Harvey Weinstein’s actions are well-known to many within his company and others in the industry. Over the years, a few women have spoken out who were affected, but that number could climb as more speak out. Quentin Tarantino, for example, has taken responsibility for knowing about what the Hollywood mogul was doing but not taking action. Weinstein’s actions may seem like a narrow story that only applies to Hollywood, but it does have broader implications.
Whether it’s Weinstein or President Donald Trump, cover-ups of sexual assault allegations happen daily — they are out there, right in front of our eyes. Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret in Hollywood for years, but even when a journalist was able to develop a solid story on the issue, it was buried.
NBC specifically tried to make this story go away, heavily scrutinizing it before deciding not to publish it. According to The Huffington Post, Ronan Farrow first approached NBC with the story and had a source who would go on camera in silhouette to say Harvey Weinstein had raped her, along with a recording in which he admitted to groping an Italian model. NBC thought this wasn’t enough to go on air and would not let him continue working on it but allowed him to take it to The New Yorker.
NBC is also the channel that runs “The Apprentice,” which means they must have hours of tape of Trump that could be revealing. They haven’t released anything yet, despite a former producer on the show saying there were remarks far worse than the infamous “Access Hollywood” remarks.
Some see the Weinstein story as evidence victims who are more famous have power over their situation, but in fact it’s just the opposite. I’m not sure the story would get as much traction if it just involved Rose McGowan and Ambra Battilana Gutierrez — the sheer volume of women makes this indisputable. To blame victims of Weinstein’s harassment and assault, even if they have become more successful actresses since then, is wrong. No matter how powerful they become it’s not their fault for not speaking out. Why is it up to them and not the prominent male producers and actors of Hollywood to speak up when they see injustice?
This cover-up for a sex offender wasn’t a product of Hollywood culture, but rather a symptom of rampant misogyny which is still all too present in the U.S. This is the most visible part of our culture — women manipulated and harassed in all industries whose accusations are not taken seriously. Not much has changed since Anita Hill testified that she was harassed by Clarence Thomas, and then there’s Anthony Weiner, who most recently targeted an underage girl with explicit images online. In sports, there are doctors and coaches who take advantage of athletes.
Not believing victims is equivalent to being complicit in rape culture. So many people have knowledge of what is happening, and they choose to not do anything about it, even when it is meticulously reported, and yet NBC and people within Hollywood prioritize their careers over doing what is right.
The Weinstein scandal reminds us rather than blaming victims, we have to create an atmosphere that makes victims feel they can speak out. It’s wrong to attribute this to Hollywood. Whether it’s a doctor on the U.S. women’s national gymnastics team, an entertainment executive or fellow classmate, it’s important to be vigilant and prioritize victims over protecting institutions.
Nicole Dan is a UF political science and journalism senior. Her column appears on Mondays.