"Today, a jury confirmed what we all know: Harvey Weinstein committed sexual assault. This wouldn’t have been possible without the voices of the silence breakers in and outside of the courtroom, the survivors who courageously testified, and the jurors who, despite an unrelenting and unethical defense strategy, voted to find an unremorseful Harvey Weinstein guilty.
This jury worked with an incredibly narrow and unjust set of laws governing sexual assault, and though he was not convicted on all counts, Harvey Weinstein will have to answer for his crimes.
Harvey Weinstein operated with impunity and without remorse for decades in Hollywood. Yet, it still took years, and millions of voices raised, for one man to be held accountable by the justice system.
For some, this has been a Hollywood battle between famous actresses and a larger-than-life producer. Some, have tired and begun to ask whether we should care about these Hollywood celebrities.
We would do well to ask ourselves how many of these women’s names we can actually remember, beyond the boldface few? Certainly, Harvey’s name will be seared in our collective memories, but many of the survivors will be quietly taking stock of the impact.
How many careers were derailed? How many entry-level assistants were fired or silenced? How many jobs were lost? How many news stories, that could have exposed Harvey sooner, were censored? How many people could have spoken up, but didn’t? All in the name of protecting a violent sexual predator.
This case reminds us that sexual violence thrives on unchecked power and privilege. The implications reverberate far beyond Hollywood and into the daily lives of all of us in the rest of the world.
Whether you are an office worker, a nanny, an assistant, a cook, a factory worker— we all have to deal with the spectre of sexual violence derailing our lives.
And, though today a man has been found guilty, we have to wonder whether anyone will care about the rest of us tomorrow. This is why we say MeToo."
- 25 Feb 20
Read Tarana Burke's full statement below.
Yesterday (24th February) sexual predator and former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of committing rape and a criminal sex act in a New York courtroom. The crimes of which he has been found guilty carry a maximum potential sentence of 25 years.
Immediately following the verdict, Weinstein was handcuffed and taken into custody. Today, activists, survivors and supporters have taken to Twitter to rejoice in what will surely be a monumental step in the direction of gender equality and the eradication of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Activist Tarana Burke, who founded the #MeToo movement, posted a statement which read:
Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty. It took 90 women to accuse him of harassment and rape, the entire #MeToo movement, 5 years of court proceedings, and intervention from the New York State governor to finally achieve this. That is how hard the fight for justice is for women.
— Hassan A. Niazi (@HNiaziii) February 25, 2020
Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist wrote:
May Harvey Weinstein spend what remains of his life behind bars, thinking about all the terrible crimes he committed against women and may find some measure of peace in his punishment.
— roxane gay (@rgay) February 24, 2020
Gay is a survivor of sexual violence, and when her opinion was criticised by a Twitter user as being "incredibly carceral", Gay responded "I am fine with rapists sitting in prison. Prison reform is desperately needed but I am not so evolved as to not want rapists to rot there. I am glad people like you are," noting that it's harmful to suggest how rape survivors should feel about the verdict.
I am fine with rapists sitting in prison. Prison reform is desperately needed but I am not so evolved as to not want rapists to rot there. I am glad people like you are. https://t.co/DO19BxT6SL
— roxane gay (@rgay) February 24, 2020
Rose McGowan, who was herself abused by Weinstein, posted a statement which said: "for once he won't be sitting comfortably. For once he will know what it's like to have power wrapped around his neck. Today is not a referendum on #MeToo. This is taking out the trash".
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) February 24, 2020
Only time will tell if Weinstein's guilty verdict will spark a sea change in the way women are treated in the entertainment industry and the workplace at large.