Emma Thompson: Harvey Weinstein Is a Predator “Endemic to the System”, Not a Sex Addict

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Since the news about Harvey Weinstein’s rampant sexual harassment and assault broke, we’ve been seeing a huge number of people in the industry—and outside it—open up about the prevalence of powerful men abusing their authority. Much of it is incredibly empowering, as we see women supporting survivors and holding men accountable for their actions, and no one puts it quite like Emma Thompson. The actress has never held anything back in the critiques of Hollywood discrimination, and this is no exception.

In a BBC Newsnight segment, Thompson spoke about the systemic problem and it puts into words everything we’ve felt. Here are some highlights.

On how often it happens and her personal experiences:

“Perhaps the more of us who say this is endemic, let’s just say it’s endemic…I spent my twenties trying to get old men’s tongues out of my mouth because they just thought ‘well she’s up for it’. So I would imagine that that happens really very regularly, and so perhaps this is a moment when we can say to men and women: ‘Open your eyes and open your mouths and say something.'”

On the lack of women in the industry at all levels, and calling this a “public health issue”:

“There are not nearly enough women, particularly in Hollywood, in positions of power. There aren’t enough women at the top of the tree in the studios who could perhaps balance everything out. There aren’t enough women on set. Crews can be very…with young women in particular. There just aren’t enough women actually. So this is part of our difficulty, this is part of the rebalancing. This is a gender dysfunction.

And the other this it is, is a public heath issue. This is not about one man’s crimes against women. This is about our system’s imbalances, our system’s gender crisis. And we have to act on this. We have to turn this on its head. We can’t allow this to continue because what it means is naturally vulnerable people are going to continue to be preyed upon. Whether Harvey Weinstein goes to jail or not.”

On not buying Weinstein’s “sex addiction excuse”:

“I didn’t know about these things, but they don’t surprise me at all and they’re endemic to the system anyway. What I find sort of extraordinary is that this man is at the top of a very particular iceberg. I don’t think you can describe him as a ‘sex addict’. He’s a predator. But what he’s as it were, the top of the ladder of is a system of harassment, and belittling, and bullying, and interference and what my mother would have referred to in the olden days as ‘pestering.’

…This has been part of our world, women’s world, since time immemorial. So what we need to start talking about is the crisis in masculinity, the crisis of extreme masculinity, which is this sort of behavior and the fact that it is not only OK, but it also is represented by the most powerful man in the world at the moment.”

When asked if there are others, and if they are as bad as Weinstein:

“Do they have to all be as bad as him to make it count? Does it only count if you really have done it to loads and loads and loads of women? Or does it count if you do it to one woman once? I think the latter.”

(via Pajiba, image: screencap)

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