We are taught from a young age that you're rewarded for doing something good and punished for doing something bad. But as we grow older, we realize that the world does not necessarily work that way, and we have seen those with power dodging the barbed wires of the law. Was this also the case this time? What fate did Harvey Weinstein face? What footprints did the #MeToo movement leave behind in the film industry?
#MeToo, a Starting Point not a Finish Line
Harvey Weinstein landed in the swamp
Harvey Weinstein, a famous film producer in Hollywood, was found to have committed sex crimes against actors and affiliates for the past 20 years. Hollywoodians courageously confessed to the whole world his crimes, and it was enough to anger the public.
Weinstein’s sexual offenses as revealed by the victims are as follows:
- Coerced victims into oral sex.
- Masturbated in front of the victim and forced her to watch.
- Forced victims to watch him shower.
- Coerced into massaging him while he was wearing only a bathrobe.
- Forced victims to touch his genitals by taking their hand.
- Forced to kiss another victim (female).
- Made sexually harassing comments while groping the victim
All of these behaviors threaten the sexual self-determination of every victim, but there is another reason his sexual offenses are vicious. It is the fact that he threatened victims with his position and influence in the film industry. He used his position and told his victims that he would cast them in a film, or invest and employ them in the planned film. He warned that they won’t have a place in the film industry if they refuse to follow his orders, give up, and refuse to fulfill his sexual desire. He made the victims afraid and also ensured that there was no evidence of his crimes. Victims say that it was as if he took hold of their lives.
And he actually had the power to do so. But there was something that he overlooked. The power of each individual victim may be weak, but over 80 victims accused him of sexual offenses and we were able to see good triumphing over evil once again.
The Weinstein Company, which was founded with his brother Robert “Rob” Weinstein, declared bankruptcy in 2018, and Harvey Weinstein's wife Georgina Chapman apologized to the victims and divorced him. He was expelled from various film industry associations as a member. After a long legal battle, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment and found guilty of sexual offenses in March 2020.
“Don’t you know who I am? I'm Harvey Weinstein.” Just as he wished, we now know who he is. He is no longer a famous film producer in Hollywood and is now known as a sex offender who needs to spend the rest of his life in a cold prison cell. He will always be a lesson to the film industry, and the world from 2017 onward will no longer forget the outcry of victims. The world has changed, and the change cannot be undone.
The Right to Ensure Safety in the Workplace
After the fall of Harvey Weinstein, women did not stop there and founded an organization called “Time’s Up”. The Time’s Up organization takes a further step from the #MeToo movement, aiming to solve sexual violence and gender discrimination in the workplace throughout the US. Over 300 women participated including actresses such as Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, and America Ferrera, those in the film industry such as TV producers and screenwriters, as well as attorneys Nina Shaw and Tina Tchen, former advisers of Michelle Obama.
Time’s Up officially announced the organization’s foundation on January 1, 2018. They declared solidarity through New York Times ads of “everyone deserves a right to earn a living, to take care of themselves, to take care of their families, free of the impediments of harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination” to eradicate the glass ceiling, sexual assault in the workplace, and sexual harassment. Time’s Up created a $13 million USD (₩13.8 billion KRW) fund for legal support for women subject to sexual assault, and many contributed to the fund including Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Meryl Streep, and Steven Spielberg.
Then why is it that they focus specifically on equality and safety in the workplace? They say that we must first get rid of inequality in order to eradicate sexual harassment and sexual assault. Looking at the Harvey Weinstein case, which prompted Time’s Up, the sexual crimes occurred due to inequality and power imbalance.
Time’s Up aims to pass laws regarding the work environment for women working in low-wage industries, promote opportunities for women of color, and address gender equality issues such as equal pay and work environment between men and women.
Black Waves at the Golden Globes
There was a big wave of “black” during the 75th Golden Globes red carpet in January 2018. Many actresses including Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, and Billie Jean King attended the awards wearing black dresses. The colorfulness of the previous year’s awards was hard to find. This wasn't just a trend but the first movement by the “Time’s Up” organization founded that very month.
The members of Time’s Up, or the supporters of their activism, showed their unity and solidarity in supporting women’s rights and the recovery of victims of sexual violence and resolve to not forget the Harvey Weinstein case and the #MeToo movement where they could gain the most attention.
Actresses wore black dresses or black suits, and actors had a black ribbon with “Time’s UP” printed on it.
Some ridiculed the awards show that was full of black, saying that it looked like a funeral. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps they were holding a funeral for the pain and hopelessness of the victims who were overlooked and who had to endure sexual assault alone. The era of solidarity to act against sexual assault and inequality has begun.
- Harvey Weinstein was eventually sentenced to 23 years in prison for sex crimes
- The indictment of Harvey Weinstein was not the end of the #MeToo movement, but the beginning