The New York Times recently exposed Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct and harassment of women. On the outside, Weinstein seemed to be a strong supporter of women. His company brought us The Hunting Ground, a documentary that warns us about sexual predators on college campuses. He offered a $5 million endowment for female filmmakers to the University of Southern California Cinematic Arts Department and marched in a parade for women at Sundance. But for all of his public gestures, inner Hollywood circles knew him by a different reputation. Light was shed on decades of coverups and settlements. The lesson here? Don’t look to the men who have the power, influence, and attention. Other men are fighting in the trenches to make a difference. This is Harvey Weinstein Versus the True, Unsung Heroes.
Harvey Weinstein blames time on his behavior. “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.” Harvey wrote in a statement. “That was the culture then.” A decade is an excuse? Haven’t we moved past the “Mad Men” era? I know too many gentlemen like my own father who came from these decades and share nothing in common with this person. But we don’t often hear from these men because their actions aren’t publicity stunts.
A couple of weekends ago, I attended a fundraising gala for Saving Innocence, a nonprofit dedicated to stopping commercial sexual exploitation of children. Southern California is one of many problematic areas in the US and is also a hub for sex trafficking. The most powerful part of the evening was when the LAPD sex trafficking task force came on stage: 5 men and 1 woman devoted to protecting young girls from predators.
I can’t imagine these men joined the task force to make money. They are unsung heroes who have chosen to devote their lives to defending, honoring, and helping to bring a sense of worth to women and children. This is what defines chivalry…and it’s not dead.
Sexual harassment and deviances originated with men, so men can also put an end to it. We need more men who are willing to stand up and say NO MORE. As I wrote in Black Tie, “The answer to the problem shouldn’t lie on women’s shoulders.”
Here are a few simple ways men can shoulder the problem and make a difference in the world:
Stop watching porn.
Take some time and educate yourselves on the damage of pornography. What starts in the mind ends in action. Objectification becomes normalized. Stand up and fight against any form of commercial sexual exploitation.
Stop glorifying perverts as epitomes of manhood.
Until really dark secrets come to light, many men look up to the glamorized lives of people like Harvey Weinstein and Hugh Hefner. Both of these men bragged about the numbers of women they’ve slept with. Why? Because they knew it demonstrated how powerful they were as men. Glorifying these men only perpetuates the problem.
Hold friends accountable.
I’m reminded by the quote, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” In this case, evil triumphed for decades.
We know Harvey Weinstein did not act alone. Assistants set up meetings in hotel rooms for him. Enablers surrounded him. Do you think one of these people would’ve set up a meeting between Harvey and their mother or sister? Which brings me to this…
Make this issue your own.
These women who Weinstein’s actions affected, the young girls who are being passed around at the age of 13…they aren’t strangers or nobodies. They are sisters and mothers. My wife and I have discussed staying in Los Angeles if our daughter eventually wants to pursue anything entertainment related, but I’m alarmed by what I now know. The issue hits a lot closer to home. But nowhere is safe for girls. No campus is safe. No job site is safe until…”Good guys take a stand. Good Guys take action. Good guys protect.”