p.p1 of sexism, misogyny, and gender inequalityp.p1 of sexism, misogyny, and gender inequality

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The subject that I have chosen for this essay is Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein is a former movie producer for Miramax and concert promoter who has been accused of rape, sexual assault, and sexually harassment by 83 women in total. Women that he raped and tried to force to have sex with include actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Lisa Rose, and Rose McGowan, just to name a few. Weinstein will go on trial soon in response to some of these rape allegations (Rutenberg and Eber 1-2). The Weinstein case brings up the issues of gender inequality and sexism, ideas, and cultural frameworks that have existed and continued to survive since the beginning of time. The actions of Weinstein have been able to perpetuate over the years, due to the concepts of sexism, misogyny, and gender inequality being supported and unchallenged by many individuals in society. 
After taking this course, I see Weinstein as a sexual predator with white privilege. He has been able to sexually assault so many women over several decades, due to the unwritten cultural rule that white men in positions of power can do what they want to women, who are automatically deemed the inferior gender. I also see how sexism and misogyny, which is the hatred of women (Johnson 67 ) has supported and allowed criminal actions, such as behavior performed by Weinstein, to perpetuate. If that was not the case, Weinstein would not have been able to get away with his predatory behavior for so long. The culture of Hollywood in America has been that for women to get acting jobs in movies, they sometimes have to perform unwanted sexual acts for men in charge, so that they can get the movie roles that they want. 
In Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein served as a sign of power and a way for actors and actresses to get Hollywood roles. Anyone interested in a Hollywood career and who crossed his path career wise knew that getting into Weinstein’s good graces meant a possible lucrative career. Weinstein’s Miramax movie production symbol was a sign of success and making it big in the film world. Weinstein’s films, such as “Shakespeare in Love” “Gangs of New York” and “Good Will Hunting” were all hits. Weinstein seemed to have a knack for producing movies that attracted movie goers and that made much money. This skill helped elevate his social status in Hollywood. 
Somehow, due to Weinstein’s success, a secret code in the film business was developed. From the actors and actresses, production assistants, and staff members that worked with Harvey Weinstein, this code was that whatever the movie mogul wanted, he got. The other code is that if you saw Weinstein act inappropriately with a woman, you did not say anything; in fact, you helped him set up the environment where he could force himself on a woman sexually if he asked. This was the case many times, as women staff assistants would attend a meeting with Weinstein and another actress to make the actress feel comfortable and safe. Then, the staff person would leave early, so that Weinstein could sexually assault her. Anyone who went against this code was fired or blacklisted in Hollywood. The subtle code was that nobody said no to Harvey (Moniuszko and Kelly) (Rutenberg and Eber).
The code that Weinstein seemed to possess is that women exist for the pleasure of men and females are not to be valued and respected. Another code is that a man who is in a position of power and is looked upon by others as being highly successful should use this power to manipulate and sexually assault women. To Weinstein, raping women was acceptable, due to him giving many of these women Hollywood roles, in exchange for Weinstein being allowed to gain sexual pleasure from women.  Weinstein’s worldview is that he should do anything in his power to make sure that his sexual needs are satisfied. 
It is probable that this worldview of Weinstein’s may have been instilled in him as a young child or teenager. His brother Bob was also accused of sexual harassment by some women. In terms of meaning, it is obvious that Weinstein obtains some meaning via his sexual actions and that showing that he is in charge and in the power position. In terms of sex, Weinstein seems to believe that sex is an important urge that needs to be satisfied, which is a denotative meaning (Rutenberg and Eber 1-2).
However, Weinstein’s illegal behavior also shows that he placed several denotative meanings on sex, how one obtains sex, and the women that he has inflicted sex upon during the past few decades. Weinstein’s attitude seems to be that any sexual advance is something that should automatically be accepted by a woman, regardless of whether the woman wants to have sex or does not want to have sex. The movie producer also feels that sex is basically for a man and that physically or emotionally coercing a woman into having sex with him is okay. Requesting the help of other people to help him achieve his goal of having sex at all costs is also another meaning that many people in the Hollywood world have done. Being encouraged by other people to not report Weinstein is another way that people helped the mogul to continue his predatory behavior. 
