Anyone who knows me will know how repugnant I find this man’s behaviour and, by extension, all such behaviour. It is hateful. Intolerable. However, outside the bright spotlight focussed on Weinstein, there is something uncomfortable we shouldn’t ignore. Something in the mirror. Ourselves. Men and Women. Parents. Colleagues. Employers.
Some men and women in powerful positions over others will always try to abuse their power. Sex is a basic human drive, for men and women, and we are never going to change that. Predatory behaviour in business practice is encouraged, is celebrated. Put all that together and you have the context for a Weinstein to operate. However since the 1950s, when the advertising gurus on Madison Avenue (USA) declared that “Sex sells”, we have become progressively inured to the sexualisation of everything from selling M&Ms and hair care products, to the cult of celebrity, in “Strictly Come Dancing” or even animation programmes on childrens’ TV. It is acceptably normal for popular music to be performed, and promoted, by overtly sexual behaviour. In fact, when someone just stands there and sings, or plays, it is remarkable.
For as long as WE think it is is OK for men to tolerate (even encourage) sexual inuendo as harmless banter, for as long as it is OK for women to be encouraged to wear sexually revealing / provocative clothes, the bar for the likes of Weinstein is raised. Business executives who want female employees to wear open blouses, and high heeled shoes, to work are complicit. The producers of childrens’ films as diverse as ‘Beauty and The Beast or ‘The Incredibles’, that idealise female image as big breasted, large hipped and wasp waisted, are complicit. The moderators of the BBC Breakfast facebook page, that allow posts that refer to the tightness of a presenter’s dress, are complicit. We are all, to some degree, complicit.
I am absolutely not saying that women who dress ‘provocatively’, or just take a pride in their appearance, are “asking for it”. Nor am I blind to the fact that women are just as capable of coercion and predatory behaviour, or that some ‘transactions’ of this kind are consensual. What I am saying is that we all need to look in the mirror when we point an accusatory finger at high level perpetrators: while we put up with the sexual objectivisation of women (yes, and men) in our daily lives it is easier for the likes of Harvey Weinstein to exploit their power.