A few days ago, I started to write the Harvey Weinstein opinion that’s already been written a hundred times by a hundred people. It was a story about how many hands were dirty and how many moral failures and complicit cowards there were that never spoke up in the presence of the horrors Mr. Weinstein is alleged to have committed. It was a story of how hypocritical gender signaling Hollywood was to allow or even support the reprehensible behavior of a monster for decades.
How shameful it was to have let it all happen.
Something didn’t feel right about it though. I stared at it on the page for half a day and then deleted it. I was a dude screaming at a bunch of other dudes who let some rich and powerful dude get away with assaulting women. For me, that was the story. The monster, after all, was a constant. He was a disgusting, reprehensible, shameful constant. But there was nothing to be done about him. Only about the actions of those who may have been able to stop him.
Sometime between the decision to delete that incomplete opinion and now, as I give it a second go, the gravity of what I was saying hit me. It was this:
The lack of agency women have over their bodies is a constant. There’s nothing to be done about it. It is ever present. And never changing. Across time, space and culture.
And that’s the real story.
The story wasn’t just about complicit silence in the presence of a monster. The story was the monster. The story was the lack of agency he represents in a society that has simply been this way…forever. While that hangs there for a bit, consider the following:
According to the National Resource Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women in America will be raped.
47% of women experience sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime.
As I sit in a room typing, I can see without turning my head, ten women. If I’m to believe the statistics, then two of them have been raped. If the statistics have been exaggerated by an oversensitive gender signaling academic source by 200%, one of them has been raped.
It is statistically reasonable to assume that a woman in the room I’m in has been raped. And now she walks around every day with people who could do it to her again, if they wanted to. And I can’t wrap my head around that. And I’ll never be able to.
I’m a 40-year-old, fit, decent looking guy with a good enough personality, I think. I’ve never once been hit on at work. I can count the amount of times I’ve actually had to tell a woman, with words, that I wasn’t interested on one hand. Normally its sufficient to walk a few paces away. I’ve never had to tell one twice. The notion that I would be powerless if they decided not to listen has never crossed my mind.
And it never will.
For a week now I’ve been reading news stories about all the people that knew what was going on around Harvey Weinstein. They should have said something. I won’t disagree. The lessons of the Catholic Church, Penn State Football and Bill Cosby will tell you that’s the case. But the tragedy of rape isn’t just the complicit silence.
The tragedy of rape is rape.
We can scream all we want about the lack of response by others with the power to stop it. But none of that brings back the agency of the women who lost it. And in a society where we promised we would all be equal, in which we’ve sacrificed endless blood and treasure to insist on it, this happens too much.
If one in five women is a victim of rape, then there are a hell of a lot of men out there raping women.
Print that story and see if it trends on Twitter.