Weinstein Found Guilty: Now What?
Why It Matters and Where We Go From Here
First it was hysteria. Then it was the end of romance. It has gone too far, they said. What of the men?, they asked. What will we do with all of their work? Must we get rid of our favorite TV shows, movies, music, comedy, journalism, and poetry?
When women stood up and spoke about their experience(s) being sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped by, often powerful, men, these were some of the first responses.
We were told men didn’t know how to act around women now because women were just playing “victims” who shouldn’t have put themselves in that position. Then, men decided they must now avoid women at work because if one does not want to be falsely-accused, the natural thing to do is put women in an even more disadvantaged and isolated position, instead of just not assaulting anyone.
Millions of women, along with some men, had to stand up and share their own stories.
It was a witch hunt, they said.
Much of the concern was about how the #MeToo movement would hurt men, make them uncomfortable or threaten their positions of power, but the problem with the witch hunt accusation is that the witches burned at Salem were innocent.
And now, the same can no longer be said of the man at the center of the reporting that kicked this all off.
In Manhattan on Monday morning, the jury in the criminal trial of Harvey Weinstein delivered their verdict: Weinstein is guilty on two counts, criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. For now, Weinstein will remain in jail until his sentencing, which carries a minimum of five years and a maximum of 25 years in prison, on March 11.
Weinstein also faces four charges of sexual assault in Los Angeles County, where he may face additional jail time, so this process is far from over.
The brave women who testified against Weinstein: Annabella Sciorra, Mimi Haleyi, Jessica Mann, Dawn Dunning, Lauren Young, and Tarale Wulff.
For now, though, it is important to remember where this all started. Some dogged reporters had to persevere against threats and intimidation to break the story, one which had evaded several reporters prior, of widespread abuse and misconduct at one of the most powerful film companies in America. Women like Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd had to agree to go on the record about how Weinstein had assaulted them, despite also facing threats to their careers. It took the hard work and endurance of activists, particularly Tarana Burke, to push for a world where any of this was even possible. Millions of women, along with some men, had to stand up and share their own stories.
Just for the conviction of Harvey Weinstein, six women had to testify in court and undergo cross-examination from Weinstein’s attorneys: Annabella Sciorra, Mimi Haleyi, Jessica Mann, Dawn Dunning, Lauren Young, and Tarale Wulff.
This is nowhere even close to justice, but it matters. It is meaningful that Weinstein’s crimes are no longer “alleged,” that he was found guilty and will serve jail time. It is important that the movement has brought some accountability to the man who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 100 women. But it is still important to keep in mind that this is not the end.
It is a victory, yes, but it must be one in a long line of achievements to create a world in which women’s bodies are no longer controlled or abused by men.
There is still so much work to be done.
Though the systems that enabled men like Harvey Weinstein have been punctured, they still stand. NBC is still led by Noah Oppenheim, who worked to kill Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Weinstein’s misconduct while working at NBC. Cy Vance, who had evidence against Weinstein in 2015 but refused to bring charges, is still the Manhattan District Attorney. The U.S. Constitution still does not recognize women have equal rights to men. Abortion rights are currently and continually being threatened by the extreme conservatives in Congress and on the U.S. Supreme Court.
There is still so much work to be done. May we continue to hold powerful men accountable for their crimes and misdeeds. May we continue to stand together, saying “Me Too,” and watch as the systems that enable abusive, misogynistic men crumble.