Strangers to Consequence


From London Review of Books:

When you pursue, intimidate, bully or seduce someone you employ, you are breaking a trust and showing an inherent lack of respect.

Younger, less experienced employees are looking to you to define what their role is, how they should be, whether and how they matter. When you teach them that the way they matter is in how attractive they are to you and the ways they can bolster your sense of power, you don’t only abuse your position professionally and personally, you also alter their sense of self. Men and women new to the industry are incredibly vulnerable to the view and approbation of someone powerful and respected. And their sense of what is and is not appropriate is smashed for their whole professional life. On top of that, there is emotional work in managing a powerful person’s advances. It’s work that many male artists never have to think about. To reject the proposition is to court resentment, to accept it is to compromise your position, to reject but maintain cordiality is a constant balancing act, to submit and then end the assignation is a mess of rumour and secrecy. People find out. And when they do, guess who gets punished.

This is the reason the unseating of Weinstein is meaningful. Powerful abusers are often strangers to consequence. Everybody knows. Nobody speaks. It is only because Weinstein’s influence has waned that women felt able to voice the truth without fearing for their livelihoods. And it is now that we can hear the unusual silence of men.

“Short Cuts”, Lucy Prebble, London Review of Books