“I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did.” – Angelina Jolie
I don’t know what the deal is with all the rape and sexual harassment cases that are coming out all at once, but I am certain something is afoot. Just can’t put my finger on it. But until I can, I’d like to touch (no pun) on this subject of alleged (yes, I did say “alleged”) rapes and sexual harassments in Hollywood and the entertainment business.
More and more women have come out proudly announcing how they were sexually harassed one way or another throughout their climb to fame and fortune.
I can definitely and undeniably sympathize with women and/or men that have suffered the unfortunate event of rape. It is inexcusable and absolutely unacceptable for any man to ever forcefully advance himself onto any woman or man regardless of any situation they might find themselves in or whatever outfit (however revealing) the woman may be wearing. Rape is rape and it is awful for anyone to ever have to go through. Still, there is a huge difference between rape and sexual advances, harassments, bribes or whatever else all these incidents may or may not be titled. And to be clear, this particular piece is not about rape but about sexual harassments in the entertainment business.
As a woman, I can appreciate the value (eye roll) that society has placed upon the women beauty and bountifulness. We are supposed to be seen as the beautiful and soft sex, and men are to be strong yet weak for our irresistible and charming femininity. What a load of potatoes! Men just can’t help and control themselves and women cannot do anything bout it either. Everyone seems to be at the mercy of someone else…the opposite sex!
But not so fast!
When I came to the US I was sixteen going on seventeen. In Romania, once someone is closer to the upcoming age rather than the age they still are, one is encouraged to say they are the age that is coming up (rounding up your age basically – for example, I was 16 but I was telling everyone I was 17 since I was a couple of months away from turning 17).
One day, walking home from school, a young man approached and complimented me. He introduced himself, we made light conversation, then went on his way. I then saw him several more times on my way home from school. One thing led to another and we became boyfriend and girlfriend.
The guy was 26, I was 16 (he thought I was 17, turning 18). I didn’t lie about my age, as per our customs in Romania, and there was nothing strange about a younger girl dating an older guy in Romania either. According to me at that time, everything seemed perfectly normal. I did not, however, count on the perhaps evident reason for which a guy of 26 would even approach a girl in high school. I may have been a bit naïve. He turned out to be very persistent when he wanted something. And he wanted one thing and one thing only. I was 16 and maybe naïve and definitely ignorant about US laws, but I was no pushover. No sir! On the contrary, quite strong-willed and with a decent head on my shoulders. The guy’s insistence to have sex was relentless but to no avail. Sweet talk, intimidation, more sweet talk and more intimidation tactics were used in the effort to achieve his end goal. No form of coercion succeeded in having me do something I was firmly and repeatedly against. Nothing other than rape would have made this guy get what he wanted. Thank goodness, it did not go that route.
Ultimately the relationship ended. I wasn’t going to give it up and he was in it for one reason alone. Turns out he was seeing other girls in the same high school. Looking back, it seems he was targeting “easy prey”. To his dismay and possibly surprise (from a young foreign girl who barely spoke any English), this “prey” outmaneuvered him and left him empty-handed.
I tell you this story because I have a hard time siding with women that claim to have been sexually harassed or abused (as grown women), particularly in the entertainment business. While doing nothing about further possibly preventing such unwanted incidents…until maybe it is of some convenience to them.
Granted, sexual bribes and sexual advances from older, overweight and unattractive Weinstein may cause nausea, vomiting, and regret (if accepted), some women somehow still found themselves mysteriously performing these sexual acts. Possibly in fear of negative repercussions on their acting careers as some stated. Many actresses also came forward, in the Weinstein case, and claimed to have been victims of his sexual advances or proposals but they managed to get away “unscathed”, as Kate Beckinsale stated. Although still faced with the dilemma and predicament they found themselves in, appalled and disgusted by Weinstein’s behavior, these actresses that refused to give in, knew where they stood, they said NO (although repeatedly) and left!
So, is it possible that some accepted the advances, even if they found themselves regretting it later (due to vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and regret), for a possible successful acting career? And some refused the advances, assuming the risks that this action may bring forth?
It is kind of like antidepressant medication. Let’s take Venlavoxine (an antidepressant) for the sake of this example. It is used to treat depression, anxiety, etc.. Yet, it may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The warnings say it may even cause…anxiety. Do I take the medication and run the risk of all of the side effects or do I find another way to treat or cure my depression? As long as am I to decide and no one is forcing this medication down my throat, I am responsible for my own outcome…as long as I am aware of all the consequences and my options.
Am I saying that Weinstein or any other person of influence should just go around and willi-nilli intimidate anyone they wish into whatever perverse acts, simply because they can? Absolutely NOT! Weinstein (and all the likes) should suffer all deemed and appropriate consequences for his gross behavior. He needs to take responsibility for his own actions.
But shouldn’t the women that accepted these advances (and weren’t raped), as regrettable as it may be that they did accept, and however much nausea and vomiting that might have followed, also look at their own behavior honestly and objectively and face the fact that they accepted something in return for something else. They let something happen in hopes of career advancement, then later they decided to come out and point fingers without taking any accountability themselves for the decision they made.
Regretfully, the entertainment business is glorified in such manner that many people are willing to whatever it takes to have a piece of the pie. The entertainment business promises fame and fortune. It promotes fame and fortune as the ultimate goals to achieve, for the one that has those two things, gets all she/he desires. Men get all the women they want, women get access to all the men they want, and they bring everyone luxuries, beauty, and long-lasting happiness. So how can anyone blame anybody for trying to get there by any means necessary?
Our illusions are so far from the truth, yet some people are so convinced and mesmerized by the entertainment business and blinded by all its shiny glitter that will do anything to get some for themselves. Just as will those in a position of influence and power. They will use their leverage to get whatever they want from those so eager to climb the ladder to fame and fortune. And so the vicious cycle goes on.
Until it goes on no more. And everyone comes to their senses and all stand their ground, just as a 16 year old girl would to a pushy, persistent and intimidating, 6’2″, 26 year old man.
“Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded.” – Anita Roddick.
Much courage is what is needed, more often than not, when forced with difficult decisions that can drastically alter the outcome of one’s existence. Be courageous. Say NO!
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