Jazmin Kopotsha | Culture Writer | Monday, 9 October 2017

Why Harvey Weinstein \'Trying To Do Better\' Isn\'t Good Enough

Why Harvey Weinstein 'Trying To Do Better' Isn't Good Enough

The Debrief: Since the New York Times published its investigation into claims of sexual abuse, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has since apologised, taken a leave of absence, denied the accusations and been sacked from his company

Harvey Weinstein is a Hollywood name that you probably aren’t entirely unfamiliar with, but at the same time, you may not have been quite sure who he was or what he’s known for. Prior to last week, Weinstein was predominantly famed for being an Oscar-winning big deal movie producer who had been well respected in the biz for a long time. Malia Obama interned with him at his company earlier this year. He’s also known to be a big financial donor of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. People generally held him in rather high esteem. 

Now though, Weinstein’s name is the latest in a depressingly long list of older men in positions of power over in the world of show business to be surrounded by claims of sexual harassment. An investigation by the New York Times revealed that for almost three decades Weinstein had made numerous legal settlements as a result of the allegations made by former associates and employees at his organisation, The Weinstein Company.

Actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, temporary Weinstein Company employee Emily Nestor and colleague Lauren O’Connor are some of the women who have come forward to provide information about the allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein. Upsetting claims involved Weinstein apparently calling young women to his hotel room, greeting them in a bathrobe and requesting massages or for them to watch him shower. In a letter written to executives at the company back in 2015, O’Connor said that she’d have to have conversations about casting with aspiring actresses, ‘vulnerable women who hope he will get them work’, after these private meetings in his hotel room. O’Connor’s letter didn’t result in an investigation back then. Two officials at the company confirmed to the New York Times that Weinstein had reached at least eight settlements with women between 1990 and 2015, of which one was apparently O’Conner.  

On Thursday Harvey Weinstein gave New York Times a statement. It said: ‘I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go’, adding that he intended to take a leave of absence and work with therapists to ‘deal with this issue head on’. He also inexcusably blamed his actions on the type of workplace culture that was prevalent in the 60s and 70s.

 

The problem here wasn’t an unfamiliar one. We once again had a man in a position of power somewhat acknowledging his abuse of this power and unacceptable behaviour towards young women who were subject to or dependent on his position of authority. We have a man in a position of power giving a futile apology and voluntarily taking a step away from his realm of influence in response to claims of more than twenty years of sexual harassment that had suddenly become public. And quite frankly it’s not enough. ‘Trying to do better’ isn’t really enough, no. 

While Weinstein and his representatives haven’t commented on the backlog of settlements, his Lawyer, Lisa Bloom said in a statement that Weinstein ‘denies many of the accusations as patently false’.

Since the report materialised on Thursday and Weinstein’s statement of apology, things have moved pretty quickly. Page Six reported that Weinstein had hired a famous lawyer to sure the Times for $50 million ‘because of the Times’ inability to be honest with [him] and their reckless reporting’.

He added that he apparently had a deal with the New York Times that meant that they would tell him and his team about the people they had on record ‘so we could respond appropriately, but they didn’t live up to the bargain’. 

 

The story progressed on Friday when one-third of the company’s all-male board resigned, the New York Times reported. On Saturday, his Lawyer Lisa Bloom tweeted that she had resigned as his advisor. And then on Sunday, Weinstein was fired from his company ‘in light of new information about misconduct’, the company said in a statement.  

Since the initial New York Times investigation was published, other women have bravely come out with further accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct by Harvey Weinstein. And while it can't help but feel like the troubling questions around how long his peers and fellow executives knew about his behaviour before now will probably remain just that - troubling questions, what we can hope comes from the growing conversation and coverage of what seems to be an overwhelming history of deeply upsetting inappropriate behaviour by yet another powerful man, is dramatic and just consequences. The sad truth is, we don't actually know how these allegations are going to affect Weinstein's career or even how far these claims and investigations will go, but we can be pretty sure how devastatingly it will have had an effect on the young women who were subject to his actions. 

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