Weinstein also holds the attitude and belief that any woman who reports his behavior or denied his sexual advances deserves to get threatened and berated with warnings about actresses’ career being ruined. This is evident in an article by (Moniuszko and Kelly 1) that discusses how Weinstein treated Rosanna Arquette after she refused his sexual advances, which is evident in the passage, “She says the producer told her she was making a big mistake by rejecting him and claims he has made things very difficult for (her) for years” (Moniuszko and Kelly 1). 
The connotative meaning is that any reports of rape on his part can be “fixed” and “handled” with manipulation. Payoffs were also something that Weinstein did to keep women quiet about their sexual assault and harassment claims. Zelda Perkins, an assistant for the movie producer, was subjected to sexual harassment almost every day from Weinstein. Perkins and another female worker that he assaulted were paid over $300,000 in exchange for keeping quiet and not reporting him to police (Moniuszko and Kelly 2). 
What Weinstein did and how his behavior was allowed to continue for so long is like the case of comedian and actor Bill Cosby, who used his power and position to rape and drug women. According to Barbara Bowen, who alleged that she was drugged and raped by Bill Cosby, the comedian’s behavior was well-known in Hollywood, and was only considered after a male comedian discussed Cosby’s behavior in a comedy act. Hannibal Buress referred to the actor as a rapist, and after that what Cosby was doing to women started to be investigated (Bowman 1).
Bowman informed her agent what had happened to her, but nothing was done about it. Even an attorney did not believe that Bill Cosby had raped her. This is explained in the following passage of “A girlfriend took me to a lawyer, but he accused me of making the story up. Their dismissive responses crushed any hope I had of getting help; I was convinced no one would listen to me” (Bowman 2 ). Bowman said that the lack of support stopped her from filing charges against Cosby and contacting the police (Bowman 3). 
Unfortunately, the image that Bill Cosby had created for himself was a decent, wholesome person. He played the beloved television dad of Heathcliff Huxtable. Therefore, many people and fans could not fathom that the guy who played Dr. Huxtable could rape someone. When Cosby went on trial, the jury could not come to a consensus and it was declared a mistrial (Bowman 3). 
The interesting thing is that the culture and signs and symbols of Hollywood being a place where men in power can take advantage and rape women in exchange for giving them film roles is changing. Any type of sexual harassment by celebrity men in television and film is being taken seriously. These men are being fired for their bad behavior. In the last two months, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Kevin Spacey have all been fired, due to allegations that these celebrities have sexually harassed and assaulted men and women. 
A very good sign that long-standing traditions of sexism and misogyny are being challenged is the decision of TIME magazine to put the “Silence Breakers,” the women who spoke up about men sexually assaulting them, on the cover of their publication. These women were given the title of person of the year. This shows that the world is shifting, in terms of accepting sexism, that men in power can rape women in exchange for helping them with their careers, and that men in positions of power should not be challenged. TIME put pictures of Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, and Tarana Burke on the cover, who have all been victims of sexual harassment and assault. The magazine also gave these women a popular platform to tell their story (STEPHANIE ZACHAREK 1). 
One of the things that really imprinted me was the way that signs and symbols seem to be hard to break, once they have been established. However, there seems to be strength in the numbers. The sexual assault cases of Harvey Weinstein that were revealed were probably due to the cases of Bill Cosby raping women that were reported and brought out into the open. When one person steps up, other women feel safe enough to also report their incidents of sexual harassment and assault. Now, after seeing so many men being fired and asked to step down from positions of power, there seems to be a hope that signs, symbols, and meanings attached to men in power has now changed to the following: it not acceptable for men in positions of power to sexual assault and harass women, especially in exchange for giving females roles. It is also not acceptable to get the help of other people to achieve one’s own selfish aim of sexual assault and satisfaction. Finally, women are to be respected and valued as people, and not just a way that males can get their sexual needs fulfilled. 
Although the signs, values, and symbols regarding women in society are changing to reflect healthier and more positive values regarding women, that does not change how Harvey Weinstein has been able to perpetuate his sexism, misogyny, and sexual assault against women in Hollywood. He used his white privilege and power position as a Hollywood producer to force women to have sex with him, in exchange for helping them get into the film business. His assistants and staff helped him rape women by setting up false pretenses and leaving during meetings Weinstein had with these actresses. These women were also encouraged not to report Weinstein and were paid off by him or threatened to keep quiet. Therefore, the following thesis is supported: The actions of Weinstein have been able to perpetuate, due to the concepts of sexism, misogyny, and gender inequality being supported and unchallenged by many individuals in society.

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