WEINSTEIN, EPSTEIN AND AILES
Weinstein. Epstein. Ailes. These names, along with many other once powerful and revered names, have gained a new reputation in the past year. Women have begun fighting for their voice to be heard, even above the fame and power the most influential men might hold in America. But what about the women who aren’t testifying? Are they always marching with the accusers? Will they stand by them no matter what? Donna Rotunno, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, stands on the furthest side of the spectrum, almost praising Harvey and condemning the women testifying in court.
Many people view Weinstein’s use of a woman for his lawyer as a powerful and brilliant scheme. Some see it as plain evil, a woman turning against her own. Still others see his employment of her as proof that he is innocent: why would a man who abused so many women hire another woman to work for him?
Weintein is not Rutonno’s first sexual assault client. In fact, she told Vanity Fair that her presence in this case came as no surprise at all to her. She often defends those accused of the worst crimes, making her presence in the courtroom almost as evil a force as the defendant himself.
But she might not actually be evil. She might believe him. She might be doing what she thinks is right. Weinstein’s lawyer is not blind to the effect her presence has on the court. Rutonno has often confessed that female lawyers are able to prosecute more intensely without being viewed as “bullies” like men. Her statement shows that men are often generalized and categorized as aggressive, while women doing the exact same thing are not.
Weinstein was not the only man to employ a woman to help him in his acts. Epstein employed his closest friend, Ghislaine Maxwell, to be in his corner and allow him to do his evil acts. Maxwell considered herself a close friend, and even sometimes a lover to Jeffrey Epstein, but she was so much more important than those roles.
Maxwell was the woman in charge of procuring the girls for Epstein’s sexual pleasure, forming the pyramid scheme in which the girls would find more girls, and even participating in the sexual acts with Epstein and the underage girls. The never-ending cycle caused women to turn on women, as well as trust and innocence to be lost, and it seemed to start with Maxwell.
The innocents could not get out of this employment. Epstein used his power and money to manipulate the law and authorities. His henchmen were hired to follow 14-year-old girls around, looking for them to report his actions, and then immediately silencing the source. The women were bound to a contract for life.
While no one could say, as they might be able to say as easily with Donna Rotunno, that Maxwell believed that Epstein was “right” or “wrong,” she did seem to view him in high regard and make ways to promote and encourage his acts. Many considered that Maxwell was blinded by love, money, or even her own sexual desires that aligned with Jeffrey’s as the reason why she played such a manipulative role in his crimes, but she betrayed other women to do her work.
In contrast to Rotunno, Maxwell was actually doing something wrong and illegal, whether she believed it or not. She was in the wrong, but she might have fully convinced herself that her actions were right.
The recently released movie Bombshell (2019) depicts yet another sexual assault case that happened recently in America. The events that happened at Fox News are shown, as well as the women’s reactions in the office. The power of this movie comes in the form of the women speaking up for their fellow woman and bonding over the shared sexual-assault experience. At first, the women wouldn’t stand up to the network out of fear for the people running the company and the damage it would do to their careers, but one by one, they began to speak up about the horrible actions done to them.
Gretchen Carlson, a former reporter at Fox News, spoke up about the way in which her producer, Roger Ailes, had been sexually manipulating not only her, but also other women. She described instances in which he promised monetary raises, television shows, and other careers in exchange for sex. The promise of material gain is an alluring one that was also used by Weinstein, another big name in Hollywood and producing. After Carlson stood alone for some time, she not only damaged her career, but created a court case that soon fizzled out.
Finally, at the turning point in the movie and history, women began to speak up and side with her, showing the detrimental effects that Ailes and other big names at Fox News had had on them. They discussed sexual passes at them; a requested dress code of tight, short dresses; and glass tables for audiences of their shows to better view their long, tanned legs The case went on and the women got their vengeance, but only because they stood together.
Looking at three cases of women and three cases of men, is there always a right and a wrong side? Is something so horrible as sexual assault something which can be argued, or is it best to just say “guilty” no matter what? Should women stand by other women regardless of if they have suffered in the same way that those did in Bombshell, or should they serve who their heart believes?
There is no black and white answer. Every case is different. Just because a case has “sexual assault” printed all over it does not mean the defendant is guilty. We need to be prudent in making snap decisions based on the ugly words that have now become so familiar to society. On the other hand, we need to understand that sexual exploitation is something very real that many struggle with, and we need to be cautious about that. Today’s society needs to seek the truth and only the truth, regardless of what the rest of the world says.