Why We Are Just Learning About Harvey Weinstein?

Photo Credit: People Magazine – Courtney Love and Harvey Weinstein Taylor Hill/FilmMagic; Venturelli/WireImage

Why has it taken almost three decades for Harvey Weinstein’s absurdities and gross sexual misconduct to come to light? He was a champion of women’s rights, an avid supporter of the progressive movement and a sought-after democratic donor. How did the people not know? Was there some oath of silence friends, colleagues, and staff members took which protected this man for so long?

While some may plead the fifth, it is clear that sexual harassment and discrimination against women is commonplace in Hollywood and unfortunately throughout mainstream and greater society, but it still doesn’t answer the question of why it took so damn long for the public to learn about Weinstein’s behavior. Sure there were non-disclosure agreements and possible gag orders that were strategically attached to pitiful sums of money to hush Weinstein’s multiple victims, but even still the question remains, Why?

Some believe that the answer is simple, misogyny. The misogynistic views that have been embedded in the very fabric of this countries DNA and have been allowed to permeate throughout American culture since this nation’s founding is definitely a good starting point. This misogynistic culture has caused many to turn a blind eye when they see it happen or remain silent when they encounter it themselves. The real kicker is that holding misogynistic views isn’t just a male-only issue.

Women perpetuate these views too which is evidenced by how many women voted for Trump despite the Access Hollywood tapes. Not that it is right, but perhaps the culture of misogyny that has persisted over the years has made it okay for both men and women to perpetuate and accept less than ethical and violent behavior against women.

With a long history of disrespect, disregard, and marginalization of women in this country, it would be ludicrous to ignore the influence that this attitude towards women has had within families, communities, and society as a whole. Despite the historical context that helps explain the 20+ years of silence, the question of why still remains. There have been many strides towards inclusion and improved parity for women. Women have continued to evolve and remain outspoken in various efforts to advocate for themselves and close disparity gaps, so again, why was this allowed to continue for so long?

Outside of the obvious cover-up and threat to one’s reputation; undoubtedly there is certain intimidation that comes with “going public” about issues like this, especially when your livelihood, reputation, and in extreme cases, your life, are on the line. A victim is even more subdued when the perpetrator holds clout such as Weinstein, Cosby, and others who have been ousted for similar acts.

Arguably so, the tolerance for this type of behavior and misconduct is steadily dwindling and is a strong indicator as to why people are just now learning about Weinstein’s gross behavior. Still, look at how long it has taken to get here. The tolerance for this type of behavior has to be high, for goodness sake, Trump was recorded on tape bragging about grabbing women by their meows, yet he was still elected the leader of the free world. This seemingly renewed assault on women has resulted in a call to action for individuals to protect rights that were hard-fought for and losing them would be a detriment.

This new movement of resistance has definitely brought light to the multiple injustices experienced by women as well as exposed several high-powered individuals and corporations for their unscrupulous behavior. However, as with any major change, hitting people in their pockets have always garnered both attention and change when all other forms of advocacy and protesting have been exhausted.

The threat of bad publicity and potential boycotts has been the impetus for many public apologies, forced resignations/terminations, policy changes, and organizational change and perhaps is the reason why we are just learning about Weinstein’s actions. The Weinstein Company has since fired Mr. Weinstein in an effort to save face.

While the power of the purse has definitely seen many individuals stand on the side of “right” and condemn the actions of Weinstein in an effort to save face and maintain their bottom line, many of these same individuals such as Ben Affleck has been ousted for being perpetrators of illicit behavior against women themselves. So not only does the question of why still linger, but the question of what does it really take to resolve these kinds of issues arises as well? Perhaps no one at all really gave a damn about Weinstein’s actions outside of his victims and a small group of their supporters consisting of friends, family, and loved ones. For those A-list celebrities, writers, and producers who were fortunate to ”

So not only does the question of why these allegations lingered for so long is burned into our minds, but the question of what will it really take to resolve and address these kinds of issues in today’s society remains. Perhaps no one at all really gave a damn about Weinstein’s actions outside of his victims and a small group of their supporters consisting of friends, family, and loved ones.

For those A-list celebrities, writers, and producers who were fortunate to “make it” but were victimized, perhaps some made peace with their new-found success and opportunities and chose to put the Weinstein experience behind them. Either way, it’s good that the skeletons are no longer in the closet.

Transgender TV Characters Have the Power to Shape Audience Attitudes

transgender teen

Watching transgender characters on fictional TV shows has the power to influence attitudes toward transgender people and policy issues, according to new research from USC Annenberg. Just published in the peer-reviewed journal Sex Roles, the research further highlights the ways political ideology shapes viewer responses to transgender depictions in entertainment.

The researchers surveyed 488 regular viewers of the USA Network series Royal Pains, of whom 391 saw a June 2015 episode featuring a portrayal of a transgender teen, played by transgender activist Nicole Maines. Those who saw this episode had more positive attitudes toward both transgender people and related policies, such as students using bathrooms aligned with their gender identity. The fictional Royal Pains storyline was more influential than news events; exposure to transgender issues in the news and Caitlyn Jenner’s transition (which was unfolding at the time of the research) had no effect on attitudes.

