolerate their behavior and are liable for its consequences. Don’t count on it. Our belated indictment of him now does too much to acquit his many accomplices, and too little to transform a culture that never gave him a reason to change.”

I mean, what did I just read?

So, we should just absolve men who use their power to sexually harass and rape women and instead blame society, which, conveniently, includes those men’s victims? The political right (Stephens, though he now takes a more “intellectual” stance as a member of the uppity Times, and his ilk) loves to wax poetic about “personal responsibility” unless, of course, that involves men taking responsibility for their treatment of women and *gasp* controlling their sex drive. A sexual predator who ran under the guise of Republicanism is president, but some members of the right still see fit to bemoan the left for double-standards in their condemnation of sexual predators. (That’s not to say Democrats and left-leaning Hollywood couldn’t have been more vocal about the issue, but that just gives further credence to the point I’m about to make.)


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Anyway, victim-blamers, no matter how much they try to hide it, can’t have their cake and eat it too. They can’t expect praise when their indictment of sexual predators has precious little to do with said predators’ actions and worthless much to do with a longing for a pseudo-past in which Christian men used their institutional dominance to unconditionally bestow financial stability and loving care on the women who baked them casseroles and incubated their spawn. Ah, all was right with the world.

That attitude not-so-discreetly places the blame right back on women and our “unnatural” desire to be the autonomous humans that we are.

People blame women for not coming forward sooner, but look at Bill Cosby: myriad women accused him and he still wasn’t convicted. They were met with skepticism by the public. Though it’s a bit more complicated since Cosby is a man of color, the point still stands that institutional power – be it from wealth, whiteness, manhood, or any combination of those – leaves men above reproach even if they are superficially condemned by the public, hence the radio silence from the political left. Society is cautious in believing women’s experiences of sexual harassment and rape but liberal in its allowance for men to let their “innate” lack of restraint remain unconstrained.

So, as wealthy men are wont to do, Weinstein will receive “therapy” for that which men of color and poor men receive maximum sentences. We will tout his accomplishments and lament the loss of our ability to joke about his disgusting reputation.

It’s time to end the collective shoulder-shrug and our sighs of “society.” Then again, it has been that time since its dawning, and we have yet to see much change.

 

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