A Continuing Issue …



                                  by Kenneth Bagnell



                                The dreadful story of Harvey Weinstein never seems to end, even bringing out more ugly reports about his abuse of young women aspiring to film work. There are many of them as reported in Forbes Magazine which names 50 women who have been abused at his hands. That insistence on outright rape is being seen in some circles as an evolving inclination of sexually biased men. Maybe. Moreover, if the so-called rapist, Weinstein, is in a high place — business, sport, theatre — he feels that he’s in a secure position that allows his  advances.  He is reported to have had at least 40 or more sexual encounters in which he actually used force. The number continues to grow. No wonder that with all that over their heads, Mrs. Weinstein packed and fled.

        Much has been written over recent days on Weinstein but there will much more for months, maybe years. But the issue that engages me is that sexual relationships are meaningless unless partners, wife and husband, have a valid and mutual affection. Not so with Weinstein. As far as is evident, Weinstein not only abused women but he has totally disregarded any affection. In my university years I did a degree majoring in clinical psychology, and once I graduated then came graduate theological school, where a late and fine United Churchman and psychiatrist, Fraser Nicholson, guided me greatly, forming both my personal and professional approach to those who can be helped with verbal treatment. To me, the most defining aspect of Weinstein’s incredible womanizing is that it was “unwanted sexual abuse,” the shock of which was profound. At least 90 percent of those victims, have now gone through what they can never truly dismiss for the rest of their lives: shock, fear, unbelief and wariness of being alone with a man. Sad to say, excluding gay men and truly gentlemen producers, the theatre has seemed to me, at least, a place for women to be wary.

        The CBC, according to one of its journalists in a public statement, claims that “fear of retaliation” is restraining some Canadian women from reporting sexual harassment in the workplace. Nonetheless, the reporter, Katie Simpson,  says in her article which is on my desk that even when such intrusion happens, the incidents, “are not dealt with effectively”. Patty Hajdu, Minister of the Status of Women, who oversaw the inquiry, gave this statement: “We know that these incidents have profound negative effects such as harming workers health and safety, increasing absenteeism, and costs for employers. Harassment was the most common type of behavior experienced by online survey respondents – a full 60 percent having experienced it. Thirty percent of respondents said they had experienced sexual harassment, 21 percent that they had experienced violence and 3 percent that they had experienced sexual violence.”

     Canadian women have not overlooked this critical issue and The Canadian Women’s Foundation, has complied an excellent document including our subject, largely based on questions women might be asking, and with responses that are both credible and sensible. It’s built around issues the first few of which are examples: (1)“Is sexual assault really as common as people say?” (2) “Aren’t most sexual assaults very minor?” (3) “To avoid sexual assault shouldn’t women take responsibility for their own safety.” (4) “Why would someone sexually assault or harass a woman?”  There’s much more which you can read by going to www.canadianwomen.org  The postal address is Canadian Women’s Foundation, 504, 133 Richmond Street West, Toronto, On. M5H 2L3. It’s a most through and helpful document, ideal for girls on their way to womanhood.

         So much has been written on the American incident, I’ve done some thinking on the cause of the excessive sexual addiction of Weinstein’s life and what can be done about him and others like him. Unfortunately, for what it’s worth, The US psychiatric community declines to include “sex addiction” which I doubt, in their “Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” Others, mainly psychologists, have no hesitation in calling a spade a spade, as did one of their member, Dr. David J. Ley, a clinical psychologist in New Mexico, whose recent book is entitled, “The Myth of Sex Addiction.” I agree with his title immediately. Why? There’s more to it than addiction, hence it needs analysis either from psychology or psychiatry. Consider a man -– Weinstein for example — asking women to observe his sexual apparatus. You think that doesn’t require specialized psychological or psychiatric insight?  An NBC presentation has a print version of one news moment when a colleague of Ley, Dr. Dawn Michael, says: “We see this parade of men getting caught in this type of hypocrisy. They claim their behaviour is the result of this alleged disorder when we all know these are men who are abusing their power and privilege.” Power and privilege is also my speculation.

      Even as late as early November, women were still coming forward to the police with claims not just of exhibiting but assaults. All this is painful to everybody but we ought to know just what he did to yet unknown young women, including this young woman who is relatively new in film or theatrical work. I came upon the story on CBS Newsprint: “HBO star Paz de la Huerta alleges Harvey Weinstein raped her twice.” Raped. According to the TV the two of them had had a drink or two then went to her apartment and the rest is yours to infer. The broad story was first published by The New York Times in early October in a lengthy article alleging that Weinstein had used three decades of his high position usually by promising great careers.

       The New York Times was not the only major publication that latched on to the breaking issue. The elite New Yorker, came up with one of its elegant articles not only revealing the women mentioned in The Times, but more detailed by including several other young women. (The New Yorker even included an audio recording of Weinstein trying to persuade a young actress to come to his hotel room. Apparently she didn’t.) However, The New York Tines kept up its inquiring articles, and this time included seven or eight more working women who had been exploited by Weinstein. I rather doubt the success he envisages by his decision to sue the newspaper, The New York Times, What an undertaking. (His reason will be that the paper did not give him an opportunity to reply to the allegations before the paper went to print.)  In any case, the long hearings and lengthy courtroom trial will draw not thousands but in this media generation it will obviously be millions. As for the accused, the speculation in both the US and the UK is that he’ll be found guilty and sent to prison for over 20 years. If so, we can only deduce one thing: where he’s headed there will be no women to exploit.          



                                        30 30 30 30 30


Submit a Comment