Saturday, November 04, 2017

Weinstein Scandal: longing "for the ultimate male/female Safe Space — a space where every male is neutered"

Social-media campaigns often get my back up,
writes Ella Whelan over at Spiked Online,
especially those designed to ‘raise awareness’. And the #MeToo hashtag in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal is no exception.

 … As with all social-media trends, it’s hard to know what is true and what is exaggeration. #MeToo is particularly tricky to judge. Some have tweeted about actual experiences, ranging from being whistled at to being sexually assaulted. Others have simply said ‘me too’, leaving the rest to the imagination. Some have argued that they don’t need to say what happened to them, and insist that asking women to prove they were harassed is a kind of victim-blaming. One journalist tweeted: ‘Reminder that if a woman didn’t post #MeToo, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don’t owe you their story.’

Last week on spiked, Brendan O'Neill argued that the hysteria surrounding the Weinstein scandal was like something out of The Crucible [see excerpt below]. The past few days has borne this out. This is now a witch hunt by social media. Every celebrity and public figure, no matter how low down the pecking order, has felt it necessary to come out and denounce Weinstein and declare that the ‘survivors’ are brave, pioneering and strong.

 … It’s hard not to wince at the morbid excitement among some feminists, who feel they finally have a hate figure through which they can cast judgements on the rest of society. Weinstein was a sexual predator, they argue, and this proves all men are probably predators.

 … And who are these men? What have they allegedly done? Many of the allegations being made by the #MeToo brigade have nothing to do with sexual harassment. Calling someone ‘hot’ or ‘babes’, wolf whistling or shouting ‘show us your knickers’ at a passing woman… that isn’t sexual harassment; it’s immature behaviour. Should women have to put up with idiots with bad manners? Of course not. But should we be labelling such behaviour sexual harassment? Are all rude men sexual predators like Weinstein? No.

It’s time we clarified what sexual harassment really means. It’s not just the occasional offhand comment or unpleasant exchange. By labelling everything from shouts on the street to glances at the bar as sexual harassment, we denigrate the term. The panic about harassment and women’s safety is spinning out of control. Listening to some feminists, you’d be forgiven for thinking women are in danger every time they step into the street. And that we need more regulation and more law to protect women and control men. Cat-calling is now a hate crime in Nottinghamshire. Calling on the state to protect women from men smacks of a Victorian, patronising illiberalism.
In that perspective, Insta-Wife Helen Smith asks a pertinent question: 
Is the Weinstein scandal just an excuse to try and further the anti-male political agenda?
The author of The Kinder, Gentler Military (How Political Correctness Affects Our Ability to Win Wars), Stephanie "Legs" Gutman, chimes in:
Here’s the problem with #MeToo-ism and the chortling over Weinstein (even if he was a big Hillary donor, etc, etc): they have become an excuse for a feeding frenzy. The mantle of victimhood is too tempting to pass up, so accusation and grievance is spreading.

 … It’s all getting balled up together: the subjective and the conflicted with the clear-cut and very serious. And as the show rolls on, other victims are empowered, as they say, to come forward.

 … We all know how this movie ends. The frenzy of accusation and airing of grievance will roll down the proverbial mountain like the proverbial snowball, collecting more people, more hazy definitions and more anecdotes in its wake. What the snowball will crush – what to a large extent it has already crushed – is normal, relaxed, even… can I say it?... flirtatious interactions between men and women. 

 … Sexual-harassment allegations can make you rich.

Women are better protected now from the real, nasty kinds of sexual harassment – the kind we see in the Weinstein case, where someone who has financial power over another demands a quid pro quo – but a lot has been lost.

 … There’s been a lot of speculation about why the Harvey Weinstein charges – which are decades old – are being unearthed now. Perhaps the people who long for the ultimate male/female Safe Space – presumably a space where every male is neutered – are responding, if only unconsciously, to DeVos. Certainly the #MeToo people, who’ve chosen to take a story about one man and make it a story about all men, are.

Across the media and Twittersphere, on TV talk shows and in newspaper gossip circles, the allegations against Weinstein are treated as truths
writes Brendan O'Neill pointedly.
Almost as final judgements. He’s guilty as sin – that’s how you feel, right? Admit it. It’s how I feel. I’m just not sure I should.

That Weinstein denies the allegations is treated as immaterial, as if the right of individuals to deny accusations against them, and to be presumed innocent of those accusations until found guilty of them, were insignificant. As if this right were not the building block of justice and the thing that separates our fair societies from the finger-pointing hysteria of pre-modern or tyrannical regimes.

 … Here are some things about the Weinstein scandal that I think should be causing more concern.

