Harvey Weinstein does not fucking get it. Before jury selection even started for his sexual assault trial in New York, his publicist Juda Engelmayer sent New York magazine’s Irin Carmon a 57-page oppo research file on his accusers. Because Harvey Weinstein’s publicist thought that smearing his accusers would help Harvey’s case.
Then there was Harvey Weinstein’s interview with the New York Post where he had the journalist come to his hospital room, and he whined, “I feel like the forgotten man.” And that “I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago. I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it!” Because Harvey Weinstein still thinks that making progressive-minded movies covers for the other stuff.
And then there’s his female lawyer, who told Vanity Fair that “regret sex is not rape.” Because his lawyer thinks she can sell the idea that all these women are just embarrassed. And then there’s Harvey’s scammy walker that he’s using as a disgusting sympathy prop to make him look like a decrepit old man, because Harvey thinks it will help his case.
Harvey Weinstein is sorry, so sorry, he got caught. Harvey Weinstein is not going to beg his 80-plus accusers for forgiveness. No, Harvey Weinstein has decided that he’s gonna try and beat the rap. And look, it’s worked for numerous powerful men in the past.
Our president had at least 23 sexual assault allegations against him. Weinstein is making a political calculation that like impeachment, sexual assault (and rape) are political battles fought in the court of public opinion. The good news for these women is that unlike Trump, who has the MAGA army on his side, Harvey Weinstein doesn’t have a cult to defend him.
But sadly that doesn’t mean he won’t get away with it.
Powerful, affluent men have been getting away with rape and sexual assault and sexual harassment since the dawn of time. In fact, it’s actually more unusual for men like Harvey Weinstein to be held responsible than it is for them to not.
Think of Jeffrey Epstein, who ran an enormous sex trafficking ring and wasn’t even punished until the Miami Herald’s Julie Brown got his accusers to talk. Even then Epstein never faced his victims and ultimately got away with snuffing himself in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Yes, Weinstein’s allegations could be a turning point, or they could be a small exception to the rule that “ultimately rich guys get away with it.” Weinstein is now out of business. But will he actually be held accountable for his crimes? Will justice be served? No one knows.
And “justice” comes too late for many of his victims. Their lives aren’t going to be un-ruined. No one will go back in time and hire all the women against whom Weinstein launched whisper campaigns. From Rosanna Arquette to Ashley Judd to Annabella Sciorra—these women are not getting the many acting opportunities they missed out on back. And that’s true for a lot of these #MeToo victims. Think of the women kneecapped by Les Moonves or Mark Halperin—those women will never have a second shot at the careers that were stolen from them.
So yes, Harvey’s trial is a turning point—either women will get justice or they won’t. If Harvey does get nailed to the wall the way he deserves to be, it will be a sign that justice is applied evenly to everyone. If Harvey gets away with it, that will be proof that wealthy powerful people live by different laws. That powerful people can commit crime without consequences.
The world wants to see powerful men held accountable for their crimes. Hell, we all want that. There is a chance here to bend the arc of the universe towards justice, there is an opportunity here to say that violence towards women isn’t okay, that women's lives matter as much as men’s.
I’ve met Harvey. I had a close family member who worked for him. We thought he was a mean, abusive boss, but we never thought he was a dangerous sexual predator. Now that more than 80 women have come forward, will the courts do what’s right? Will justice finally be administered to powerful men? Or will we see once again that “When you’re a star they let you do it?”