Fall of the Hollywood Predator
On January 24th, Harvey Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former actress Jessica Mann. Hence the renowned producer was sentenced to 23 years in the landmark #MeToo case.
With more than 100 women complaining against Weinstein, the #MeToo movement was fueled up against sexual abuse and harassment. Influential Hollywood producers leave a legacy through their movies, however, Weinstein’s legacy will be that of misconduct.
Weinstein’s actions propelled the #MeToo movement, started in 2006, to the mainstream more than two years ago, and hence the trial was not just an arbitrariness of his guilt, but also a victory for the movement. The verdict challenged the notion that those high in the hierarchy have the power to control the truth. However, it is just a partial victory. It’s impossible to put a number on what the survivors go through. The disgraced producer, though got a 23 year prison time, was cleared of the most serious charges against him. The court may have proved him guilty, but the producer stood innocent in his eyes when he denied all allegations against him and reasoned it behind a ‘confused’ state of mind, portraying no signs of remorse.
Fashioning poetic relevance, the movement worldwide has given bittersweet results. The movement is credited for creating a platform for women to come forward, changing the narrative from questioning the victims and asking for character certificates to believing all victims, propelling the argument that women have only justice to gain by telling their stories, as observed by the Brett Kavanaugh hearing in the US. But this immunity is selective. Women of colour and in third world countries still continue to fight alone. When the MeToo movement reached China, circling the education space and bringing out horrible abuse of power by college professors, the protestors were violently jailed. Even the hashtag MeToo was banned from Chinese firewall, which brought creative ways for the Twitterverse to show solidarity.
In India, Unnao rape victim was murdered after her father and brother faced the same fate before her rapist, BJP’s Kuldeep Sengar was imprisoned for life.
The cultural shift in how we talk about sexual assault is still the biggest victory of the movement. Accountability from the structures which allow sexual misconduct to happen, the lack of female representation in boards who sweep workplace harassment under the rug and a legitimacy debate around “locker room talk” have brought about fundamental changes in the source of oppression, ripples of which will be felt for years to come. The movement has come full circle by actively working to represent women suppressed by class and race divide who lack the agency to stop, report or speak out against abuse, the underlying philosophy being that the time of sexual misconduct anywhere is up.
It is a reminder of how far we have come fighting the battle for equality and safety and how far we still have to go. It is a step forward, a huge step indeed, but we still have miles to go.