Trial by media

Everyone loses out when the media act as judge, jury and executioner. Even when it’s respectable outlets like the New York Times and the New Yorker, which have been at the forefront of reporting the Weinstein allegations, playing the moralistic role tabloids normally adopt in relation to accused famous people.

 … Media trials are wrong. If you have been assaulted or raped by a man, go to court, please. We want these men off our streets. Trial by media both sensationalises and diminishes allegations. It sensationalises them by packaging them up in as titillating a way as possible, for sales and retweets. And it diminishes them by treating even something as dreadful as an allegation of rape as a thing Ronan Farrow should write longreads about rather than something a judge and jury, on behalf of us, the citizenry, should rule on and potentially punish.

 … If Weinstein did not rape women, then what’s happening to him right now is ugly. But if he did, then it isn’t ugly enough. Alleged rapists should be in court, under the judgement of society itself.

Guilt by association

One of the most disturbing things in the Weinstein scandal is the media and moral pressure being heaped on anyone who ever met him to denounce him now. Loudly and publicly. Actors and actresses are being strong-armed to say how disgusted they are with Weinstein. Tough luck if they believe in the process of justice and would prefer to withhold their own personal feelings until that has been served. That isn’t an option now.

Woe betide any Weinstein associate or contact who doesn’t now point a finger and say, ‘I CONDEMN’. The Guardian went so far as to publish a list of 28 Hollywood names who had failed to respond to its insistence that they slam Weinstein. It’s like a new blacklist. All these people were subsequently ridiculed online. Denounced as rape apologists, enablers of evil, corrupted by their own silence. There’s a pre-modern feel to it. ‘Denounce the devil or we will presume you are in concert with the devil.’ Last night’s Newsnight on the BBC was trailed with this line: ‘Tonight, Jez Butterworth publicly denounces Harvey Weinstein.’ Roll up, roll up. Butterworth will now escape censure. He has saved himself.

This media naming and shaming of people who have merely worked with Weinstein is the thing that most makes this seem like something more than the exposure of one man’s alleged behaviour; which makes it feel more like an act of intolerance, almost of hysteria.

The silencing of disagreement

That possible hysteria can also be glimpsed in the fury visited upon anyone who questions whether Weinstein is evil, or even guilty of everything that has been alleged. When fashion designer Donna Karan rather foolishly asked if some women invite male advances – overlooking that it’s abuse, not advances, that is being alleged – she was turned instantly into a global pariah. Her reputation is destroyed, we’re told. People are boycotting her clothes. Her business will be ‘throttled’, experts say. Some people are posting photos of themselves destroying her garments. ‘BURN IT’, say tweeters of her clothing. She’s a ‘disgusting human being’ and we should ‘burn her clothes’, online commenters cry. What is this? Burn the witch’s wares?

 …That this isn’t an open, level-headed search for justice and instead has become something darker and weirder is clear in these clampdowns on anyone who speaks out of turn. …

The search for moral cleansing

‘Cleanse yourselves’, said actress Rose McGowan on Twitter.

McGowan was paid by Weinstein after an ‘episode in a hotel room’ in 1997. She was telling ‘dirty’ Hollywood to cleanse itself. This is a dominant theme in the commentary on Weinstein: malevolence is widespread, hidden everywhere, and it must be exorcised. ‘We all know a Weinstein’, columnists say. Do we? This is what the Weinstein scandal has become, or threatens to become. A national cleansing; an American cleansing. The use of alleged crimes to search for evil, and expel evil, and make ourselves Pure and Good once more. Again, not unlike Salem.
Related: "Is Harvey Weinstein a monster?", can you learn "to distinguish between real abuse and an unwanted come-on?", and other pointed questions from our victim-worshipping world

• Weinstein Scandal: Isn't the real problem the 1960s sexual revolution, which has lead to leftists spending much of their time scolding us about our sexism, racism, and retrograde morality?

Friday, November 03, 2017

Weinstein Scandal: Isn't the real problem the 1960s sexual revolution, which has lead to leftists spending much of their time scolding us about our sexism, racism, and retrograde morality?

I don't agree with everything in James Kirchick's Daily Beast article, but he starts out with this paragraph:
Weinstein is just the latest in a long line of men whose left-wing politics coexisted harmoniously with retrograde attitudes about women. In his statement, Weinstein said that he “came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.” Many people scoffed at this explanation, as this was precisely the time when women’s liberation brought workplace sexism to the societal forefront. But Weinstein was right in a way he didn’t comprehend. Ever since second-wave feminism became part of the political left, there have been men who, ostensibly enlightened in the realm of gender relations, are in fact deeply misogynist and believe that their progressive street cred somehow obviates their attitudes about women, attitudes as regressive as those held by the Mad Men-era males who ruled the earth just before the sexual revolution.
More to the point, Jon Gabriel writes about the gall Hollywood has to wag its finger (thanks to Instapundit):
America knows that the same culture that enabled Weinstein spends much of its time scolding us about our sexism, racism and retrograde morality.

