“Disgusting and kind of pathetic”: Lauren Sivan on being cornered and sexually menaced by Harvey Weinstein
Anyone have a better word than “menaced” for what she describes? Assault might have been hard to prove absent physical contact but this act of lewdness goes way beyond harassment. Sivan cuts right to the heart of it when she calls it demeaning. That’s what Weinstein seems to have gotten off on — he was going to make her watch, knowing how repulsed and frightened she must have been, and then he was going to walk away expecting that she wouldn’t dare say anything. Sivan says he even called her the next day and asked to see her again. I wonder if that was an attempt to demean her too. After having been coerced into watching him masturbate, would she be so intimidated as to accept his offer of a “date”? No, as it turned out. But I bet not everyone he did this to said no.
Which is another good point she makes. The whole incident reeks of an M.O., especially when he told the cleaners in the kitchen to take a hike when he appeared with her. It takes a remarkable comfort level to maneuver someone you’ve just met into a hidden spot and then wank it in front of her with zero fear of repercussions.
Well done by Megyn Kelly and NBC in showing some nerve by tackling this subject, especially after SNL’s gutless retreat this weekend. The piece you want to read today on media/Hollywood cowardice in exposing Weinstein is Lee Smith at the Weekly Standard, who worked for a magazine owned by Weinstein’s company 20 years ago. Weinstein’s method with the media industry mirrored his method with the women he allegedly harassed, notes Smith: Make it worth their while to shut up, through hush money and fear of retribution, and they’ll shut up.
His problem now is that it’s no longer worth their while:
A friend reminds me that there was a period when Miramax bought the rights to every big story published in magazines throughout the city. Why mess with Weinstein when that big new female star you’re trying to wrangle for the June cover is headlining a Miramax release? Do you think that glossy magazine editor who threw the swankiest Oscar party in Hollywood was trying to “nail down” the Weinstein story? Right, just like the hundreds of journalists who were ferried across the river for the big party at the Statue of Liberty to celebrate the premiere of Talk—they were all there sipping champagne and sniffing coke with models in order to “nail down” the story about how their host was a rapist.
That’s why the story about Harvey Weinstein finally broke now. It’s because the media industry that once protected him has collapsed. The magazines that used to publish the stories Miramax optioned can’t afford to pay for the kind of reporting and storytelling that translates into screenplays. They’re broke because Facebook and Google have swallowed all the digital advertising money that was supposed to save the press as print advertising continued to tank.
This perfectly captures the thrill Weinstein seems to have gotten from cornering Sivan even though she was unwilling and neither one touched the other:
Hollywood is full of connoisseurs like Weinstein, men whose erotic imaginations are fueled primarily by humiliation, who glut their sensibilities with the most exquisite refinements of shame. A journalist once told me about visiting another very famous Hollywood producer—you’d know the name—who exhibited for my friend his collection of photographs of famous female actresses—you’d know their names, too—performing sexual acts for his private viewing. As with Weinstein, this man’s chief thrill was humiliation, and the more famous the target the more roundly it was savored: Even her, a big star—these people will do anything to land a role; they’re so awful, they’ll even do it for me.
I’ll bet Weinstein told himself that about every woman he harassed. They’re so awful to “let” me do this to them and not complain. How am I any worse than they are?
One more thing. Weinstein is even more notorious for being physically intimidating and verbally abusive than he is for being sexually menacing. Smith remembers that Tina Brown, who was editor of the magazine owned by Weinstein, was viciously excoriated by him on a routine basis. You’re left wondering in light of the sexual accusations against him whether that aggression sometimes erupted in other ways. On that note, read this Vanity Fair piece from a few days ago about actress Rose McGowan, who tweeted last year that she’d been raped by an unnamed studio head. The NYT bombshell about Weinstein published last week claimed that he’d reached a settlement with McGowan, although it didn’t include any details. McGowan herself hasn’t formally accused Weinstein publicly but she’s been tweeting nonstop about sexual assault over the last few days as the Weinstein coverage has blown up. Hmmmm.