I was listening to some stuff on the Harvey Weinstein scandal and I had some thoughts that I haven’t heard people express.
There is nothing surprising about this scandal. Male sexuality has many positive aspects and it has the ability to have some gross, weird, pushy and even violent aspects. This is a fact of reality. We can be outraged or angry, but it won’t change this basic fact of reality. As a human in this world, it is something you need to come to terms with and learn how to handle.
This guy is an asshole. You will meet many assholes in your life. There are important things to do in order to protect yourself and handle uncomfortable situations. Assholes thrive in industries where talent/skill doesn’t stand by its own merits but you rather need connections with powerful people. These industries have very large power differences and when you are in them, people will have vastly more leverage over you than you do with them. By going into this industry you need to know this and you need to know that your future is not based off of your merits, but rather powerful people who have their own interests at heart. This is obviously the case in film and TV, but it also exists in politics, media, performing arts, modeling, education, and government work.
Industries that don’t have monopolies or that aren’t based on image have to compete for your labor. This makes it so a computer programmer has significant leverage within his workplace and it would be vastly more difficult for an employer to be an asshole since it is very easy to get a similar job and opportunity from a competitor. If you get involved in highly competitive industries where your skills are highly valued, you are putting yourself in a position to have industries compete over you. Always consider the power dynamics of the situation you are putting yourself in. If you are going to have to put your integrity in the hands of several powerful people, that is not going to be a healthy work dynamic for you. Even if they aren’t sexual creepers, any other personality issue they have you will be feeling the brunt of.
Be assertive and shut people down when they don’t take you seriously or are being derisive. You need to establish a culture of how people deal with you. If you are passive, jerks of all stripes will take the opportunity to extract resources from you. A coworker that wants extra work done will shove it onto you since you are the path of least resistance … people will use you to fulfill their desires. Be kind, but assertive and learn to be a total asshole when someone is being assumptive or jerky.
It is nice to say that people shouldn’t take advantage of power differences, but it is utterly delusional. Everyone does it, even if they don’t like to think of it that way. This is why kids are treated vastly more poorly than adults … because they don’t have leverage. Sexual creepers are merely a brand of this behavior that everyone engages in and there is no getting rid of it.
The goal is to put yourself in good positions. Make sure you don’t put yourself in situations that have a high disparity in leverage. Go into industries where it isn’t bottlenecked by gatekeepers. Don’t go to parties where there is no easy escape route. All of this advice isn’t just for women. These ideas make it so you don’t fall victim of all sorts of different types of assholes. By making sure you have free association, relatively equal leverage, and an assertive demeanor … it will be incredibly difficult for someone to take advantage of you.
I think the danger in making the Weinstein scandal so big is that it is focusing on one asshole rather than the incentives and human nature involved. This scandal is just a situation of a person using the leverage they have to get what they want out of people … that’s nature for you. My solution is to accept reality, but merely control the culture and power dynamics so it ends up not being in the interest of others to take advantage of you. Don’t focus on the “predator,” focus on the underlying incentives.