Analysis by Reporting San Diego
Oct 11, 2017 (San Diego). What do Bill O’Reilly, Travis Kalanick (former CEO of Uber), Bob Filner, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Former President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump have in common? It is not the party or core political ideology. Nor is skin color, or religious beliefs. What they have in common is that at one time all these men had enough power when their sexual assaults were ignored.
One replaced another who was driven from office for doing the same things in Congress he later on engaged in. A few held the careers of young women in their hands. All knew that none would believe the victims. This is the critical point that every time we have one of these scandals happens. It is a metronome.
- The upstanding member of the community has been accused by a woman with ill intentions. The woman usually comes out at the side of a lawyer. In many cases that lawyer specialize in these cases. This does not change if this is a city mayor, a member of Congress, your school principal, a studio magnet. The man has been accused, and the accuser is immediately questioned on her motives or chastity.
- Rumors of more women emerge. The storyline regarding the first woman starts to change. She moves in status from slut to heroic figure. Which is why most of these cases never make it into the open.
- The community knew and we had rumors of this going back decades. In the case of Harvey Weinstein jokes about this even happened during a past Oscars telecast. The case I am the most familiar with, there were rumors in graduate school.
- A few more women come out.
- The damn opens.
- Men accused of these horrible acts rarely understand the behavior was not acceptable. The tape where Weinstein said “I am used to this” is hardly the exception. Or the Trump tape with Billy Bush.
- Men promise to go into therapy. In fact, therapy, and rarely prison, are the predictable end to these stories. Then there is the monetary compensation. They usually end in civil lawsuits or voluntary payouts.
This is a very well known pattern. It is so well known that we are now at the last Act with Weinstein. More women will come out. There are deepening criminal investigations into possible sexual assault and rape charges in two countries. He has gone to therapy and likely does not understand what happened. His power, like most of these men has evaporated.
The wives of these formerly powerful men at times stay by their man (Hillary Clinton, Bill Cosby, Bob Filner, Donald Trump). While others announce their separation, rather publicly (Weinstein). The wives become part of the drama, and are also victimized, not just by their husband’s infidelity, but society at large. Many ask, how could you stay by his side?
Some of the wives do it out of personal ambition. We could argue that both Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton know that leaving the side of the President of the United States could be rather unhelpful for their future and that of their children. So they stay, to protect them. Hardly we could be critical of that.
Hillary had to think of not just her political ambitions; Chelsea was a young teenager. Ivanka has Barron to think about. We have no idea if she has any personal political ambitions. No First Lady will reveal this early in a husband’s term. Many of the wives of the men we listed, they are at the twilight of their lives. So they have to think about that as well. Leaving a husband may separate them from the means to a dignified retirement.
In the case of Georgina Chapman, Weinstein’s wife, she is a model, with a career. When she divorces Weinstein, a good lawyer will be able to get her what she needs from the Weinstein fortune. So in her case, she does not need Weinstein for a career. His influence in her industry is gone. She is running the risk of being black listed, but if anything Hollywood is far more forgiving than other areas of American life.
Some people are predictably making this, not just political, but part of the culture wars. Yes, Hilary Clinton and the Obamas took forever to speak on this issue. Again, this is part of the pattern. It has nothing to do with American partisan politics. We saw it in San Diego with the Filner scandal. The pattern we described above occurred, to a T. and like the rest, it took many women coming forward for the tipping point to be reached.
Watch carefully next time we have a scandal involving a local religious leader. You will notice these patterns. Those who benefit from the influence of their patron, are among the last ones to condemn them. You could even argue that the shock is genuine. However, so is ignoring the river of rumors that accompany these scandals going back decades, at times.
Here is why they tend to surprise us. Yes, there is a war on women. No, it is not just one party. This comes from public perceptions independent of party. Women who have strong opinions and want to get ahead are bitches, or worse, willing to sell out, or get in bed. Men who do the same are go getters and ambitious. Women who accuse powerful men (or any man) of sexual assault are accused of being sluts, not dressing appropriately, and telling lies to protect themselves. In a trial they are as much on trial as the accused. Men are expected to go at it.
The justice system says that chiefly a young man, like Brock Turner, made a mistake. The judge gave him six months for brutally raping a fellow student at Stanford. This is a clear message that boys will be boys.
We might be at the cusp of a cultural change, but until women on average are paid the same as men, and not 70 cents on the dollar (much less if you are black or latina), all this is lip service. Until women can safely go at it, without being called sluts, or whores, we have not changed the culture. Until women are not expected to be chaste while men can demand sex, and other favors for women to advance. Until a woman can go to the authorities and report a crime without the fear of being judged and tried in the court of public opinion, we will continue to live in a second-tier status.
As to rumors. I remember when the Filner scandal started in San Diego. I got a call from my former editor who had some salacious news of a breaking scandal. She was surprised. I was not. Like the Weinstein scandal, I remember my years in graduate school, when rumors abounded about a certain professor. Those rumors in the department went away after he left for Congress. This was in the early 1980s. All these scandals have this as part of the pattern. There is a certain level of polite silence and warnings in the shadows. This is independent of party, or industry. It is about power, and men have a lot of power in our society.
We also were there when he stepped down from the office of Mayor of San Diego. We knew that he still did not understand why what he did was wrong. I doubt Weinstein gets it, or O’Reilly, or any of the men who have been caught. This is the word that matters. Those who have been caught. We live in a society where men can still do this. We might be entering an age of accountability, but until a lot more evidence comes in, I am not ready to say we are there.