How to fight back against "power pervs"

Advice from lawyer Carrie Goldberg on "Inflection Point," about the power dynamics of sexual harassment and abuse

Published October 26, 2017 6:59PM (EDT)

Harvey Weinstein (AP/Chris Pizzello)
Harvey Weinstein (AP/Chris Pizzello)

Bill Cosby. Roger Ailes. Bill O’Reilly. And now, Harvey Weinstein. And there’s a good chance by the time this post goes live, hundreds of women will have come forward with allegations that more men in powerful positions are sexual predators.

Women have had to endure the unwanted sexual advances and twisted power plays of insecure, narcissistic men since the dawn of time, and we’ve mostly stayed silent, grinned and bore it or only discussed it among ourselves. But over the past 12 months, it has felt like a new conversation is starting to happen, hasn’t it?

Fifty-nine women broke the ice with their stories about Bill Cosby, including allegations of rape, drugging and sexual assault. Yet their words weren’t enough to convince a jury. After all, it was their words against the word of America’s Dad.

Then former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson came forward to expose Fox News CEO and Trump campaign adviser Roger Ailes. At least he got fired. But it was only after Fox smeared Carlson, and only after an additional 25 women backed up Carlson’s claims.

Really? Twenty-five accusers had to say “this man abused his power in the worst possible way” for his company to take any action? Wouldn’t, I don’t know, one have been enough for them to at least have looked into it?

And they not only got away with it for decades, but they somehow convinced people that the women are the bad guys.

Then there was Donald Trump. Remember when, as a presidential candidate, we heard him proudly brag, “when you’re famous, they let you do it, you can do anything.” We know how that turned out.

Earlier this year, at least five women came forward to say Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed them, and he paid millions upon millions to buy his accusers’ silence. Didn’t work. They still spoke out. He and Fox “parted ways.” People not only continue to defend him, they put him at the top of The New York Times Bestseller list.

Four men who have been accused of abusing women, the extent of which included but was not limited to drugging, raping, coercing them under threat into performing sexual favors, masturbating at them, verbally abusing them and denying them promotions when they refused to comply with sexual demands, among other allegations.

And now we have Harvey Weinstein. We can’t even begin to count how many more women may come forward alleging he harassed or abused them — the news cycle is too fresh and new women are coming forward every day. But Weinstein may have Cosby, Ailes and O’Reilly beat.

How many women have to speak out before all of this stops?

And how can we keep the momentum of this conversation going so this moment, this one, right now, is the turning point when the world says ENOUGH?

I needed to get some perspective on this, so I invited sexual consent and internet abuse lawyer Carrie Goldberg to talk with me on my podcast "Inflection Point," about what it might take to stop this for good.

Listen to our conversation on the Weinstein case, the complicity of Hollywood in protecting and enabling these, as she calls them, “power pervs,” and how we can fight back.

By Lauren Schiller

Lauren Schiller is the creator and host of Inflection Point, a podcast and public radio show from KALW and PRX featuring stories of how women rise up. For more rising up stories, follow Lauren on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast on Android or Apple.

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