One of the most powerful lessons of the Harvey Weinstein saga is how clearly it illustrates the power dynamics in so many cases of sexual harassment and assault. Often when allegations surface many years after the fact, observers ask: if it’s true, why didn’t somebody say something sooner?
Here’s the simple answer: there’s nothing in it for the victim.
The likelihood that the allegation will be dismissed as a misunderstanding is high. So is the probability that the publicizing of the incident will cause more harm to the victim than the perpetrator. And when the aggressor is powerful and successful, chances are good that people will rally around him. The path of least resistance for the board of a Hollywood studio or a successful company is to discredit or pay hush money to the lowly employee or the aspiring actress rather than go through a major investigation or leadership change.
It would be nice to think this is a turning point in the fight against predatory behaviour but let’s not kid ourselves. While Weinstein’s career is now in a shambles, there are still many powerful men who likely are getting away with the same behaviour.