On Feb. 24, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted for one count of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree. He is the most pervasive sexual criminal in the entertainment industry of the 20th century, yet he was not found guilty on the most important charge: predatory sexual assault. Predatory sexual assault is the most serious of the potential charges Weinstein faced; he was up against two counts of predatory sexual assault. If he had been found guilty, his prison sentence would have been much longer. The verdict, however, required proving that the defendant had attacked at least two victims and a unanimous vote from the jurors, but several of them were unsure if his case met the requirements. Four women testified against Weinstein in an attempt to prove his pattern of predatory behavior, but only one of the women had a criminal case against him; the other three women had cases that were too old to prosecute under New York’s statute of limitations. Weinstein, a serial rapist, was only charged for a singular assault.
Dozens of women have accused him of sexual assault and rape. Over 80 women working in the entertainment industry were abused by him and felt obligated to fulfill his desires in order to receive or maintain a job. This trial is not a win for the female empowerment movement. It is not a win for the fight against sexual misconduct in the workplace. Weinstein faces the measly sentence of between five and 29 years in prison. In Oregon, possessing heroin results in ten years of imprisonment; Weinstein’s repeated offenses against women have been deemed just as dangerous as the felony of possessing a narcotic. People who abuse drugs only harm themselves, rapists ruin the lives of others; drug use and sexual abuse are not comparable offenses. Abuse should be more heavily persecuted and looked down upon than drug use, but that is not the world we live in. We live in a world where it is more acceptable to abuse a female than it is to abuse a drug.
Clearly, the priorities of prosecutors are out of whack if the “war on drugs” is more important than the protection and sanctity of the female body. Rich and influential men will continue to get away with these heinous acts until they are deemed rightfully punishable by the judicial system. I am ashamed to live in a nation where it is more acceptable to rape, assault and act in a predatory way towards women than it is to possess and ingest drugs. There is no excuse for these actions, and there are no comparable offenses. Weinstein was not charged with predatory sexual assault, the worst of the three sexual assault offenses, but his offenses could never be comparable to those of a drug user or dealer. He should be in prison for life. His life should be over, and he should be removed from society. His offenses are of the worst kind, and yet they are the most pardoned, especially when pertaining to upper-class male society.
I think it is very likely that Weinstein will be released after only five years on “good behavior” and that he will return to work. He will be pardoned and allowed back into the entertainment industry where he will continue to produce movies, prey on young women and make Hollywood a dangerous place for anyone who identifies as a female. With the verdict of Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo movement has been set back by many years. When Weinstein is released from prison, all too soon, young women in the industry will feel unsafe and silenced once again. We have let a predatory man triumph once again; the male prerogative to take advantage of women has become the loudest voice. The women of the world are angry. We have been let down, once again.