The Weinstein Effect: Avalanche of Allegations Usher in a New Era
By Dr. Ruth Nemzoff and Ellen Offner
Wicked Local Brookline
November 29, 2017
Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s repugnant behavior has revealed for Americans that sexual predators lurk in schools and workplaces threatening young women and boys. Florence Graves was ahead of her times in 1995 when she exposed Bob Packwood’s peccadilloes, and she suffered retribution for her courage. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), a close ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s, has said that in today’s climate Bill Clinton would have had to resign the presidency. What about President Trump?
The excesses of the Catholic clergy, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump exposed this chilling behavior, but Weinstein’s behavior has freed many victims to speak out and awaken the public to this exploitation: in Hollywood, independent schools, colleges, places of worship, Congress and corporations. Wherever powerful authority figures can reward or punish those less powerful, predatory behavior seems all too common.
Times have changed since 1991, when the all-male Senate Judiciary confirmed Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court despite the chilling testimony of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill that he had sexually harassed her while he was her boss. Nonetheless, Ronan Farrow, who reported on the “Weinstein Effect” in the New Yorker and on CNN, claims that NBC refused to air his report. This is not surprising since Fox News paid off women who complained about unwanted overtures from Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. Hence kudos to The New Yorker for publishing outstanding articles such as “Anita Hill on Weinstein,” and “Trump, and a Watershed Moment for Sexual-Harassment Accusations,” by Jane Mayer, and Jia Tolentino’s “How Men Like Harvey Weinstein Implicate Their Victims in Their Acts.”
It is important to note that whereas the headline-grabbing stories are mainly about men harassing young women, male harassment of young boys has also been surfacing. Now the actor Anthony Rapp has stated that actor Kevin Spacey “got on top of him” when he was only 14 years old, Heather Unruh, a former Boston TV anchor, has revealed that Spacey sexually assaulted her son, then 16 years old, at a bar in Nantucket. The family has retained the lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who represented victims of Catholic clergy abuse and was featured in the film “Spotlight” about the courageous reporting in the Boston Globe. Spacey’s “excuse” that he has decided to live as a gay man is a non sequitur.