OPINION – The past week has been a real eye-opener.
Unless you remained buried in the back of your cave or hid beneath a rock, you saw the distressing number of women who took to social media to simply type in #MeToo.
It began when actress Alyssa Milano posted this on her Twitter account: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
Immediately, the post went viral to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and every nook and cranny of social media.
Within 24 hours, 4.7 million people responded, placing 12 million posts to the conversation. It sparked a rather tepid response from men, who were asked, at the very least, to acknowledge the problem and stand for women by typing #IWill.
It was, of course, in response to the repugnant revelations surrounding sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, who co-founded Miramax, a film production company that created such cinema heavyweights as “Pulp Fiction,” “The Crying Game,” “Clerks,” “Sex, Lies and Videotape” and a host of others.
Weinstein is the latest scumbag to be taken down for his criminal attacks on women for forcing scores of actresses to submit to sexual assaults.
The rumblings shook throughout not only the industry, but through political circles as well because of Weinstein’s healthy donations to liberal candidates and causes.
Those of us on the liberal side have no feel for this guy or his money.
His actions betray the heart of progressive idealism rooted in equality and freedom.
We don’t want his money.
We don’t want his influence.
And, we certainly don’t want criminals like this around our wives, our daughters, our mothers, sisters, aunts, friends.
Just because he supports liberal causes does not mean he gets a pass. He should be in jail and anybody who took money from this guy should return it, regardless of how much he gave, who he gave it to or which programs or ideologies he supported.
Weinstein is a reflection of the bad old days of Hollywood, where the casting couch determined which women got the best movie roles, which women were turbo-boosted to superstardom, which women got the best contracts in a highly corrupt business that has, at this point, forsaken creativity and innovation for a parade of remakes or dramatizations of comic book storylines.
But, the purpose of Milano’s post ran deeper than payback for Weinstein.
Its purpose was to reveal that it is not only high-profile movie moguls who participate in this abuse and harassment.
We’ve seen it at our highest levels of politics – from Bill Clinton to innumerable members of Congress.
We’ve seen it in sports, particularly the Olympics where members of the U.S. gymnastics team were abused by a team official.
We’ve seen this in everyday life, from the mom-and-pop stores to the mega-corporations that are sucking the life out of our economy.
And, it’s time for it all to end.
Not tomorrow, not a week from today, but right now, this second.
I was saddened by the number of women friends who quietly posted #MeToo on their social media accounts over the last week.
Some told horrible stories.
Most simply acknowledged that they had been sexually harassed or assaulted.
Some wrestled a few days before going public, which leads me to believe that there are many others who are still too shaken, shy or scarred to come forward.
And, I cannot blame them.
Look, we live in a society where it is permissible for this “boys will be boys” behavior.
When Clinton had a dalliance with a young intern, it was a matter of “oh, well, boys will be boys.” He was a womanizer who was not held to a greater standard because of his position.
When some of us who criticized him for his actions we were simply called prudes and told, “well, it was only sex.”
Except it wasn’t.
There were some women who claim he harassed them, badgered them There was the young star-struck intern who succumbed to the most powerful man in the world.
When Donald Trump was seen on videotape bragging about how the rich can sexually exploit women without fear of retribution, it was the television personality who was interviewing him who was punished. Trump, on the other hand, was rewarded with the presidency. It was, after all, only “locker room talk” to some.
This is, sadly, the world our mothers, wives, daughters and the other women in our lives go out and deal with each day.
There is little, if any, accountability for the men because they know the mountainous hurdles a woman must go through to prove she was sexually assaulted or harassed.
They know the embarrassment, the scrutiny, the shame a woman endures if she steps forward with a complaint, which is why so many remain silent.
What these guys don’t know about are the sleepless nights, the recurring trauma of reliving those encounters, the psychological toll their contemptuous actions have on the women they violate.
It begins with us, men.
How many times have you heard the conversation in the workplace that if a woman gets a promotion or salary hike it’s because she is sleeping with the boss?
How many times have you laughed and let it pass instead of standing up for the woman in question?
How many times have you heard, as is so common today, women referred to as “bitches” and “hos” and let it slide? It’s not funny, not cool, not hip. It is disgusting, dishonorable and disrespectful.
Would you let it slide if somebody referred to your wife, your daughter, your mother in those terms?
How many times have you seen some misogynist clod of human waste talk down to a woman who was simply trying to make a point, whether it was about business, politics, sports or human nature?
How many times have you heard a man bragging about his latest sexual conquest called a “player” and given a big “atta boy” for his latest score while the woman he is talking about is regarded as a “tramp?”
How many times have you seen some big, fat slob with a beer gut hanging over his belt berating his wife because her boobs aren’t big enough or she has a few age lines creeping into her smile?
You’re guilty dude, and you should be ashamed.
How many times have you looked at the disparity in pay between men and women and said, “well, you know…women just can’t do quite the same job as men” or “well, who knows when she’s going to go off and get married and have a kid, so why pay her the same?”
How many times have you said a woman “has it coming” when harassed because she happens to be attractive? Yet, that same guy will want his partner all dolled up whenever they go out in public. Somewhat hypocritical, don’t you think?
How many times have you seen women who have been verbally, psychologically, physically or sexually abused?
A lot more times than you realize because, you see, in this man’s world, most women are reluctant to share these experiences because they either won’t be believed, they will be told it is their fault and they will be ridiculed, judged, reviled. I don’t care what the cops or prosecuting attorneys tell you, this happens.
According to a recent National Crime Victimization Survey, only 35 percent of all rapes and sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement.
That reluctance will continue as long as the powers-that-be, almost uniformly men, continue to victimize the victims.
None of these women “asked for it”; none of these women “deserved what she got”; none of these women are to blame for some predator taking advantage of them; and not one woman I have ever met would knowingly place herself in a situation that would lead to a sexual assault or rape.
Harvey Weinstein should spend a lot of time in jail, probably the remainder of his life, for his attacks on women.
Simply going into rehab will not be enough. His crimes are severe and egregious. He repeatedly preyed on vulnerable women. This we know. He admitted as much. He has paid settlements to a number of women over the years. More than 40 have come forward recently, launching law enforcement investigations from LAPD to Scotland Yard to piece together charges. Hopefully, they will be successful and they will put this guy away. Unfortunately, he has held so much power and influence for so many years we will probably never know exactly how many women he raped and assaulted.
The problem, however, is what happens next?
Weinstein is done, his career over.
But how many other sexual predators remain in Hollywood, in our boardrooms, in our workplace, on the street?
While women should certainly be supported and encouraged to come forward, the real responsibility is with the men who should never put them in that place to begin with.
So, as far as standing with women against such abuses?
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.