George Clooney lectured the nation at the 2006 Oscars, saying Hollywood’s “out-of-touch” elites were “the ones who talked about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular.”

Clooney credits Jabba the Weinstein with his big breaks into acting and directing.

At the 2003 ceremonies, Michael Moore thundered "Shame on you, Mr. Bush!" Weinstein has produced several of Moore’s deceptive documentaries, including his upcoming Trump-thrashing screed slated for 2018.

Perennial awards favorite Meryl Streep scolded Trump voters for sexism in her 2017 Golden Globe speech.

"This instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she said. “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose."

This is the same Streep who used her 2012 Globe speech to thank “God – Harvey Weinstein,” praise be unto him.

 … Americans … expect Hollywood elites to be hypocrites, whether it’s Leonardo DiCaprio flying 8,000 miles in a private jet to pick up an environmental award, or Alec Baldwin attacking Wall Street while working as a pitchman for Capital One.
They also expect Washington elites to be hypocrites. Democrats preach feminism while lionizing abusers like Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, and denounce capitalism while nominating ultra-rich candidates like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
As Glenn Ryenolds remarks in USA Today,
For people who keep telling us how fearlessly truthful they are, they sure have a lot of ugly “open secrets.”
What does this tell us about the liberal world? asks The Guardian's Thomas Frank.
Today … Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie producer … is in the headlines for an astonishing array of alleged sexual harassment and assaults, but once upon a time he was renowned for something quite different: his generous patronage of liberal politicians and progressive causes.

This leading impresario of awful was an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He was a strong critic of racism, sexism and censorship. He hosted sumptuous parties to raise money for the fight against Aids.

In 2004 he was a prominent supporter of a women’s group called “Mothers Opposing Bush”. And in the aftermath of the terrorist attack against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, he stood up boldly for freedom of the press. Taking to the pages of Variety, Weinstein announced that “No one can ever defeat the ability of great artists to show us our world.”

To call this man a hypocrite is to state the obvious. This champion of women is now accused of sexual harassment on an epic scale. This defender of the press was excellent at manipulating it and on one memorable occasion is said to have physically roughed up a reporter asking tough questions.

  … What explains Weinstein’s identification with progressive causes? Perhaps it was all about cozying up to power, the thrill of being a friend of Bill Clinton.

Perhaps it was all about moral absolution, in the same way that lists of corporations-that-care always turn out to be led by outfits like Walmart, Goldman Sachs and Exxon-Mobil. In the world of the wealthy, liberalism is something you do to offset your rapacious behavior in other spheres. It’s no coincidence that, in Weinstein’s desperate first response to the accusations against him, he thought to promise war against the National Rifle Association and to support scholarships for women.

But it’s also something deeper than that. Most people on the left think of themselves as resisters of authority, but for certain of their leaders, modern-day liberalism is a way of rationalizing and exercising class power. Specifically, the power of what some like to call the “creative class”, by which they mean well-heeled executives in industries like Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

Worshiping these very special people is the doctrine that has allowed Democrats to pull even with Republicans in fundraising and that has buoyed the party’s fortunes in every wealthy suburb in America.

That this strain of liberalism also attracts hypocrites like Harvey Weinstein, with his superlative fundraising powers and his reverence for “great artists”, should probably not surprise us. Remember, too, that Weinstein is the man who once wrote an essay demanding leniency for Roman Polanski, partially on the grounds that he too was a “great artist”.
Harvey Weinstein seemed to fit right in. This is a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement. That makes its great pronouncements from Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. That routinely understands the relationship between the common people and showbiz celebrities to be one of trust and intimacy.

Countless people who should have known better are proclaiming their surprise at Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuses. But in truth, their blindness is even more sweeping than that. They are lost these days in a hall of moral mirrors, weeping tears of admiration for their own virtue and good taste.

Robert Tracinski drives the point home (spasibo to Instapundit):
If you’ve ever wondered where the left gets this idea that America is some kind of hellscape of misogyny and sexual predation by wealthy and privileged men—well, now you know. They were describing the culture of some of their own institutions.

