Following a damning piece published last week by The New York Times, Harvey Weinstein, one of the world’s most revered film producers and, up until a few days ago, co-owner of the Weinstein Company, was exposed for a long list of sexual crimes stretching over multiple decades.
The Times reported accounts from high profile female actors Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd who claimed to have been sexually abused by Weinstein over their careers.
Judd revealed an incident where she was asked to go up to Weinstein’s room to meet with him about an acting part. When she entered, Weinstein was wearing a bathrobe and requested that Judd either massage him or watch him shower.
Other women who had encountered Weinstein or worked with the mogul recounted incidents where the producer had threatened them, made inappropriate and graphic sexual advances and then shamed and paid them into silence.
In a released letter written to company executives, Lauren O’Connor an employee of the Weinstein Company wrote, “there is a toxic environment for women at this company.”
“I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.”
In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Weinstein said: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
He added that he was seeing a therapist and would take a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head on.”
Later however, he all-but retracted those initial comments, threatening to sue the paper instead.
His now ex lawyer, Lisa Bloom gave a statement to say that while Weinstein disputed many of the allegations against him, she had also made him aware of how some of his words and behaviours could be “perceived” as inappropriate. She then attempted to soften his conduct, calling him “an old dinosaur learning new ways.”
When questioned over the number of settlements he’s allegedly been forced to make, (eight in total) Weinstein was again unwilling to take accountability. Instead claiming that when it came to addressing employee concerns to workplace issues, it was his motto “to keep the peace.”
Thankfully however, Hollywood’s most famous women weren’t prepared to “keep the peace” for him.
Over the last 24 hours, Meryl Streep who once referred to the producer as “God”, as well as Judy Dench, who has long held Weinstein in the highest esteem, have voiced their dismay and disgust at the revelations.
Streep said in a statement that although she had been unaware of Weinstein’s “disgraceful” conduct, it was inexcusable. She then went on to note that “the abuse of power” was a familiar narrative.
“Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media, will ultimately change the game.
“The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes” she said.
But while the high profile film mogul is currently under fire, his career seemingly in ruins, the depressing likelihood is he’ll work out a way to crawl up from the gutter. Money, power, and friends in high places are formidable resources, and Harvey Weinstein has all of this at his disposal.
While the women who were his victims, have little of the same.