Beyond the impact of the Royal Pains episode, the study is the first to demonstrate the effect of cumulative exposure to transgender portrayals, across multiple shows. The more shows featuring transgender characters (such as Amazon’s Transparent and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black) that viewers saw, the more transgender-supportive their attitudes. Viewing two or more transgender storylines reduced the association between viewers’ political ideology and their attitudes toward transgender people by half.

According to Traci Gillig, a doctoral candidate at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the lead author on the study, “While media visibility of transgender people reached new levels in recent years, little has been known about the effects of that visibility. Our study shows the power of entertainment narratives to influence viewers’ attitudes toward transgender people and policy issues.”

The research was conducted in collaboration with Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center that serves as a free resource to the entertainment industry on TV storylines addressing health, safety and national security issues. HH&S Director Kate Langrall Folb explains: “We worked closely with the Royal Pains writers, connecting them with medical experts and providing information for the storyline.”

The results of this research suggest increased visibility of transgender characters in mainstream entertainment can have far-reaching influence on public perceptions of transgender people and the policies that impact them.

“Watching TV shows with nuanced transgender characters can break down ideological biases in a way that news stories may not. This is especially true when the stories inspire hope or when viewers can relate to the characters,” said HH&S Senior Research Associate Erica Rosenthal.

Read more about the research in an analysis by Gillig and Rosenthal. “Can transgender TV characters help bridge an ideological divide?” was published by The Conversation.

Keira Knightley Makes Explosive Video on Domestic Violence

Hollywood actress and celebrity Kiera Knightley, recently released a video called Cut where she is drawing attention to the dangers of domestic violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Also, the Federal Bureau of Investigation national crime statistics has indicated that police reports show one-third of female homicide are committed by an intimate partner.

Preventing-Domestic-Violence-MainPhotoThe National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines the problem:

Battering is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person with whom an intimate relationship is or has been shared through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Battering happens when one person believes that they are entitled to control another.

Intimate partner violence in intrinsically connected to the societal oppression of women, children, people of color, people with disabilities, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, elders, Jewish people, and other marginalized groups.

While oppression functions in similar ways regardless of which group is targeted, different target groups have unique experiences of oppression stemming from their specific historic, cultural and social experiences and realities. The work to end domestic violence must necessarily include the fight against all oppressions.

Domestic violence may include not only the intimate partner relationships of spousal, live-in partners and dating relationships, also familial, elder and child abuse may be present in a violent home. Abuse generally falls into one or more of the following categories: physical battering, sexual assault and emotional or psychological abuse, and generally escalates over a period of time.  Read More

View Keira’s video which visually defines the problem:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4RjsqPYaS0[/youtube]

Bradley Cooper and the Center for American Progress on Mental Health

Celebrity and Hollywood actor, Bradley Cooper, could have used his talk show appearances to only promote his new movie Silver Linings Playbook, but instead he also saw it as an opportunity to spread awareness on mental health issues.

Bradley Cooper in conjunction with the Center for American Progress, former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy, and other leading mental health professionals convened a press conference to discuss the stigmas associated with mental illness which was first reported on by the Huffington Post.

I knew after reading the article, the conference video was a valuable piece of information that needed to be shared. Additionally, I had seen Bradley making the rounds on MSNBC , but I must admit that I had not seen the movie. To be thorough, I decided to see the movie before sharing the informational video attached to below this article.

I kept hearing this movie was the best movie of the year. Well, the same was said for Les Miserable, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lincoln all of which I have seen. Normally, I don’t go see movies dealing with this type of subject matter because I’ve already seen more than my share from work.

To my chagrin, this is undoubtedly one of the best movies I have ever seen. As a social worker, the main characters, Pat and Tiffany, have been my client at one time or another with their explosive behaviors, extreme highs, and extreme lows as well as bouts with law. This movie not only captures reality, but it gave these characters humanity, dignity and respect. Often, our clients may be one case out of the 15 others cases on our service, and it can create many challenges in developing one on one connections with each client.

This movie reminded me about the complexities of living with mental illness for the individual and their family. People struggling with mental health disorders don’t spin out of control from a lack of desire to get better.  Access to resources, health care, support, and basic care are vital for them to achieve their best-self.  In the movie, both Pat and Tiffany live with their parents which provided a safe space for them to work full-time on their mental illness.

The movie utilized a holistic approach between the court system, hospital, therapist, and family in providing treatment options for Pat which allowed him to find his silver lining.  Imagine if Pat was homeless and without healthcare while dealing with pending charges he had in the movie? It would have been another episode of Cops instead of an uplifting movie about overcoming challenges due to mental illness.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I would advise every practitioner, student, and aspiring student to go see it. I left the movie theater feeling proud to be apart of the social work profession despite the many challenges we face ahead in providing quality care to vulnerable populations.

Here is an excerpt from the Huffington Post article:

Silver Linings Playbook is such a personal movie for David and when we all came together, it became a personal movie for all of us. Tiffany, she serves as a catalyst and she’s the first person who actually sees who Pat is. That’s the thing that this film has done, people around this country who have seen this film say “this film actually sees who I am” because it’s heavily stigmatized, its not a very treatable disease and it’s a condition that is diagnosed way too late. So hopefully, a movie like this will help it become in the onset. That the best thing about this movie, that its able to reach out and make people feel included. ~ Bradley Cooper

I have included the video of the panel discussion on mental health at the Center for American Progress for your review:

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