Zeroing in on Harvey Weinstein is not Enough
Most of us understand that Harvey Weinstein’s behavior is egregious, but over-standing it would be a whole lot better for zero tolerance to truly occur.
Weinstein and the like prey on our instincts of self preservation. It is how he managed to incredulously get away with sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and actual rape. In his mind, supposedly, the more successful he becomes the more powerful, and the more powerful he becomes the more fearful, and the more fearful he becomes the more exploitative he gets. The exploitation part requires a degree of compliance and complicity in fear of the power and success that acompanies being exploited. The duality of exploitation not only blurs our perspectives, it consequently distorts our senses…
…because it provides social capital, improves our economic empowerment — thus feeding unfettered capitalism. We are conditioned by unfettered capitalism with all of its Horatio Alger stories to be a necessary good, free of flaws, worthy of character, when really we take advantage of each other. The Weinsteins of the world takes advantage of these women via abuse, by misusing their power, while unsuspecting victims try to benefit from companies like these as a resource (and as advertised) to which they can capitalize upon. This promulgates into an insidious societal ill of recurring double-binds.
We all do this without much thought on the ramifications nor do we contemplate enough on how we can constrain it. We simply understand and fail to overstand the consequences.
Overstand is a concept that was introduced to me as conscientious Jamaican terminology or Rastafarian philosophy, the closest online reference unverifiably suggests that it originated with hip hop culture.
The Rastafari philosophy asserts that every man woman and child are equal (hence the term I-n-I) therefore the individual who is receiving the information is equal to the communicator of the information and superior to the idea being communicated. That being said, one should not “understand” or stand under an idea; when they absorb and correctly perceive an idea they “Overstand” it.
The difference between Under and Over standing is the difference between seeing and acting with awareness or blindly playing a role. Understanding does the Job, and maybe even wrote the Business Plan (the person who wrote the business plan may understand how to set up businesses). What distinguishes Over from Under is their awareness of the forces that move things. One who overstands sees power for what it is, but may or may not hold and use power in the obvious sense. One who overstands knows that the business will succeed only if it extracts value from others and so is inherrently predatory. One who overstands this fact may accept it and play anyway or refuse to exploit others.
This extends to the media too. The way I over-stand it is that as unrelenting as Hollywood reporting can be on the famous it is also baffling to see the failure to publicize Weinstein’s malfeasance, unless the media itself has been complicit in its own self-preservation with such deviance. This Observer piece by Ryan Holiday captures the essence of how the media missed this for so long…
Well, the answer is they didn’t miss it. They had the story, they were just too cowardly to publish it. As Sharon Waxman of TheWrap has written, she tried to break the story herself for the New York Times in 2004.
“The paper had a story on mogul’s sexual misconduct back in 2004 — but gutted it under pressure…I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.”
And yet it’s also worth pointing out that Waxman has run her own site since 2009 and not broken the story there either, saying that she had been too focused on “raising money, building a website and starting a media company.” “Bravo to the NYT reporters for publishing the story we all tried to get for decades,” tweeted the co-editor-in-chief of Variety. Tried? Really? Because you’ve covered the guy quite a few times in those decades. Take the now breaking story that David Boies, a lawyer who has represented The Weinstein Company, made a donation to NY District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s campaign after the DA dropped the 2015 sexual assault charges against Weinstein. (Vance’s office has said that Boies was not representing Weinstein in the investigation at the time.) Is this newly available public campaign finance data? Not at all. So where was Variety or the New York Times or The Intercept or any other media outlet on that story? Right. Not there. The New York Post definitely wasn’t there. In fact, in a 2015 article about that groping allegation, the Post had the classlessness to refer to the professional model who accused Weinstein of reaching up her skirt and grabbing her breast (a claim he only partly denied on the phone with the DA) not by her name, but as “the hottie.” (One New York paper, The New York Daily News, did do a cover story on a Weinstein accuser in 2015.)
To add to your noble suggestion Caleb we need to remove the threat of all the current and would-be “Weinsteins” altogether as a humanitarian effort of self preservation by overstanding the situation for what it is.