 … [Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi  and far-left, pro-Communist journalist Sam Kriss] got away with their behavior for as long as they did because they had a reputation of fighting viciously for the cause [other journalist heroes include those at NBC, The New Republic, Mother Jones, etc, etc, etc, not to mention Harvey Weinstein's decision to fight the NRA…], particularly when it required someone who was willing to rejecting normal standards of respectability and civility.

What made them so many fans was precisely their viciousness, their willingness to berate and insult, because surely their political enemies are such horribly evil people that they don’t deserve the protection of civilized norms. Kriss was even part of a movement called the Dirtbag Left:
“a term coined…to refer to a style of left-wing politics that eschews civility-for-its-own-sake in favor of subversive, populist vulgarity.”
In other words, these writers were lionized and promoted precisely because of the characteristics that marked them out as predators. It’s hardly a new phenomenon and has even been immortalized on film. These guys are all the hippie boyfriend in “Forrest Gump,” who can’t help smacking around his girlfriend because “it’s just this war, and that lying SOB Johnson.”

 … The … result, as with previous sex scandals, will be a long-term loss of authority when it comes to lecturing the rest of us from a pretended position of moral superiority.

It turns out that Jeffrey Lord has figured out what the real issue is (thanks to Ed Driscoll):
Question. Where did Harvey ever get the idea he could do these things and it was no big deal?

Answer: From a ’60s culture of a sexual revolution that produced exactly the same behavior in fellow Boomer Bill Clinton. Recall in 1999 that by then Bill Clinton had been accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick, indecent exposure by Paula Jones and groping — in the room adjacent to the Oval Office — by Kathleen Willey. And, of course, he had been investigated by Independent Counsel Ken Starr in the Monica Lewinsky matter, she a White House intern of the ripe old age of 22. The last was detailed in the Independent Counsel’s official report to the House of Representatives, known as “The Starr Report.” It was, to say the least, graphic in terms of what it described of Clinton’s behavior.

With that as background, recall now the incensed response from Democrats and liberals raised in that Baby Boomer sexual revolution culture. They were furious, insisting that this was “only about sex.” Meaning, no big deal.

Exhibit Two: The New York Times

 … [A clip from Michael Moore’s show The Awful Truth, aka Exhibit One] is a vivid expression of just how the ’60s culture out of which Baby Boomers emerged disdained their parents’ sexual mores as a joke, the culture of Puritans and prudes. As if to prove the point, turn no further than a review of Moore’s show in the New York Times. The review says as follows:
Nothing on “The Awful Truth” has been quite as funny or satisfying as a segment from the first episode, in which people dressed as Puritans chase after Ken Starr’s car, waving copies of the Starr Report and howling like extras in “The Crucible.”
Got that? The New York Times — even as Bill Clinton was awash in allegations of rape, groping, pants dropping, and an affair with an employee his daughter’s age — finds Moore’s take labeling Clinton critics as Puritans and prudes “funny” and “satisfying.”

No wonder Harvey Weinstein — a friend of both Bill Clinton and Michael Moore — thought he had carte blanche to do what he has been doing. …

Exhibit Three: The 2003 Oscars

 … Harvey Weinstein deserves all that’s coming. But the interesting question here is what about the 1960s sexual revolution itself that launched, in fairness to Harvey, all manner of Baby Boomers into a sexual culture where everything and anything goes? A sexual culture that was glorified countless times in Hollywood films, sending the repeated message that not only does everything and anything go but that anything and everything are OK.

Liberals — frantic now at the sudden self-undermining of a sexual culture they have spent decades championing, cheering, literally applauding not to mention protecting when they weren’t mocking those who objected — are trying to point accusing fingers at, but of course, President Trump.

Newsflash? Like millions of his fellow Boomers the young Donald Trump grew up swimming in the same culture as the rest of us. And the worst liberals can point to is locker room talk on a bus in a private conversation and what they once liked to call in the Clinton cases “she said-he said” situations, all of which he has not only denied but threatened lawsuits to settle.

The real problem here? It isn’t Harvey or anybody else — it’s the 1960’s sexual revolution and the sexual culture it produced that is so vividly illustrated in those clips from Michael Moore’s mocking of Ken Starr, the loving New York Times review of that episode, and all those cheering Hollywood stars standing to give a rousing round of applause to a child rapist. Not to mention those countless films that glorified all kinds of sexual revolution practices.

Maybe at long last aging Baby Boomers will take some time to reflect on what their — my — generation has wrought. And begin to ask whether what began all those decades ago with the sexual revolution of the 1960s is now taking its long overdue curtain call courtesy of Hollywood’s ultimate Boomer showman — Harvey Weinstein.
Related: Weinstein Scandal: longing "for the ultimate male/female Safe Space — a space where every male is neutered"