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The Weinstein allegations would be shocking, if they weren't so familiar: Vicky Mochama

If there has been a feminist revolution, it has not made women’s safety sacred, writes Vicky Mochama.

If there has been a feminist revolution, it has not made women’s safety sacred, writes Vicky Mochama.

Sergei Chuzavkov / AP

If there has been a feminist revolution, it has not made women’s safety sacred, writes Vicky Mochama.

Being a woman remains the least safe you can be.

After revelations from the New Yorker and the New York Times that film producer Harvey Weinstein is a serial predator and alleged rapist, he has been fired from the film company he co-founded. Since allegations arose last week, more and more women have come forward with stories of harassment, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

It would be shocking if it wasn’t sickeningly familiar.

There are the rumours that “everyone knew” but not everyone knew. There are the people – friends, assistants, colleagues – who looked away when they knew that danger lurked for someone else. This is time and money working in tandem. Money bought lawyers who won him secrecy and silence which, in turn, gave Weinstein over three decades to abuse women.

And there is the man himself: a malicious, cruel man whose behaviour can only be explained by knowing that some men love power as much as they hate women.

In many ways, Weinstein’s predatory behaviour hid in plain sight. Magazines envisioned his retributive and menacing personality as drive, bombast and genius politicking. His friendships with politicians and celebrities provided cover for him to target those he perceived as vulnerable using that same power and privilege.

Weinstein’s time is up. So too is Bill O’Reilly’s, Bill Cosby’s, Jian Ghomeshi’s and (fatally) Roger Ailes’. Whatever redemption these predators may attempt should be resisted and not allowed to succeed.

Others have successfully evaded accountability in the public eye – Mel Gibson, Terrence Howard, Mike Tyson, Ben Roethlisberger, the President of the United States – but the collective memory of women is long. I do not intend to forget.

These are the perpetrators we know. They are not outliers.

Women continue to face a consistent level of danger. Since 1999, other crimes have declined but sexual assault has remained consistent, according to Statistics Canada figures reported in the Globe and Mail. In 2014, the percentage of sexual assaults reported to police was less than one per cent. 

Of those that are reported, a Globe investigation found that police dismissed a fifth as “baseless” and thus unfounded – a dismissal rate higher than any other crime.

In Weinstein’s case, the Times reported only one case brought to police. Prosecutors declined to charge Weinstein despite taped evidence of him admitting to assault.

Too often, women carry the burden of men's violence. Identifying as a woman and being a racialized woman increases the likelihood that a woman will experience sexual and physical assault, according to studies compiled by the Wellesley Institute.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a woman is killed by an intimate partner every six days.

Yet the visibility of violence against women has not decreased the dangers for women.

Basil Borutski got in his car, drove to Carol Culleton’s house and killed her. They were friends. He killed Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam on the same day in 2015. He had dated both women. He now stands trial in Ottawa, admitting he killed them but denying it was murder.

Violence disproportionately finds women; when it does not end our lives, it marks us.

If there has been a feminist revolution, it has revealed the danger of being a woman. It has not changed the men who create that danger.

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