The Weinstein effect: there's no going back
Harassment and sexual abuse have been the hottest topics in the media in recent weeks. After the release of the open secret in Hollywood, a domino effect has shaken the foundations of American society. Is this a revolt of female empowerment?
October of 2017 will be remembered as the month in which we all met the monster that sat at the table.
It all started when the New York Times and the New Yorker published the historical accounts (dating back more than a decade) of several women who were victims of the sexual misconduct of film producer Harvey Weinstein in October of this year.
Both media published the statements of at least twelve women who claimed to have been assaulted, hinted at and even sexually abused by the producer.
Weinstein, 65, has produced masterpieces such as Pulp Fiction (1994), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Gangs of New York (2002) in the hands of his brother and his family company, The Weinstein Company, from which he ended up being fired. Later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and other professional associations proceeded to do the same.
The courage of these dozen women inspired thirty more opening the Pandora's box and putting on the table a twisted normalized reality, which has condemned so many people to silent suffering.
However, none of this is new.
Since the early 1990s, American society has had its share of sex scandals. In 1991, Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas, who still maintains his seat on the Supreme Court today. During the decade of 2010, several women claimed to have been drugged and abused by comedian Bill Cosby and more recently, the press brought to light the inappropriate behavior of Fox's political commentator Bill O'Reilly, who was also expelled of the company that gave him fame and reputation.
But perhaps the epicenter of all this has been the publication of a video in which the then-presidential candidate, Donald Trump, was heard making lascivious comments against women in a detestable camaraderie with Billy Bush.
The phenomenon was growing and many women found the courage to make 2017 the moment in which "sexual harassment became a causal offense of dismissal," according to USA Today.
The accusations against Weinstein achieved what many believed was impossible: the seriousness of sexual harassment and assault was recognized at a national level. Both men and women spoke publicly of their stories of sexual misconduct in workplaces, and the immediate consequence was the rapid expulsion of many people in positions of power.
After the actress Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss? Melrose Place, Charmed) shared through social networks the tag #MeToo and encouraged people to share their experiences, both Twitter and Facebook reported More than 2 million responses to the comment.
The silence broke and there was no way to stop it.
Andy Signore (Screen Junkies), Roy Price (Amazon Studios), Tyler Grasham (Agency for the Performing Arts) and Chris Savino (The Loud House) were the first names to come to light.
Some, like actor Kevin Spacey (House of Cards, American Beauty), failed to respond adequately to the accusations and fell into a string of media errors that buried their careers. The same happened with the comedian Louis C.K., the filmmaker Brett Ratner and James Toback.
After what happened with O'Reilly, in the journalism industry many others were expelled. Such was the case of Vox Media's editorial director, Lockhart Steele, Mark Halperin of NBC News, NPR news chief Michael Oreskes and The New Republic director Leon Wieseltier.
At the epicenter of US policy, misconduct is not a myth. Suffice it to recall the Lewinsky scandal in 1998 - when President Bill Clinton, then 49, had an extramarital affair with a 22-year-old White House employee, Monica Lewinsky - the case of Henry Hyde, Bob Livingston or even Bob Barr's.
But when it comes to abuse or harassment, this is the most convulsive episode in American politics.
Since the Weinstein Effect was detonated, six women have accused Florida State Senator Jack Latvala of harassment; several women have accused Minnesota State Senator Dan Schoen, and one activist accused Illinois Senator Ira Silverstein of harassment, which cost him a seat in the Senate Democratic caucus.
More recently - and with more media coverage - announcer Leeann Tweeden exposed Minnesota Senator Al Franken for his abusive and inappropriate behavior in 2006. After the case was made public, another woman accused Franken of "groping" while taking a picture with him at the Minnesota State Fair, in 2010.
Also, eight women have accused the Alabama Senate candidate of the Republican Party, Roy Moore, of inappropriate sexual behavior and abuse, including having dated underage girls while he was thirty years old.
While several members of the Republican Party have insisted that Moore should withdraw from the race, the White House has decided to back the candidate, only because of the fear that his opponent in the race - the liberal Doug Jones – could damage the Republican power in the Senate.
According to Fatima Goss Graves, president and general manager of the National Women's Law Center, "class, race and stature influence whether a woman is believed or not. The nature of who is telling the story is what matters here. "
There are many cases - especially Weinstein’s - in which money and private agreements have managed to silence many victims of harassment. The trauma, the professional failure, and the other consequences were never taken to a lawyer's office.
"If you have the impulse to talk about something you've been keeping for 20 years, and you see others talking about it, then you do it," said trauma therapist Kathleen Carter Martinez, author of "Permission Granted: The Journey from Trauma to Healing from Rape, Sexual Assault and Emotional Abuse, to CNN. "Years ago we did not have that, and it was much harder to talk about it," she added.
In the same way, social networks and support organizations have promoted an awareness campaign, in which the distinction between "harassment", "abuse" and "rape" has made many realize that they have been victims of it one way or another and that inappropriate sexual behaviors are not simply "occupational hazards".
Today, feminist collectives, women in "predominantly male" industries, politicians and public figures, have decided that the time to act "is now", and that the normalization of sexual harassment and connotations at work has to be stopped.
How can you help? It's simple: raise your voice.