Let’s call it what it is.

October 18, 2017

Harvey Weinstein is a rapist.  The fact that his coercion was socio-economic instead of physical does not change the fact that the women who were his victims; a)felt fear, b)had to submit or face the consequences, c)were either powerless in some sense or were forced to feel powerless to the point of questioning their very sense of self as result of the debasement to which they were subjected.

That money and power gave a predatory bastard the freedom to commit his crimes with some sense of impunity (and that his board of directors authorized hush money payouts) doesn’t make them any less crimes.  It just means he didn’t have to use physical violence.  That lack of money and power kept some people from committing acts like these doesn’t mean they aren’t predatory bastards at heart.

But mental, emotional and psychic violence are still violence.

Privileged people seem to believe they have a right to subjugate those less privileged.  That a movie mogul has access to a non-ending stream of young actors (regardless of gender, because I am sure Weinstein could have been preying on young men if that were his preference) and the power to make or break careers perhaps allowed Weinstein to believe that compliance actually connoted consent.  But consent under duress is at best acquiescence  and at worst silence in the face of being forced.

There is a broader question of power being played out on a bigger stage as well.  Whether being forced under the dick of a prick like Weinstein or being forced under the boot of a heel like Jerry Jones, whose football playing employees are being told ‘tow the line of hypocritical, jingoistic flag saluting or lose your income’, the powerful extract compliance from those over whom they have power.

I have been thinking about the word hegemony

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hegemony

and specifically cultural hegemony

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_hegemony

The culture is filled with markers to let you know that if you are a woman, a person of color, a person in dissent, an immigrant, a person who worships in just about any manner outside of Protestantism, you better be submissive.  You better take your lot as doled out.  The culture does everything it can to build in the masses a literal desire to become the object of subjugation.  The culture builds the consumer, the economic striver, the assimilated, the self objectifying and historically ignorant players in the sham theater of the American Dream.  The spirit of American individualism, is a meme that functions like self replicating DNA imbued with a myth of self reliance that actually perpetuates a type of isolation that enables the ruling class to keeps us at odds with each other and never see behind the curtain and notice that our strings a being pulled.

Women who have been victims of rape and domestic violence and other predations are bullied into silence by shame and fear.  And what is pernicious is that no one had to tell them to feel shame and fear, they had already internalized a world view from the culture that surrounds them.  Maybe with thoughts like ‘I must of have done something to provoke this behavior’, or ‘If I say something I will look like bad’, or ‘I better not say anything or I won’t be able to work in my profession’, or ‘it will be my word against his’.

Men have also bought into a prevailing cultural set of norms, some are unwitting hegemonists, some have simply adopted frat boy personae and behaviors that they think make them part of the club.  Sadly, they aren’t thinking.  There is some degree to which racism is similar.  It doesn’t take more than a cursory review of the news, recent history or moral circumspection to come to the conclusion that institutional racism is a fact in America.  Human dignity and equality should be a given and it is not.  Any view that I am better than anyone else or have right to have my way (socially, economically, sexually, politically) as a result of my gender, race, nationality, wealth, religion etc. is retrograde and ridiculous.

Finally, and I hope you read to this point, as a white man, I know I have adopted some of the mind set that comes with privilege.  I have been in the workforce for forty years and on the planet for almost sixty.  I am sure I have done and said things that were sexist, racist and inappropriate.  I hope it never rose to the level of harassment but I am sure at the very least it has been insensitive or worse.  For that I ask your forgiveness.

This is not ironic!

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