Harvey Weinstein the beast is finally behind bars

It happened, imagine that. The beast is finally behind bars and the winner is #MeToo. Harvey Weinstein, taken to a prison cell in handcuffs, will now pay something of a price for raping and terrorizing women in the film industry where he prowled, rich and hideous, for decades.

Many good men and women had expected Weinstein, 67, would be found not guilty on all counts and dance his way out of court, discarding the prop walker over which he, bloated and unshaved, arrived each day bent double, but they were joyously, blessedly wrong.

Raise a glass, friends.

True to Weinstein’s nature, he will appeal the verdict of guilty on two charges, rape and criminal sexual assault — even if he were to get only probation on the first one, the second carries a minimum five-year sentence — but he faces sentencing plus more charges in Los Angeles. The outlook isn’t good for a man facing public accusations by more than 100 women.

For Canadian women, the trial was familiar territory after the 2016 Jian Ghomeshi case, where witnesses who said he assaulted them were pilloried by a female lawyer for their later relatively friendly behaviour, which he tracked.

A woman holds a placard at a rally in response to former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi's acquittal on sexual assault charges.

The most important part of the Weinstein verdict is that the jury understood why victims do that. In a woman-hating world, they have to find a way to live. So they minimize it, they find a way to shrink a horror they cannot contain.

The verdict was strange, the jury having deliberated for 26.5 hours over almost five days to find him not guilty of a “predatory” pattern of sexual assault plus two other charges, despite evidence of attacks on six women in this case alone. But it is sufficient for now.

If Weinstein was judged to be not a type but a specific, then he was a specifically disgusting embodiment of male pattern misogyny. The verdict is a crucial step in a weird story that has unfolded since #MeToo began. There are many variations and degrees of Weinsteins, from sexual harassers and creeps to rapists and beyond.

Think of the stories being told now, allegations about pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, his friend Prince Andrew, “saintly” Jean Vanier, island dweller Peter Nygard, Donald Trump, bathrobed Charlie Rose, et al. We all know #MeToo men not yet revealed. What do they have in common?

Melania Trump, Prince Andrew, Gwendolyn Beck and Jeffrey Epstein at a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000.

It’s not just that the allegations are about powerful older men. Presumably, if the allegations are true, they behaved in a similar fashion while younger, and the odds of getting caught simply increased with the advance of time and feminism. It’s that violent misogyny is not considered unusual. Historically, it wasn’t considered at all.

Weinstein became even more bestial with the arrival of the #MeToo movement, devised when women around the world began to talk about the sexual harassment that was their constant companion at work. Two New York Times journalists and the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow wrote Weinstein exposés in quick succession in 2017.

Weinstein unleashed vengeance on those who testified and others who might, knowing that he was under serious legal threat for perhaps the first time in his life. One alleged victim was actor Annabella Sciorra, most famed for her work in “The Sopranos” as Gloria Trillo, a tiny woman who in one scene was slammed to the ground and choked by the huge Tony Soprano.

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It was a gentler replay of what Weinstein had allegedly done to her. She said she remained terrified of Weinstein, who she feared would kill her if she spoke out. She spoke out. Weinstein was acquitted of the predatory sexual assault charges.

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” Christine Blasey Ford testified about an alleged attack by a young Brett Kavanaugh, now a U.S. Supreme Court justice, who cried angry tears at his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed.

Weinstein was particularly repulsive. During the trial the jury heard testimony that he used a needle on his penis to get erections, “that his genitals appeared disfigured, that he sent Sciorra a box of chocolate penises and that he once showed up uninvited at her hotel room door in his underwear with a bottle of baby oil in one hand and a video in the other,” The Associated Press reported.

The revolting story is not over. A chapter has ended and another will begin. But what a day, what a great day.

Heather Mallick is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @HeatherMallick

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