Weinstein, left, in coversation with Steven GätjenWikimedia Commons: zff2012

Open any newspaper (now, including this one), and the furore surrounding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct is impossible to miss. He is a storybook villain: a putrescent soul who, knowing he had the power to make or wreck the careers of up-and-comers in his business, abused his position to molest them. Nevertheless, this case has tragically taken nearly two decades to come into the public consciousness. What this shows us, then, is that we must work together as a society to build an atmosphere where women feel that they can speak out against sexual assault, and, crucially, be believed. For me, and for countless others just like me, the revelations and their context carry particular gravitas. They lead me to admit a fact I never thought I’d make known even to my closest friends, let alone in a public forum. When I was 18 years old, I was raped. 

"He is a storybook villain: a putrescent soul who, knowing he had the power to make or wreck the careers of up-and-comers in his business, abused his position to molest them"

Just like – I'm sure – many of the women trapped in the Weinstein case, I fell down the rabbit hole of believing that the incident was somehow my fault. I must have been ‘asking for it’, in the same way so many rape survivors are often accused of doing, including by the authority figures who are supposed to protect us. The severity of this violation meant my wellbeing was difficult to salvage. I’d regularly wake up sweating from nightmares. Self-directed accusations of being a slut permeated my daily life, and without even realising it, my relationships. From their own accounts, the young women who Harvey Weinstein damaged have been feeling the same way, as have many of our friends and peers – many whose stories still go untold.

Indeed, extended silence is something I can relate to. For the two years that followed, and up until four months ago, I was essentially selectively mute on the topic. Even then, when I told my family and a couple of close friends about the incident, I still felt at best like an imposter, and at worst an outright liar. In this context, I am not alone. In fact, many of the women abused by Weinstein share these terrible feelings. For false rape accusations loom large in the cultural imagination. Whilst research suggests that only between two to ten percent of rape allegations are false, over 50 percent of those cases reported to the authorities are treated as being fabricated. These are huge discrepancies which reveal a heartbreaking moral blind spot that society must tackle. The consequences are too great not to.

Given this appalling dissonance, the women who fought back against Weinstein’s raw intimidation should be wholeheartedly supported and commended. I sometimes wish I had been so valiant. In my own case, I decided at such an early stage that I bore responsibility for my abuse, and chose not to speak out. With hindsight, I was wrong. In my silence, I cast the man who abused me into an outsized lead role in my own life’s narrative, just as Weinstein assumed in so many of his victim's lives. It is this context, then, that leads me to believe that somehow women must be brave enough to speak sooner. If we don’t, we run the risk of giving undue power to these men, of which Weinstein is a prime example.

However, the conditions in which we feel brave enough must be created. Weinstein’s abuses were allowed to continue for far too long. A society that effectively muzzles women by almost immediately labelling them liars enables exploitation, even at the highest levels of organisations and society; Weinstein was, after all, one-time king of Hollywood.

What proves critical is that this is a question of principles, and not of outcomes. In the notorious Brock Turner case, it has been stipulated that because he only served three months in prison, the ‘verdict’ was wasted. While I vehemently believe that his time in jail and sentence should have been longer, it is – at this stage at least – the fact that he was taken to court and penalised that counts, and that his victim was believed and listened to. All of us must do better at teaching our daughters true empowerment, and creating an environment in which they feel they can speak up against injustice.


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Our culture that seldom confronts, even celebrates, and all-too frequently forgives the behaviour of abusers cannot be allowed to endure. It is the work of a morally sentient humanity to prevent sexual miscreants from taking over the savannah. Weinstein’s case serves as a reminder that belated indictment, brought about by women feeling they can't come forward, does too much to acquit accomplices and abusers alike. We must transform this society which never gave him a reason to change, to the benefit of women like me, and like his. Two years or twenty, both are too long to go voiceless

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