28 February 2020

Weinstein found guilty

When I heard that Weinstein was found guilty I sighed a sigh of relief. No matter how powerful and rich you are, you can get convicted of sexual misconduct! I also knew the last word hadn't been said; his lawyers will appeal. But for now he is in jail and unable to keep committing crimes.

I said I was relieved. And I was! But should I be? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Maybe he was innocent all along! And if he was, he should have been found not guilty and set free. So why was I getting ahead of things? 

One should not solicit sex from people over whom one wields power. If you are a movie mogul who can make and break careers, you should keep your hands (and other body parts) off young aspiring actresses. Weinstein never denied the sexual acts; he only denied it had been assault. But are you really free to consent to sexual acts with someone who decides if you will ever work in the industry again? Someone who decides if you can pay your rent? Me thinks not. So he had already admitted to things that to the best of my knowledge are criminal.  

Furthermore, there had been throngs of women who had stepped forward to accuse him. And entire books have been written about how he used his power and money to try to blacken their names! Accusing anyone is an excruciating thing to do. If you've just been humiliated to the core by some sleazy bloke, the last thing you probably want to do is talk about it. The last thing you want to do is give people the opportunity to remind you of it. The last thing you want is a hostile lawyer in court (if it gets that far) trying to convince everyone that you wanted that. That you are that kind of person. That you are a liar and a golddigger and someone who has had casual sex before so must be up for sex with practically anyone. So if there are literally tens and tens of women who are willing to suffer just that, that's not a good sign.

Yes I know that victims had kept in touch with Weinstein, and sent nice messages, and all that. But it is easy to say from your armchair (I've been guilty of this myself) that that proves nothing was amiss. What woman has not smiled in a threatening and humiliating situation in the hope of de-escalating things? Or just out of reflex, as that is what society teaches you? And how many women have ever wondered if they should speak out and relive the trauma and never work in their sector again, or just pretend it never happened? And then just kept the powerful man placated, if necessary with nice messages? Especially if they either didn't know so many others were suffering the same thing, or worse, if they knew lots of other people were suffering the same thing but nobody else dared speak out. Do you dare on your own? 

And yes it does happen that people make such things up, but that's rare. What is the probability that over eighty women make something like that up? In spite of the huge personal cost?

It's not a major factor, but still it doesn't help that he was a big chap and that your average Hollywood actress is rather petite. No I'm not saying that rape only happens to those who haven't bothered to become a black belt in karate so were asking for it. But it doesn't help, does it! When I expect trouble from a bloke who has problems with accepting 'no' I always try to guess how talented they would be in just using physical force to get what they want. It really is scarier when a bloke is big and heavy! And yes that is strangers and not people with a say in my career but still. 

So it really looked like he was guilty of criminal behaviour. But then there is the question of whether the legal system would deal with that in an appropriate way! I don't have enormous amounts of faith in how the justice system works when it comes to sexual assault cases. The reasons for that are from all over the globe, to be honest, while only the US legal system is relevant here. But knowing that didn't really help. Fear works that way! In the UK, conviction rates are pretty much negligible as the CPS will only take on the easiest cases. If you have been raped by some complete stranger who jumps from behind a tree and holds you at gunpoint right in  front of a CCTV camera and drops his passport on the scene you have a good chance he'll end up in jail. But in many other cases, you won't even get your day in court. 

And if you get your day in court, you probably need to agree to having your entire sexual history advertised to the world. You have to hand in your phone with all its personal information on it, and can't get therapy. No such restrictions hold for the defendant. And if you get your day in court, you can end up being blamed, because of the clothes you wore. Or because you didn't put up a physical fight (and end up beaten up in addition to being raped). Yes I know this is from all over the globe but as I said, this is about explaining my nervousness, not explaining why explicitly the US legal system is not always working properly when it comes to cases like this. 

And even if your attacker ends up in jail, it may only be for a very short time, because there is so much worry about their well-being, rather than yours. Or they are rich and powerful and get a nice lenient sentence in which they only have to be in jail at night. Yes I know, ten years later, that was rectified, but did it really have to take ten years? And I could go on and on!

Yes I know, there are cases in which the legal powers do what they are supposed to do, and there is proper care for victims. But it seems to be way too rare! So that's why altogether, I held my breath. Every time someone gets away with sexual misbehaviour, it is advertised to the world that you can just do those things and not much will happen, especially if you are rich, white and powerful. And sexual assault could happen to any of us! And being assaulted is bad enough, even if the legal system has your back. And if it doesn't, that's really, really bad. So I was really glad that the message this time is that maybe you get away with it for decades, and you may get away with some of it forever (a lot of it was beyond the statute of limitations), but you don't get away with all of it forever. And that's something. And that's why I was relieved. 

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