Who's To Blame For Harvey? - The M Word

Who’s To Blame For Harvey?

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I found many of the Weinstein reports to be troubling. Why didn’t someone speak up sooner?

Couldn’t Gwyneth/ Angelina/ Ashley/ Rose/ any of the other women have saved others from the same fate had they done something years ago? Do the people who believe this not understand how exploitation works?

It’s what keeps frightened immigrants living in squalor for years, why children say silent even though something doesn’t feel right, why people brought their linens to Magdalene laundries, and scurried home quickly.

Just because it’s Hollywood, and many of the women involved are privileged, beautiful (and now wealthy), doesn’t make the abuse any less insidious.

It’s about the misuse of power and someone else holding all the cards. So many of those young women leaving Weinstein’s room, whether they acquiesced to his requests or not, must have felt completely helpless. This man had the power to make or break them – he knew it and so did they. And yes, there is the question of his peers, cronies and employees; but the same rules apply. Will you be the one to speak up, lose your job and possibly never work in the industry again?

The many women adding their voices to the story now are not jumping on a bandwagon. They’re speaking up in support of many who probably never will, and hoping to help turn the tide on such a long-established, discriminatory system. One they didn’t think they had any control over not so long ago. The cliché of the casting couch has long been joked about in Hollywood, but the mindset exists in many other industries and systems. My first job collecting glasses in a bar involved having my arse pinched, shoulders squeezed (with hands creeping way too far forward) or being rubbed up against by men old enough to be my grandfather. I didn’t say anything. I just thought it was the price you paid for taking the only job available to you at 15, and tried to make sure I always had a tray between me and the creepiest men (never underestimate the power of a good tray). I think young girls today would be much more forthright, but that doesn’t mean I let them, or myself, down. Sometimes it is only with the benefit of hindsight, maturity, confidence and circumstance that we can see things for what they really were. It’s unhelpful to apply 21st century morals to the past; all we can do is learn from it.

Plenty of people stayed quiet, but only one person is to blame – Weinstein. There is no universe in which he can claim he didn’t know he was in the wrong.

At the very least, it is a relief to see him admit his misconduct, rather than make it worse for everyone by denying it or – worse still – blaming his victims.

Hopefully we are seeing a sea change, and the time will come when no woman will be afraid of speaking up and reporting inappropriate behaviour, whether collecting dirty pint glasses or hoping for an Oscar.

Maia Dunphy is a writer and broadcaster who stepped in front of the camera after over a decade behind it. She has written and hosted twelve female-centric documentaries for RTE and has written for many well-known publications including the Evening Herald, The Dubliner, The Irish Times and Image Magazine among others.