During Sunday’s Golden Globes gala, one name echoed silently: Harvey Weinstein, the film producer accused by over eighty women of rape, assault, and sexual abuse, over the course of thirty years.
Just two years ago, at the same event, women painted the red carpet black in support of the victims of one of the greatest sexual predators in the history of the film industry.
But while Ricky Gervais was breaking protocol and making the boldest jokes in his repertoire, Weinstein was preparing for his first day in court to face the charges.
After decades of being the talk of the town in Hollywood, New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey released a story on Oct. 5, 2017, with substantial allegations of all kinds of sexual misconduct by the producer against dozens of women over a 30-year period.
Actresses such as Lysette Anthony, Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, and Kate Beckinsale, as well as producers, directors, comedians, and TV presenters, added up to more than eighty allegations against Weinstein, who, while initially apologizing for “causing a lot of pain,” later denied all the allegations.
Only days after the story was published in the Times, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was preparing a warrant for the arrest of the producer for violation of Paz de la Huerta.
Seven months later, lawyers in the same city, accused Weinstein of rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse, and sexual misconduct.
The Weinstein Company, the company founded by Weinstein and his brother, lost collaborations with TWX, Apple, Hachette, Amazon, and other companies, and the producer was expelled from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the Producers Guild of America (PGA), and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS).
The direct consequences of the accusations triggered an international movement that brought to the table the culture of predation and sexual violence that sustains the country’s leading companies, and is now known as the “Weinstein effect.”
Two years later, the effect is still there — for better and for worse.
A 2018 study showed that, after the #MeToo movement, 21% of men in positions of power “said they were reluctant to hire women for jobs involving close interpersonal interactions with men,” and 27% said “they avoided one-on-one meetings with women,” as reported by CNBC.
Vice President Mike Pence himself has publicly said that he refuses to eat with a woman alone “unless his wife is present.”
It seems then that, before creating a change of consciousness in the male community, the Weinstein effect could harm women in the workforce even more, without really solving the issue at its root.
In China, for example, men’s response to the #MeToo movement has been to violently “fight back” with defamation lawsuits, to the point that many women prefer to remain silent rather than confront their aggressors.
So what has changed since Harvey Weinstein was made accountable?
While it’s true that after the #MeToo movement several states have passed laws prohibiting the use of nondisclosure agreements in sexual misconduct cases, as Vox explained, the real change has been the assessment of the dimension of power.
Just this year, a performance originating in Chile went around the world, putting women blindfolded to point out their rapists, with the same restrained anger that seems to never run out.
One way or another, and whatever the outcome of Harvey Weinstein’s trial may be, the world is still far from being a safe place for everyone.