Harvey Weinstein has broken the spirits of countless actors, caused lasting trauma in women’s lives and now, in one of the more depressing developments in this already bleak debacle, it appears that he has successfully driven a wedge between the very women who have helped to spearhead the movement against sexual predators like him.
As Caroline O’Donoghue pointed out yesterday, disagreements between disparate factions within the same cause have begun to flare up. Over the weekend, Rose McGowan’s criticism of women’s plans (and Meryl Streep specifically) to wear black to the Golden Globes – in support of victims of sexual assault – caused unease amongst many #MeToo movement supporters, with fellow actor Amber Tamblyn calling McGowan out for “shaming or taunting the movements of other women who are trying to create change”.
This week, the fallout intensified when posters – with the words “She knew” covering the eyes of Meryl Streep in a picture of her and former colleague, Weinstein – began to circulate. They were found in various locations around Hollywood, with one even positioned near the actor’s house in Pasadena, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Attempts to place blame on women previously associated with the disgraced producer began, as The Pool has reported numerous times, almost immediately after the story broke in October. Instead of going after the men who willingly worked with Weinstein despite their likely awareness of his predatory and abusive tendencies, the blame was placed, as per, on the women who were unlucky enough to have to work with the mogul and/or kept schtum about his behaviour.
And yet, despite this, it’s recently felt like more women are determined to band together against the Weinsteins of the world. As the TIME person of the year issue’s cross-industry celebration of victims of sexual assault showed, it was starting to feel like there could be, perhaps for the first time in decades, real, lasting power in women uniting against powerful forces like Weinstein. Finally, the conversation was moving on to the next stage – action, even in the face of legal challenges, and even when Weinstein himself tried in vain to salvage his reputation by negating the harrowing accounts of women who alleged harassment or assault.
Even if Streep had heard about Weinstein, she would not be unlike many of the victims who, well aware of the dire repercussions that vocal victims of sexual assault often face, have opted to refrain from speaking out
Streep herself has been adamant that she wasn’t aware of Weinstein’s behaviour until the news broke, adding in a statement in response to McGowan on Monday that Weinstein “needed us not to know this, because our association with him bought him credibility, an ability to lure young, aspiring women into circumstances where they would be hurt”. But even if Streep had heard about Weinstein, she would not be unlike many others who – well aware of the dire repercussions that those who are vocal about the misconduct of powerful men often face – avoided speaking out.
Which is why it’s such a shame that someone would go out of their way to exploit a situation as painful as this. A situation that, just as things were starting to get going, is now in danger of being overtaken by sexist narratives about the fact that women can’t get along, or that one particular #MeToo advocate’s integrity is more intact than another’s by way of our personal feelings about them.
The last time a large group of women came together in an attempt to get justice for the actions of a prolific sexual predator, very little (apart from a trial that has yet to see Bill Cosby face any real consequences for his actions) happened. Bearing this in mind, now is not the time to let the momentum from this movement falter. Nor is it the time to let the efforts of divisive people – like the person who created this poster – win.