Harvey Weinstein and the wages of the Nuts & Sluts Defense

When a story as well-known to people “in the know” as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s predatory sexual behavior towards women under his power comes to light, the inevitable questions are “why did it take so long” and “why now?”

Weinstein’s accusers and antagonists were dogged, but they were no less so 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. One obvious answer, suggested by Rebecca Traister in a widely-circulated column and others like Ross Douthat, is that Weinstein has lost enough of his clout in Hollywood that it’s finally safe to call him out (a dynamic that’s hardly unique to Weinstein). Douthat’s masterful 2014 column on the nature of sexual abuse and how it thrives wherever people have unquestioned power and authority remains the gold standard on this issue. (Douthat’s reference then to “Hollywood and the wider culture industry” as “still the great undiscovered country of sexual exploitation, I suspect” seems prescient now). Another is simply that sexual mores have changed. But I think we are missing an important element.

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