After more than two years Harvey Weinstein has been convicted of sexual assualt charges levelled by countless women, writes Lucy Nichols
Harvey Weinstein was first accused of sexual assault in October 2017. Almost two and a half years later, he has finally been convicted in New York.
Since 2017, more than 80 women in the film industry have accused Weinstein of sexual abuse over a period spanning 30 years. These even include some of Hollywood’s most rich and powerful actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Uma Thurman.
His crimes range from indecent exposure to rape, and more often than not took place in swanky hotels in New York, Los Angeles and London. His victims were largely young, aspiring actresses. Weinstein abused his power for his own sexual gratification, promising success to the women he abused; many of the women who were able to refuse his sexual advances were blacklisted from the film industry and had their careers ruined. Though many knew about Weinstein’s crimes, little was done to stop him and he continued to abuse vulnerable young women for decades.
Though sexual assault is not restricted to any gender, the fear of being assaulted is something that every woman has to deal with throughout her life. Sexual abuse is therefore an issue that we must look at through a feminist lens, but it is also crucial to understand that Weinstein managed to get away with so much largely thanks to his wealth and class.
Though Weinstein has not been convicted of some of the most serious allegations against him in New York, he will appear in front of a Los Angeles court already a convicted rapist, facing slightly more serious charges. The likelihood is that Weinstein will serve 25 years in prison despite not being convicted of most of the crimes he has committed.
The New York Times article that first published a story exposing Weinstein acted as a catalyst for the #MeToo hashtag campaign. The #MeToo movement began in 2006 as a grassroots campaign to help young, black, working class survivors of sexual assault. Because of the 2017 hashtag, the movement has since morphed into a global campaign in which thousands have taken to Twitter to detail their own experiences with abuse.
In addition to exposing the culture of rape within the film industry, the movement has been hugely successful in giving survivors the space to come forward about the sexual assault they have faced. A certain amount of stigma around sexual assault has been lifted, though for obvious reasons, our society still has a long way to go in terms of putting an end to the abuse faced by so many. Perhaps the biggest success of the #MeToo movement is that it has proved that even the rich and powerful can be held to account.
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