On Harvey Weinstein and the Disgusting Culture of Coercion and Rape
“No one will want you.” That statement is coercive, emotionally abusive, and downright cruel.
I was 19 and I was going to save my virginity for the right guy, the guy I wanted. I wanted that choice.
I never got to choose.
RAINN reports that in the United States, “on average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.”
The thing about being a victim of sexual assault and rape is: you never think it’s going to be you.
At 19, I was naive. I still believed people were good. I was oblivious to the predatory nature of men. I just thought that happened in Lifetime movies.
When I received a friend request from my rapist (we shared two mutual friends) I thought nothing of it. Looking back now, I wish I could have seen the signs that he was violent and coercive. We would talk over Facebook Messenger (this was in the time before Tinder and Bumble) and when he invited me for a coffee date I agreed. After, he invited me back to his place and I thought I’d stay for a little bit and be able to go home. I could have a choice.
My autonomy in the situation quickly diminished. He became intimidating and ruthlessly coercive. He claimed no one would want me. That if I didn’t do it now, with him right then and there, I was doomed. He began to argue and raise his voice. Somehow, I was in the wrong for rejecting his advances. I was the one who was stupid because I didn’t want to have sex with him. It was my fault. He even jibed that perhaps I’d been molested as a child. I was made to feel so degraded that I think a part of me died that night.
He got his way. I was too afraid of what might happen if I fought him. He was so much bigger than me and verbally abusive.
I shoved the rape as far enough away as I could in my mind, but my first semester of college sophomore year my grades ended up suffering. I was failing four courses and I had to get on antidepressants. I numbed myself to everything. I felt guilty about what had happened to me.
One day, I told a friend what had happened, how it all went down. The tip of the iceberg was understanding that what had happened to me was rape and that it wasn’t my fault.
It’s demoralizing how common rape is and how often it occurs.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal has dredged up what I attempted to keep below or out of my mind. Reading the reports of Ashley Judd, Asia Argento, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leá Seydoux, and others coming forward and telling their accounts of Weinstein’s coercive and predatory behavior has triggered something in me. It’s at once terrifying and mollifying to understand (again) that what happened to me wasn’t my fault.
Coercion is a disgusting and appalling bullying tactic. That anyone should stoop to a level that base and manipulative, that anyone should behave so toxically to get what they want at the expense of another human’s discomfort, is detestable.
I have zero tolerance for toxic men like Brock Turner, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein or Bill O’Reilly. All the same, it seems our society worships them. Bill Cosby received a mistrial. Brock Turner only served a paltry six months. Donald Trump was elected leader of the free world.
Healing from rape takes a long time. You never know what’ll make the PTSD kick in. Fear and shame rule your life.
Most of the time, your rapist walks free or worse.
I only ever saw my rapist once after the incident and it was at a coffee shop. Suffice it to say, I left shaking, angry, and ready to vomit. I wasn’t like Rose McGowan or Asia Argento where I was pressured to see my attacker and feign professionalism. I can only imagine what a brutal and traumatizing hellscape that must have been for them.
Rape is an endemic problem in our culture. Unfortunately, I’m a cynic when it comes to how our country will handle the wide-ranging and almost constant effect of the problem. Rape kits are backlogged. Rapists are rarely punished. People turn the other way.
Harvey Weinstein’s predatory nature was an open secret in Hollywood for years. This is the thing that really ticks me off. For years he was preying on women and getting away with it. Donald Trump and Bill Cosby did the same thing.
There is strength in numbers, however. That I can identify what happened to me, that strong and courageous women like Rose McGowan and Asia Argento have stepped forward to shine a light on the atrocious behavior of a predator, inspires me. It’s a signal that the end of an era is coming, a particularly dark and perilous one: the era of toxic masculinity.
We need to talk about it. We need to stop normalizing rape. We need to stop victim blaming and we need to teach men that this toxic behavior is not acceptable.
We’re women: we create life and give birth. We fought against systemic oppression for years. We’ve ruled kingdoms, we’ve created masterpieces. We’ve made life-changing scientific discoveries. If the system of the United States fails us by refusing our access to healthcare and our rights, we can make them cower. We do, after all, make up 50.8% of the total U.S. population.
Harvey Weinstein’s downfall ultimately points to the end of an era: toxic men using fear and coercion to get what they want will no longer be tolerated. It’s about damn time.