Of Women & Power

Harvey Weinstein is a lusty old goat, if we can believe reports in our tabloid media. The number of Hollywood starlets who have come forward with accusations against him is impressive. Among dirty old men, he seems to have been remarkably successful.

Before considering the moral aspect of his case, I should like to pause in awe. What was his secret? From the photographs he does not look that alluring. But who am I to judge?

I’m a man, after all, with heterosexual tendencies; perhaps I have missed some aspect of his charm. Speaking only for myself, I’m sure I’d get nowhere trying to grope Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie – or anyone else on the A-list I’ve just Googled from the Los Angeles Times. Not even when they were “fledgling” actresses (or “actors” in the current unisex parlance).

Of course, you can’t know unless you try, as a Lothario of my acquaintance once explained. But he added that groping is a fool’s game. It never works unless (as Donald Trump once also explained) you have a tremendous amount of money. He (the other Lothario, not Trump) said the lower-budget trick was rather to hit on feminists exclusively. Arouse them by playing the male chauvinist pig, then go “sensitive” at just the right moment. They fall into your arms, he assured me.

I’d not have taken this gentleman seriously were he not so obviously successful.

So did Weinstein have the right timing? He doesn’t look smart enough. Plus, he is on record for saying only the “correct” things about liberated women. Surely they would see right through his imposture.

Being Marlon Brando didn’t help, either, according to a movie-star anecdote I have picked up somewhere. He is said to have groped Sophia Loren, during a film shoot many years ago. She set him straight crisply. By the time she was finished with him, the megastar was reduced to a whipped little boy. He behaved much better to everyone on set, after this humiliation.

Now, this Dama di Gran Croce is a real woman, in my estimation, not a Hollywood tart. After learning of this offstage performance with Brando, I could only cry, “Brava!” Put the little creature in his place!

Harvey Weinstein

Did anyone ever do that with Weinstein, I wonder? I want to read the story. But the lady who might know it would be too graceful to come forward; and besides, she probably got nowhere in Hollywood.

For we come to a point publicly acknowledged by all those condemning Weinstein now. It was the secret of his charisma. He had the power to make or break careers, the keys to the padlock of fame, and all the money that blows out once that door is opened.

He had, and presumably still has, till the lawyers are done with him, quite a lot of spare money, too. I deduce this from the huge amounts he gave to the Clintons, the Obamas, the Democrats generally, and all their celebrated progressive causes. He was, before he went into “sex addiction” therapy (i.e. hiding) a man you needed to keep onside, to make your way through Glitterville.

Gentle reader will notice that I have not put on the airs of offended innocence, assumed by all those glitterati on Twitter. I cannot bring myself to declare how shocked I am at the hypocrisy of the man. This is because I am not shocked. No Catholic should be.

Behavior like Weinstein’s is commonplace. I’ve seen it before. In my own humble world, I’ve seen it even from seedy university professors, whose only legal tender is course marks. And among the more modestly rich. I’m even familiar with their smugness, for the vanity of a man will easily persuade him that he has animal magnetism, when really he has something else.

There was an item that flashed by one of the news aggregators about an octogenarian who had just won millions in a lottery, and as a bonus, the hand of some twenty-something blonde. It came with a picture of them kissing: she looked so in-love.

It can be more subtle than that, as I recall from my distant youth. One lays siege to a rather prim young belle, who disapproves one’s every gauchely forward attempt to protest one’s devotion. Then the last you see of her is on the back of some glittering motorbike, off to San Francisco for the summer of love.

The lesson is to get a bigger bike. Or, develop a better taste in women.

Truth to tell, by my own grand age, I am not even surprised by the behavior of the women, lining up for a good kick at Weinstein, now that he is down. They missed their chance at his ankles when he was on his feet. Some even claim to have been raped, but were too shy to scream at the time. By declaring their victimhood now, they get to collect from Weinstein twice.

Let me not judge them. They’ll have trouble enough later on. My only complaint will be against a world that is willing to listen to their whining. The argument that a lady could not reject the man’s advances because he was in “a position of power,” and could possibly have nixed their careers, is, after all, a defense of prostitution.

The concept of “rape” itself, as of “sexual assault,” has become impossibly murky. When it was possible for a woman to value her chastity more than her life, these were grievous crimes. When the issue is reduced to career advancement, the punishment becomes arbitrary. And when it is imposed with the help of a mob through social media, we are in the never-never land.

I have heard so much about the empowerment of women. I note, that the woman who doesn’t need a career in Hollywood has real power. Someone who won’t “take it” from anyone; a woman like Sophia Loren.

David Warren

David Warren

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: davidwarrenonline.com.

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