by Lisa Hudson
Let me be completely clear: if Harvey Weinstein is guilty of the sexual harassment, assault, and rape claims currently making headlines, he is a pig, a predator, and a criminal. His dirty little secrets should — if everything plays out the way it appears to be playing out — guarantee him some time in an orange jumpsuit. Also, this piece is in no way an attempt to blame the victims who were subjected to Weinstein’s licentious, destructive behavior.
But (unfortunately, there’s a “but”) Weinstein’s aren’t the only dirty little secrets percolating to the surface as this melodrama unfolds. There’s also the obvious secret kept by the women now coming forward — Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, and others, who chose to remain silent. Not just silent for a few weeks or a few months, or even a few years; silent for decades. Silent even after the then-vulnerable, aspiring actresses became some of Hollywood’s most well-known and powerful women.
Again, the following question in no way excuses Weinstein’s behavior. But, why did those secrets remain buried for so long?
Paltrow was 22 years old when her encounter with Weinstein is alleged to have occurred. Since that time, she has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and many other entertainment awards; served as spokesperson for luxury brands; authored several books; and taken charge of a lifestyle company. In 2014, Paltrow appeared on Forbes’ Celebrity 100, as the 89th highest-paid celebrity in the world.
Jolie’s alleged encounter occurred in 1998, when she was 23 years old. Over the course of her career she, too, has earned an Academy Award and multiple Golden Globes, produced and directed multiple projects, and garnered $33 million for her most recent film. Jolie is considered one of the world’s most powerful women, and in 2001 she was named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for her humanitarian work with refugees.
Arquette, whose career successes have not been as abundant as Jolie’s or Paltrow’s, stated her alleged encounter with Weinstein occurred in the early 1990s. The time frame coincides with then 35-year-old Arquette’s role in Pulp Fiction, released by Weinstein’s production company, Miramax, in 1994. She has also produced and directed several projects, one in particular dealing with the pressures women face in the entertainment industry.
The incidents revealed by Paltrow, Jolie, and Arquette took place more than two decades ago. In that period of time, they have collectively amassed vast financial resources, name recognition, and no shortage of success in Hollywood. None of them were beholden to Harvey Weinstein. So, why the deafening silence? Paltrow said in one interview, “I was expected to keep the secret.” One has to ask, “For how long?”
Equally confounding is that these women, and others who continue to come forward, are actively or vocally supportive of the movement to empower women and girls and champion women’s rights — often quite vitriolically. Arquette made an appearance at the Women’s March on Los Angeles in January, empowered in the obligatory pink knit cap — but clearly not empowered enough to speak up about Weinstein.
Paltrow advocates for empowered women almost exclusively through her lifestyle company. In 2015, Paltrow spoke at Variety Magazine’s Power of Women luncheon during which she eloquently related how previous generations of women had to express their power “…in unthreatening ways that were not disruptive,” and then went on to say, “Now the power of women rings quite differently… The fear of how we are perceived is waning and things are being brought into the light.”
In the same speech, Paltrow referenced an interview Ashley Judd had given in Variety Magazine, in which Judd, who has added her name to the list of actresses making allegations against Weinstein, spoke openly about an incident in which a powerful Hollywood executive made untoward advances in a hotel room in the late 1990s. Even two years ago, Judd declined to identify the man about which she was speaking, but it’s now clear it was Weinstein. Judd remained tight-lipped and protected the accused, and yet at the Women’s March on Washington, she disgorged a profanity-laced diatribe after introducing herself, “My name is Ashley Judd, and I am a feminist.” Just not the kind of feminist who would identify a serial sexual predator after nearly two decades of silence.
What Paltrow, Arquette, Jolie, Judd, and others endured at the hands of Weinstein was unacceptable and repugnant. But taking a vow of silence was not a solution to a systemic problem within the industry. As years passed and their power and influence grew, silence was also unacceptable. Coming forward with the truth was something they owed to themselves, to the women who came after them — some of whom are alleged to have succumbed to Weinstein’s advances by force — and to every woman they claim to empower.
Unfortunately, the kept secrets are indicative of the hypocrisy of the Left and the degree to which the liberal community will compromise a cause for their own self-interest, turning the cause into little more than talking points or a publicity stunt — wearing a “Nasty” t-shirt, ranting on stage about inequality and injustice, and then slapping a few hashtags on for good measure. It’s not so much that they care about empowerment as it is fulfilling the role Hollywood liberals have cast themselves as humane and benevolent. It gives them something about which they can feel righteously indignant while racking up name recognition at the same time.
Meanwhile, another young, aspiring actress has just been lured to a hotel room by a rich and powerful sexual predator to talk about a potential project. We all know how that story ends.
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr