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Harvey Weinstein: Just Another Hideous Example of Abuse of Power in Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein
REX/Shutterstock

What sickens me most about the sexual abuse allegations leveled against Harvey Weinstein is that they represent yet another glaring example of abuse of power. The sense of entitlement and audacity possessed by powerful men in business and politics like Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump is deplorable.

Aside from their political leanings, I see striking similarities between Weinstein and our president — both are crude, boorish men who feel superior and unassailable. Nothing underscores that more than last year’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump was caught on camera bragging to Billy Bush about kissing and groping women as he pleased: “When you’re a star … you can do anything.”

Clearly, Weinstein also believed he was invincible.

These perpetrators, and countless more like them, act as if it’s their God-given right to prey on women who they assume are too afraid to speak out for various reasons, including fear of career repercussions.

For decades, Weinstein, who was fired this past weekend by his company’s board, got away with shameful, oafish behavior for several reasons: His victims were too scared to come forward; journalists (myself included) tried desperately to get the story we all knew was there, but failed; the companies that he worked for — Disney and the Weinstein Co. — turned a blind eye (as Fox News did with Ailes and O’Reilly); and his many famous friends and collaborators in Hollywood protected him by remaining silent.

But, hey, Karma’s a Bitch and Weinstein was finally outed by last week’s scathing New York Times piece on the mighty mogul, with victims like Ashley Judd being brave enough to go on the record with their horrific encounters.

Two years ago, Variety interviewed Judd for a piece we were running in our Power of Women issue. She spoke in great detail of a hideous encounter she had had with a studio mogul, but stopped short of naming him despite being pushed hard by our reporter, Ramin Setoodeh. She told him, “I was sexually harassed by one of the industry’s most famous, admired-slash-reviled bosses,” and went on to give a detailed account of being summoned to his hotel room, asked to watch him take a shower and more. She said she had shared her stories with other actors and learned “the exact same thing had happened to them by the exact same mogul.” Judd, who considered herself empowered, knew that when people read her revelations online, they’d naturally wonder, “Why didn’t you leave the room?” which she called “victim-blaming.”

“When I kept saying no to everything, there was a huge asymmetry of power and control in that room.”

My point exactly.