Former film producer and convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein has been behind bars for a year now, serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault. In that period of time, how has Harvey Weinstein’s case affected the survivors of similar predatory behaviour? In order to understand that, we might need to provide some context to Weinstein’s conviction.
In October of 2017, dozens of allegations surfaced against Weinstein, which soon gained traction on social media and led to the growth in popularity of the “Me Too” movement. Despite the undeniable evidence, Weinstein denied all claims and even hired the British-Israeli private intelligence firm Black Cube to track and gather information on the women who were accusing him of sexual harassment, assault and rape.
Due to such questionable operations, Weinstein’s attorney released private emails between Ben Affleck and Rose McGowan’s former manager, Jill Messick, which drove the latter to suicide after mass cyberbullying. Following this, Weinstein’s legal representative Benjamin Brafman put out this despicable statement: “The casting couch in Hollywood was not invented by Harvey Weinstein,” it read. “If a woman decides that she needs to have sex with a Hollywood producer to advance her career and actually does it and finds the whole thing offensive, that’s not rape.”
After a long battle, one which came at huge stress to the many victims involved, Weinstein was finally convicted on 11 March last year and is now serving his prison sentence at Wende Correctional Facility. He maintained that his lawyers would appeal the court’s judgement, but even during his time in prison, four more women came out with allegations against Weinstein, and one of them was aged 17 at the time of the assault. The court documents that were filed claim that Weinstein repeatedly committed sexual offences for several years, dating from 1984 to 2013. He also contracted COVID-19 in prison, eventually recovering and appearing for virtual hearings where he looked in good health. Presently, his legal team is preparing an appeal brief, but the chances of Weinstein escaping justice for his multiple crimes seem very slim. According to his spokesperson, he’s “not enjoying the prospect of a longer term there, so he occupies his time with his legal strategy while reading history books about various luminaries and academics.”
Although Weinstein is the only major Hollywood figure to be charged and convicted of sexual violations, allegations about other prominent celebrities like Kevin Spacey have surfaced. Now dubbed as the “Weinstein effect”, this marked the beginning of a global trend where survivors of such criminal offences could speak truth to power. Weinstein’s case made the world acknowledge the reality of sexual harassment and is now seen as the “tipping point”, paving the way for more exposés. Other celebrities who are being prosecuted for the same include That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson and Atomic Blonde producer David Guillod. Both of them have been accused of rape by multiple women, and both of them have pleaded not guilty. Filmmaker Brett Ratner has tried to make a comeback after taking a hiatus due to similar accusations while trying to file lawsuits in order to silence the survivors speaking out against him.
The world has been preoccupied with the management of the pandemic for a while now, but the “Me Too” movement hasn’t slowed down. Earlier this year, allegations against musician Marilyn Manson flooded social media. Manson’s former fiancé, Evan Rachel Wood, released a public statement where she claimed that he had “horrifically abused [her] for years”, following which several others came forth with their own accounts of Manson’s misconduct towards them. Even though he denied all the claims, calling them “horrible distortions of reality,” Manson was dropped by his record label, talent agency and his long-time manager.
Avengers’s director Joss Whedon, Shia LaBeouf and Armie Hammer too have also been subjected to abuse and misconduct allegations, with the latter being accused of cannibalistic tendencies. If anything, Weinstein’s case has proven that powerful people can be held accountable for their grotesque crimes, but the fact that he is the only one behind bars is the true tragedy.