Setting aside the gendered power differential inherent in real historical #witch hunts (pretty sure it wasn’t all the rape victims in Salem getting together to burn the mayor), and the pathetic gall of men feeling hunted after millenniums of treating women like prey, I will let you guys have this one. Sure, if you insist, it’s a witch #hunt. I’m a witch, and I’m hunting you.
My social media feeds have been glutted for the past three days with stories of degradation, workplace harassment, rape — people, mostly women but also nonbinary and male survivors, using the hashtag #MeToo to demonstrate the staggering breadth and ubiquity of sexual predation. Similar surges of personal storytelling followed Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape, the flurry of accusations against Bill Cosby and Elliot Rodger’s 2014 murder spree, in which he explicitly aimed to punish women for rejecting him sexually.
In the past five years there has been a positive deluge of victims speaking out — an uncountable number that represents not just the acute trauma of an unwanted touch or a dehumanizing comment, but the invisible ripples of confidence lost, jobs quit, careers stalled, women’s influence diminished, men’s power entrenched.
I keep thinking about what MeToo would look like if it wasn’t a roll call of people who’ve experienced sexual predation, but a roll call of those who’ve experienced sexual predation and actually seen their perpetrator brought to justice, whether professionally, legally or even personally. The number would be minuscule. Facebook’s algorithm would bury it.
So, Mr. Allen et al., I know you hate gossip and rumor mills, but unfortunately they’re the only recourse we have. We wish it were different too. In a just system, Weinstein would have faced career-ruining social and professional consequences the first time he changed into a bathrobe and begged a horrified woman for a massage. In a just system, the abuse wouldn’t have stayed an open secret for decades while he was left free to chew through generation after generation of starlets. Weinstein’s life, like Cosby’s, isn’t the story of some tragic, pitiable downfall. It’s the story of someone who got away with it.
The witches are coming, but not for your life. We’re coming for your legacy. The cost of being Harvey Weinstein is not getting to be Harvey Weinstein anymore. We don’t have the justice system on our side; we don’t have institutional power; we don’t have millions of dollars or the presidency; but we have our stories, and we’re going to keep telling them. Happy Halloween.