“Harvey Weinstein is an American former film producer and convicted sex offender,” the first line of the “Pulp Fiction” creator’s Wikipedia article reads, following his long-awaited New York trial.
At least 36 allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and more follow Harvey Weinstein like bad pennies, pointing to what Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzi calls “a lifetime of abuse towards others, sexual and otherwise,” though USA Today says the court found him only guilty on one count of first-degree sexual assault and one count of third-degree rape.
Weinstein first found himself the target of national rage when dozens of women came forward to lodge complaints against him for varying degrees of sexual abuse in late 2017. This sparked the beginning of the #MeToo movement, a global outcry raising awareness of the commonality and brutality of sexual violence against women that is still ongoing to this day.
The movement resulted in an awe-inspiring wave of justice, with people like Kevin Spacey and Weinstein in Hollywood and three Kentucky representatives being removed and replaced. The New York Times published a list of 201 powerful men who were removed from their positions following allegations, something that the empowerment of the #MeToo phenomenon brought on in force.
However, despite the staggering number of allegations against Weinstein and the scathing remarks of the Assistant DA, the trial resulted in a conviction on only two out of five charges. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison March 11.
Obviously, the preferred outcome would be much more than that, but looking at previous cases presented by the media, the realization of the power that Harvey Weinstein has is crushing. He is an older, straight white man with an obscene amount of money and the slimy nature to try and use that to his advantage.
The justice system in the United States is horrendously lax when it comes to sentencing rapists and sex offenders, especially when they are white. For example, the famous case of Brock Turner, who was sentenced to only six months in prison despite being convicted of three separate charges and was released after only serving half of that time. In comparison, a black student named Corey Batey committed a sexual assault very similar in 2013 and received 15-25 years in prison, which the Mic says is a “far cry” from Turner’s.
Why should a man with money, privilege and power be allowed to basically brush off the stories of the many, many women he has victimized over the decades? What kind of message does that send to victims watching this case make history?
Regardless of whatever Weinstein’s sentence is, knowing that he got some kind of conviction at all is a blessing to those whose lives he turned upside down, and serves as a warning to predators in power.
Email River Ashe Maynard at firstname.lastname@example.org