SARAH VINE: The most shattering truth about Harvey Weinstein and women has been laid bare 

The sordid story of Harvey Weinstein has taught us many unsavoury truths about Hollywood, and about the kind of abuse that lurks behind those million-dollar smiles.

Never before have the workings of this tawdry world been laid bare in such excoriating detail. We have been spared nothing, from detailed descriptions of the ex-mogul’s apparently deformed anatomy to the acts themselves, each one more grotesque than the last.

In many ways it’s nothing new: sleazebags like Weinstein have always used their power to take advantage of beautiful young women. We shall perhaps never know how many he subjected to his callous games of fat cat and mouse in hotel suites across the world.

The sordid story of Harvey Weinstein (pictured at court in New York on Monday) has taught us many unsavoury truths about Hollywood… but there remains one aspect of this trial that has not been fully explored, writes Sarah Vine

Still, by testifying — at great emotional cost — the witnesses have not only secured a great personal victory but also (we must hope) helped safeguard future generations of women against this kind of abuse and exploitation.

But there remains one aspect of this trial that has not been fully explored. It formed the central plank of the defence case and remains, despite the guilty verdicts, a source of doubt for many.

Why, if Weinstein was a revolting abuser and rapist, did the victims continue to pursue relationships with him, in some cases even seeking out his company? Many have taken this to mean his victims in reality understood perfectly well the nature of their interactions with the big-shot producer. But the truth is far more complex.

Weinstein’s assaults were not random acts of opportunism, a drunken date gone wrong. He had a clear modus operandi. He was a serial abuser, and his targets were groomed over a period of time.

Why, if Weinstein (seen in a court sketch) was a revolting abuser and rapist, did the victims continue to pursue relationships with him, in some cases even seeking out his company? Many have taken this to mean his victims in reality understood perfectly well the nature of their interactions with the big-shot producer. But the truth is far more complex

Why, if Weinstein (seen in a court sketch) was a revolting abuser and rapist, did the victims continue to pursue relationships with him, in some cases even seeking out his company? Many have taken this to mean his victims in reality understood perfectly well the nature of their interactions with the big-shot producer. But the truth is far more complex

Weinstein was convicted by a jury of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006He was also convicted of raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013

Weinstein was convicted by a jury of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 (left) and raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013 (right)

These were vulnerable women he was targeting, women for whom an audience with someone as powerful as Weinstein would have represented a rare opportunity. Of course they wanted to please him, yes, even after he had defiled them. And that is what I think will strike a chord with many women (he is pictured leaving court on February 14 with lawyer Donna Rotunno)

These were vulnerable women he was targeting, women for whom an audience with someone as powerful as Weinstein would have represented a rare opportunity. Of course they wanted to please him, yes, even after he had defiled them. And that is what I think will strike a chord with many women (he is pictured leaving court on February 14 with lawyer Donna Rotunno)

He would strike up a relationship, ostensibly professional, with his victims, before exercising coercion. He would gain their trust, make them feel valued, shower them with praise before making his move.

Like all skilled abusers he knew how to exploit the ambiguity of the situation to his advantage. He set out deliberately to manipulate and confuse their emotions.

Let’s face it, these were vulnerable women he was targeting, women for whom an audience with someone as powerful as Weinstein would have represented a rare opportunity. Of course they wanted to please him, yes, even after he had defiled them.

And that is what I think will strike a chord with many women.

I am not comparing for a minute our experiences with the horrors those witnesses faced. But how often in your life have you held your tongue or gone along with something that made you feel uncomfortable simply because you didn’t want to upset the people involved?

Time and again women’s fear of confrontation leaves us feeling awkward or compromised.

It is, I think, a feminine trait. Girls are programmed from a young age to want to please. In part it’s how society sees us: providers, enablers, helpers. But whatever the reasons, rightly or wrongly this constant underlying need for approval ultimately makes us vulnerable — especially when there are ruthless men like Weinstein on the prowl.

So, yes, I can really understand how a woman can, on the one hand, be violated and abused, yet, on the other, continue to seek the approval of her abuser. Time and again this happens in situations of family or domestic abuse. And I agree with the decision of that New York jury: it doesn’t mitigate the abuse.

Weinstein’s assaults were not random acts of opportunism, a drunken date gone wrong. He had a clear modus operandi. He was a serial abuser, and his targets were groomed over a period of time (Weinstein is pictured with his lawyer Donna Rotunno)

Weinstein’s assaults were not random acts of opportunism, a drunken date gone wrong. He had a clear modus operandi. He was a serial abuser, and his targets were groomed over a period of time (Weinstein is pictured with his lawyer Donna Rotunno)

There’s a very good reason why women behave this way. Because when we push back or challenge certain behaviours, we are immediately labelled as difficult.



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