OP-ED: #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein – Move for Much Needed Change

Harvey Weinstein is led from the courtroom after sentencing was imposed.

Elizabeth Williams/AP/Shutterstock

Harvey Weinstein is led from the courtroom after sentencing was imposed.

Camilla O’Keefe, Senior, Features Editor

3102000153. 3102000153 is more than just a number. 3102000153 represents a little flame of justice for women not just in Hollywood, but worldwide as producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape and criminal sexual assault on February 24. Just as Weinstein minimalized the women of whom he took advantage into just a thing, he in turn as been minimalized into just a number. 3102000153 is the inmate number by which Harvey Weinstein will be referred for quite a long time.

As monumental as this case is and as much a step forward this is for the #MeToo movement, the fight doesn’t end here. Yes, justice was served, but not in its entirety; Weinstein was still found not guilty of the most damning of his charges (predatory sexual assault), and throughout his trial, his lawyer, Donna Rotunno, continued to make age-old misogynistic arguments of how these women put themselves in these situations and used the same sexist rhetoric when speaking as to how “tough” men have it nowadays. What we as a nation must ensure is that despite his influence, whiteness, age, and status as a male, he receives the punishment that is most fit for him, and that we hold men accountable for their actions against women.

Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of two of the five charges against him: rape and sexual assault. However, he wasn’t found guilty of the worst of his charges: predatory sexual assault. Dozens of women–models, actresses, assistants, etc.–have come and spoke out against his behavior. And yet, his lawyers argued that these women were an example of the #MeToo movement running amok. But really, how can a movement about calling out men on sexual harassment and assault be “too much” or running amok? 

The answer is no, #MeToo is not too much nor running amok. The real reason these arguments are made is because we still live in a world where victim blaming still exists. And this was very much present in Rotunno’s argument and manner throughout the trial. She talked about how women need to take “more responsibility”, completely disregarding the oh so crazy idea of holding men accountable. She talked about how “tough” it is for men now with #MeToo, as if being sexually assaulted or raped isn’t. She said women have to be hyper-aware and not put themselves in situations, completely disregarding that sexual assault and rape can happen anywhere: from a date, to a meeting, to a classroom. She said she has never been sexually assaulted or raped, “Because I would never put myself in that position,” as if someone’s rapist can’t be a person they trust, from a so-called friend to a boss, like Weinstein was to his victims. Rotunno and Weinstein’s other lawyers said that Rikers is a dangerous place for him and that he will be hurt, as if these women haven’t gone through the ever-lasting pain and eternal memory of having their privacy taken away by this man. 

Harvey Weinstein used his power and status to threaten and prey on women while keeping them silent, and seeing him in handcuffs was, for those actresses and millions of women who have gone through similar experiences, like a much needed rain in a never-ending drought. The women who were strong enough to speak out, and the women who were strong enough to sit on the stand while having misogynistic and chauvanistic pigs try and tear them apart are heroic not just for the other women hurt by Harvey, but for all women who are victims of rape and sexual assault. But one thing his trial did prove is that people will still try and find every smile, every laugh, every conversation to try and prove that she, whoever she is, wanted it instead of holding men accountable for their actions. Yes, this trial was a big step for the #MeToo movement, but the fight is far from over because only until men are held accountable can this fight be over. Because saying to make sure you don’t smile at strangers, don’t show too much skin, or be alone with a man isn’t saying “be careful” nor holding him accountable for his actions but rather saying “make sure he rapes the other girl.”