The methods used by powerful sexual predators

The stories of the ghastly behavior of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein are suddenly pouring out like a gusher, revealing someone who is completely beyond the pale. Yeah, yeah, these are just allegations at this point and nothing has been proved but in cases like this, there can be little doubt of his guilt. If even a fraction of the charges against him are established, that would be bad enough.

What is even more disgusting is that this kind of behavior seems to have been an open secret in the film community for a long time. That it could have continued for so long under the radar is only possible if there were a large array of enablers who worked for him to assist him in hiding the facts, and a conspiracy of silence among others who knew what was going on but did not say anything publicly.

How Weinstein obtained this silence reveals the tremendous power that the rich have over the rest of us, not just in the film industry. He used a mixture of intimidation, bribes, and threats. Intimidation because he apparently was someone who is physically big and would get into rages where he would yell and sometimes even throw people who crossed him across the room. The bribes were obvious. As a successful film producer who had a string of Oscar winning films under his belt, he could make and break actors and few dared to speak out against him, even when they were aware of his behavior. Then there are always many people who are awed by the rich and famous and try to ingratiate themselves with them. Weinstein also would buy the rights of books that film industry journalists wrote, with the promise of a potential film, so then they would not want to jeopardize that by writing anything negative about him. And then if all else failed, he had a team of aggressive lawyers who would threaten to sue the pants off anyone who considered writing any negative articles about him. Few people have the resources to fight those legal battles, unless a major publication that has deep pockets decides to take on the challenge.

So why has this story come out now? It likely is because Weinstein is not as successful as he once was and thus has lost some power. He had mastered the art of promoting his films to become Oscar winners but others have cottoned on to those tricks and he no longer wins as many as he once did. People now have other paths to success.

So will these revelations lead to major reforms? I would like to think so but am not sanguine unless a large number of film executives and people in power who did things similar to Weinstein or ignored his behavior are driven out of the industry in disgrace. The money people in the film industry who can finance and produce films tend to be older men, while young, attractive women are the ones that sell films to audiences. This imbalance of power is just ripe for abuse and as long as it lasts, we are likely to see the abuses continue.


  1. says


    Weinstein was a long topic of car discussion yesterday while driving about on errands and I agree with you that the abuses will continue.

    One piece of advice that I have for those starting out in any career—I knew at least three Weinsteins in publishing—is that the abuser’s central power rests in people’s propensity to accept jobs that they aren’t willing to, or simply can’t, walk away from.

    Like tolerating the weird uncle at family gatherings, too many of us don’t want to make waves because the consequences seem, at the time, worse than the abuse.

    I’m not sure how we correct that problem, but until we’re prepared to take the hit, to risk marginalization for our resistance, those in power will be able to just grab us by the pussy whenever they like.


  2. Brian English says

    Weinstein is being portrayed as someting unique, but this is just the bad apple excuse. When there’s asymmetry of power, people get screwed (metaphorically or really). Part of the problem is the whole ‘wow, this guy was doing this, who knew?’ I don’t mean by you Mano, but by the people who were around him all along are now shocked.. Like the parishners at Catholic churches that kids like myself attended were shocked when ‘eccentric’ priests were buggering kids. Or nice guys where giving their wives a bit of a slap for lip. Or whatever. As hyphenman points out, unless we’re (the big we, not just you or I, are prepared to take a hit and call this out, it won’t stop).

    I would like to think so but am not sanguine unless a large number of film executives

    I always thought sanguine meant something else. Not sure, but thought it meant cool, or calm. I must have confused it with sangfroid. Anyway, how did a word derived from the Latin for blood come to mean hopeful? Paging Dr. Carto….Dr. Carto…Also, how did an adjective for heart become a noun for a sugary drink (Cordial)? Dr. Carto….

  3. Mano Singham says


    I had no idea of the blood-associated origins of the word sanguine until you pointed it out. I had always used it in the currently used sense of being hopeful or optimistic.

    Yeah, cartomqncer is definitely needed here.

  4. flex says

    I’m no Cartomancer, but I’ve always liked the way sanguine has two, very different, meanings.

    The original use of he word, and one it still retains today, is ‘bloody’. A battle can be described as a sanguine mess. I’ve occasionally seen bloody noses described as sanguine in literature.

    However, with the four humors theory of medicine, sanguine took on another meaning. The four humours are blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. How the quantities of humours were balanced in a person’s body determined their temperament. For example, an excess of black bile would make someone melancholy. An excess of blood, usually seen as someone being red-faced, was called sanguine. Originally, it simply meant an excess of the blood humour.

    However, from another tradition, people who are red-faced are also seen as people who tell jokes, drink a lot of beer, and laugh a lot. They are seen as having an excess of animal spirits, and optimistic even in the face of danger.

    Which added a second meaning to the word sanguine, that of being hopeful and optimistic.

    So, the reason we use sanguine today for someone who is optimistic dates back to a completely discredited theory of medicine. For what it’s worth, when I say completely discredited I mean by the medical community. There are still people who believe in the four humours theory of medicine. They may not know where it came from, but when looking over websites while writing this comment, I found one which says there are four ‘temperament’ types: Melancholy, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Sanguine. Right out of the medieval four humours theory of medicine.

  5. flex says

    Back to the OP. The revelations of bad behavior due to the disparity of power is really nothing new. Whether it’s the casting couch in Hollywood or the secretaries in Manhattan. What is new is how rapidly these revelations are coming out. Abusers who enjoyed a privileged position for years are now being exposed.

    So why is it happening now?

    I see two possible explanations.
    1. It is more acceptable for people to accuse/charge someone of abusing their power. This may, in fact, be occurring. When we learned about Bill Cosby it was something of a shock, especially as we knew him as a great comedian and always seemed to be friendly, honorable, man. With Harvey Weinstein, on the other hand, it’s easier to believe his abuse of power. After so many other scandals have occurred, another one is generally accepted as true even if all the evidence isn’t there yet.
    2. This may be another reflection of the power of increased communication. The internet can, and does, have anonymous chat rooms where people can learn that the behavior someone like Weinstein exhibited was not against them alone, but was a pattern going back many years. There is strength in numbers, and once the people could exchange notes easily, a lot of the hidden stuff can be exposed.

    Ultimately we might see the erosion of one of the privileges of the powerful. The privilege of being able to shut people up.

  6. says

    He appears to be a pimple of awfulness who was allowed to fester and develop to the point where it was finally worth bursting him. It’s indicative that Ailes and Cosby were too significant or insignificant to touch. For me, the point remains: why would anyone want such power, except to abuse it?

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