Harvey Weinstein’s Fall: When Women Speak and People Listen

Photo by Theo Wargo via Getty Images.

This morning, Meryl Streep shared an exclusive statement with HuffPost that condemns Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for his alleged sexual harassment of at least eight women.

“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported,” she says in the statement. “The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes…The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar. Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”

Streep’s acknowledgement of these voices rings loud and clear in the wake of the explosive New York Times report, which investigates decades of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.

Harvey Weinstein released a statement in response. In it, he does not deny the accusations. He apologizes for his actions, admits that the way he behaved with colleagues in the past “has caused a lot of pain.” He quotes a Jay Z lyric: “I’m not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children.” He stresses how much he respects women.

He also makes an excuse: “I came of age in the 60s and 70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”

The Weinstein Company’s board of directors fired him three days later.

Actress Ashley Judd speaks publicly about Weinstein’s abuse in the Times‘ exposé: “Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.” She says Weinstein harassed her multiple times, often using his power in the film industry as a coercive bargaining chip.

Actress Rose McGowan, who reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein in 1997, has also spoken out in a series of scathing tweets.

Weinstein’s alleged victims aren’t the only celebrities who have raised their voices. In addition to Streep’s statement of support, a host of other A-listers have used their social media platforms to condemn the media mogul’s actions:

Here is a prime example of the positive power of the internet’s “outrage machine.” Rather than fall into echo chambers, the outpouring of support and calls to action in solidarity further amplify the voices of those who’ve been silenced. People are listening.

It’s the opposite of “The Braindead Megaphone,” a metaphor coined by George Saunders to explain the way the media disseminates information and shapes how people think and act and formulate opinions. The megaphone in Saunders’ story is braindead because it prioritizes sense-blunting titillation at the expense of truth and fact; the megaphone here, though, is one that magnifies the outcry against Weinstein. It is alert, it is angry, it is deliberate. It is armed with truth, and its reverberations are shaping the way this narrative unfolds.

WE found out. Women spoke and the engine of the internet’s outrage machine listened — then whirred to life. Weinstein was rightfully terminated. This series of consequences goes to show that in the ongoing campaign to support victims of sexual harassment and condemn their abusers, there is no such thing as too much noise.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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