Weinstein scandal: This is why women don’t speak up

More sordid allegations of sexual abuse and assault have come out against Harvey Weinstein. There are more, and more, and more of them, and I can’t be the only one who is wondering: why now?

Weinstein’s alleged disturbing crimes have come to light thanks to incredible investigative reporting by the New York Times. But why now, after decades and decades of abuse, has he finally been named and shamed?

‘Men sexually assault women’ is not a new headline. Powerful men abusing their position and acting as predators is nothing new.


But when abusive men are starting to be held accountable for their despicable actions? Well, that’s a whole new ball game.

There must be other very, very powerful men in Hollywood who are quaking in their boots right now. Hopefully, there are powerful men in all industries, in all corners of the globe, re-thinking their behavior.

Because, as actress Sarah Polley writes, Weinstein was “just one festering pustule in a diseased industry”.

“The only thing that shocked most people in the film industry about the Harvey Weinstein story was that suddenly, for some reason, people seemed to care,” she shares.

With so many decades behind him of inexcusable behaviour, why is it that women didn’t speak up?

Unfortunately, I know the answer.

It’s because when women (and men, and children) do speak up, we’re often not believed. The horrifying case of Dylan Allen, daughter of Woody Allen, demonstrates this in heartbreaking clarity. Even after her allegations, he continued to build a prolific Hollywood career.

It’s because when we do speak up, nothing changes. Refer to my previous example, and consider Allen’s still-flourishing career. Kate Winslet stars in his newest film.

It’s because when we do speak up, the predator gets away with it. So far, Weinstein has been delivered some steep consequences: his wife has left him, his company has fired him, and his career is in tatters. But his experience is the exception, not the rule. “Very often, women with allegations do not or cannot bring charges,” writes Ronan Farrow. “Very often, those who do come forward pay dearly, facing off against a justice system and a culture designed to take them to pieces.”

And it’s because when we do speak up, we get shamed. What was she wearing? Why did she walk alone at night? Why did she go to his hotel room by herself? Why did she put herself in that situation?

When a person is mugged, no-one says, “Well, why was he walking around wearing a designer watch anyway? He was just asking for it to be stolen…”

This is why women didn’t speak up.

Let’s hope they keep talking now.