While the Harvey Weinstein story is considered news-breaking, it is as old as time! Men have wielded power over women since the caveman days. Women were considered property to be bought and sold for centuries and it continues in many countries. Currently, that seems preposterous to us in the United States, but it persists.
Men who harass women often also have the social power to get away with it. Is it the impulse to have sex with the women or is it the thrill of trying to get away with something? I think it is both. The men, often dignified pillars of the community or stars, are not only overpowering women, they are challenging the fabric of society. It is my opinion that their conquests are not only of the individual women, but they are defying society’s rules and that can be thrilling. Look at the gambler whose entire fortune is in one throw of the dice—adrenaline rush for sure. But these men really don’t have to worry since more often than not, they know no one will believe their victims.
I, too, experienced the sexual dominance a man could have over a women, In my case, he wasn’t even successful or powerful enough to advance my career; he was just able to control me, terrify me and dominate me sexually. And as so many of those before me, I assumed the role of victim.
I’ve chosen to share the following very personal story only so that women can benefit and feel confident in standing up for themselves: Several years ago, I was in a relationship with a man who I later learned was married. I decided to end the toxic relationship, but he demanded I remain sexual with him. He would stalk me and told me he had friends who could harm me and ruin my reputation. As a woman, I was terrified of this man and as a professional, I was worried about my practice although I had no idea how he would or could ruin my reputation. Terror and fear take away our ability to be rational.
Due to fear, I continued to submit to him sexually. Several months after the break-up, I entered another relationship and refused to be sexual. His demands for sex escalated and he threatened to tell my new lover that I was still having sex with him. The stakes were high and I feared losing my new relationship. I complied and his threat became truth. Crazy, yes, but we women fall prey to men and believe and fear their power. How different is that from thinking he can help you with your career or ruin it if you don’t submit and give him what he wants?
Until now, this scenario, the voiceless victim, has been more common than you can imagine. The question, “Why didn’t women come forward before?” is easy but painful to explain: It is shame, fear and lack of support. No one would believe an aspiring actor/wannabe as compared to a mogul. It had to have been imagined/fabricated/a cry for attention. When I was in an abusive relationship and forced to have sex, I even went to the police department. The sergeant on duty, coincidentally my patient if you can even imagine that, told me in the absence of any apparent physical harm, they would dispense a police officer to go the perpetrator’s home and issue a warning—something that terrified me, and I left without filing a report.
Not only is it horrific that women are not believed, they often allowed it and did not even try to stand up for themselves. Now that this has come to light, it is my hope that not even one more woman will have to face harassment or the shame that follows.