Money & Careers

Last Chance, Harvey? Sex and Power in the Workplace

Mr. Allen’s comments remind us that there are many ways that men can assert their power over women, and saying that the Weinstein allegations will make men uncomfortable with flirtation sends exactly the wrong message about this issue. He reminds us that there is always a danger that some men will try to find a way to limit women’s access and power in the workplace rather than to encourage it.

While women in show business have always been especially vulnerable to the perils of objectification and exploitation, these issues are ubiquitous. Sexual misconduct is just one of many ways that women have traditionally been intimidated and manipulated. There’s a danger that worry about allegations is just one more weapon in the arsenal of the old-boy network that men can use against women. They can’t let us in. We don’t understand the “rules.”

And the rule is, if you are rich enough or powerful enough, you can do whatever you want. Almost exactly a year ago, Trump joked about this with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush, who laughed knowingly. What happened? Billy Bush got fired and Trump got elected President of the United States. Is Harvey Weinstein sitting in a luxury spa in Europe, already plotting his next move?

What can women do to fight back? Our power rests in our ability to speak out, keep the issue on the front pages, and stick together. Actress Alyssa Milano asked Weinstein victims and others to tweet about their experience with assault, and by Monday morning more than 200,000 #metoo tweets were published. Last year, a similar thing happened when the Access Hollywood tape became public.

While it may seem to some that nothing happened, maybe last year’s outcry was one of the things that led journalists to persist in the investigation of the Weinstein story. Ronan Farrow says he initially did his New Yorker story for NBC, which backed out, some say, out of fear of reprisals. Once the Times went public with its story, the New Yorker published Farrow’s even longer and more detailed account, complete with an audio recording of an undercover sting operation with Weinstein caught on tape.

The Manhattan D.A., given the tape by the NYPD, declined to prosecute the powerful Weinstein. We have to keep pushing these crimes to the forefront. Given the bad publicity surrounding Weinstein now, I doubt the D.A. would make the same decision today about him. Let’s hope that Harvey has had his last chance.

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