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What Happens When Women Speak Out: The Spy Network Harvey Weinstein Hired to Silence His Accusers

Sexual Harassment

Want to know why women are so afraid to come forward?

Ronan Farrow published a new piece in The New Yorker which details the extreme and invasive lengths to which Harvey Weinstein went in order to silence both his accusers and the journalists they spoke to. Weinstein hired a number of private security firms to gather compromising information about his accusers, trick journalists into revealing their sources, and root out a copy of Rose McGowan’s forthcoming memoir, Brave, before it hit the shelves.

The companies’ contracts, as reported by The New Yorker, make Weinstein’s end goal explicit. They were hired to “provide intelligence which will help … to completely stop the publication of a new negative article” – with hefty bonuses if their information successfully intimidated the women or journalists into silence.

The security firms included Kroll, Inc., a massive corporate-investigation company, and Black Cube, an agency whose employees are drawn from “Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units.” These companies adopted moves straight out of a spy movie, using fake identities to draw Weinstein’s accusers out and convince them to talk.

As Farrow reports, “one of [Black Cube’s] investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with [Rose] McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press.”

“It was like the movie Gaslight,” McGowan told Farrow. “Everyone lied to me all the time.”

Weinstein also hired a company called PSOPS to compile terrifyingly detailed dossiers on the women. As Farrow reports, one of the files on McGowan was more than a hundred pages long and included sections like “Past Lovers,” “Lies/Exaggerations/Contradictions,” as well as information on McGowan’s address and personal info.

In addition, by running his relationships with these companies through his law firms, Weinstein’s activities were “theoretically protected by attorney-client privilege, which could prevent them from being disclosed in court.” I’d encourage you to read the entire article, which lays out this nightmarish scheme in even more detail.

More than anything, I hope these revelations put to rest this idea that women should “just speak up.” Instead of focusing on the individual responsibility of the victims, we should ask how our society enables and empowers wealthy men to manipulate and intimidate the people they hurt. The fact that these companies took Weinstein’s money in order to help him get away with (alleged) rape is disgusting, but their hefty fees and global profiles show that there is a demand for this dirty work from other powerful corporations and rich predators.

Asking, “Why don’t women come forward?” is the ultimate concern troll. We all already know why they don’t: because we live in a society where money makes predators powerful and misogyny makes women less believable. Hopefully, anyone who still doubts the existence of these forces will read the New Yorker report and learn how they do their devastating work.

(Via The New Yorker; image via Shutterstock)

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