COMMENTARY: Men must stop giving ethical sewers moral comfort
There are times when a man learns of another’s behaviour and says barely above a whisper, “I’m ashamed to be a man.”
How many stories can you read about Harvey Weinstein‘s personal war against the dignity of women, his alleged gropings and grindings, his exposing himself before you begin to ask serious questions about the nature of men in general.
Weinstein has denied the allegations, with his lawyer stating, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
How many stories do you need to read before asking yourself what you have done, if anything, to give these ethical sewers moral comfort.
As I write this, I know we still live in the dark ages as far as sex crimes are concerned.
Many male opinion leaders in recent days have used the same old contaminated playbook, focused on what women knew and when they knew it.
WATCH: The legal ramifications of the Weinstein sex assault allegations
“When will women come forward,” they ask.
And when women like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow come forward to support Ashley Judd and Asia Argento and Lucia Evans, the question becomes “What took these women so long?”
Sexual crimes are still considered women’s issues. But we don’t pervert journalistic justice on massive frauds or mass murders. Media pundits don’t put Bernie Madoff’s victims on trial.
WATCH: Hollywood stars react to Weinstein allegations, call for him to be prosecuted
We didn’t badger the people and charities that got plundered because they chose to invest with the villain Madoff. We don’t pile on country music fans for unwittingly entering a killing field in Las Vegas.
But for some reason, when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault, the burden is on women to expose their souls to us.
Every male needs to listen to the audio tape of Harvey Weinstein preying on the model that he had already pawed earlier. He demands that she come into his hotel room and swears on his kids she has nothing to fear.
WATCH: Report: 3 women accusing Harvey Weinstein of rape
When she won’t submit, he threatens with the loss of his “friendship.” That’s no idle threat. It means whatever work he may have for her will disappear.
Because of his influence, it means work she may be able to get with others may also vanish. Her career could be dusted unless she participates in Harvey Weinstein’s idea of fun.
I am not here to litigate this feral hound. I simply want to ask my fellow men to arrest our impulses to burden women exclusively with outing the hounds.
Any woman who may have been interfered with and extorted and violated by Harvey Weinstein had a boyfriend or a husband or fellow actors who would know what Harvey was about.
WATCH: Seth MacFarlane jokes about Weinstein alleged sexual abuses during 2013 Oscar nominations
If a comedian could joke publicly at the Oscars about Weinstein, there can be no question that many in the industry knew about these allegations.
Not knowing every single detail of every encounter is no excuse for inaction. There is no deep, dark mystery as to why Weinstein was able to purchase silence from male superstars who had to know.
But if you’re an actor who knows about Weinstein’s conduct and are making money inside the empire, you find ways of getting along with Darth Vader Weinstein.
WATCH: Harvey Weinstein makes desperate plea to friends as sexual misconduct allegation mount
And the last thing you ever do is go to the police, or the district attorney or the New York Times.
While these actors who knew could have come forward with information and didn’t, there were many men in the corner suites of networks and movie studios who also could have spoken out or gone to the authorities many years ago.
You will hear their voices now talking about how outraged they are.
But how outraged were they when they were aware of sizable cheques that were being written to shut women up? How outraged were they when they first learned that the man they were doing business with, and sometimes investing in, was accused of being a serial predator?
They wrote it off as an occupational hazard, the Hollywood culture and all that blah blah blah.
WATCH: Film producer Harvey Weinstein ousted from Weinstein Co.
What’s most corrosive is that they ultimately viewed the behaviour as someone else’s problem.
And the someone else was always a woman.
There is much about the Harvey Weinstein story that has not yet been published. But let’s put this on the record now. Rape is not a women’s issue. It’s a human issue. Men who know something should say something, and what they should never say is “Why are women not coming forward sooner?”
Many men who play this game are publicly big on supporting all kinds of causes that are dedicated to human rights and human dignity. They are publicly generous.
But on the issue of sex crimes they are privately aware of they are morally miserly.
WATCH: Celebrities speak out in support of Ashley Judd
Silence is a predator’s best friend. Males have been silent for too long.
Instead of telling jokes about the Harvey Weinsteins and demanding that women do more to call them out we need to stop enabling our fellow men in getting away with murdering the dignity of our colleagues and sisters and girlfriends and wives.
I am hoping we can finally make some human progress if the Harvey Weinstein story forces our male consciences to whisper six sad words: “I’m ashamed to be a man.”
Charles Adler is the host of Charles Adler Tonight on the Corus Radio Network, airing 9 p.m. to Midnight on CJOB in Winnipeg, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Newstalk 770 and CHED in Calgary and Edmonton and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on CKNW in Vancouver.
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