Kick Against the Pricks

It turns out that in the tallest skyscrapers and plushest hotels of the most advanced economies, many high-profile men have been acting the part of feudal lords, demanding droit du seigneur from their vassals, the vassals in this case being their female employees and others wishing entry into their fiefdoms. Evidently there’s been a covert system of taxation on female advancement in the work world, with the unluckier among us obligated to render not just the usual fealty demanded by overweening bosses but varying degrees of sexual homage too, from ego-stroking and fluffing (which is gross enough), to being grabbed and groped, to the expectation of silence about full-on rape.

.. historians have written extensively on the importance of gossip and its venues, such as coffeehouses, in fomenting previous revolutions

.. Every revolution has its weapons of choice—once it was muskets and guillotines, this time around it’s “sharing” and media exposure. It wasn’t heads that were rolling, it was careers: contracts yanked, deals canceled, agents quitting, e-mail accounts shuttered.

.. When the Times recently compiled the names of twenty-four prominent men accused of sexual harassment, it did rather bring to mind the spectacle of heads on a pike in a public square

.. If recent events tell us anything, it’s that power is a social agreement, not a stable entity. The despots had power because they did things that were socially valued and profitable, but the terms of the agreement can shift abruptly.

.. Social upheavals like the current one—chaotic and improvised, yet destined—happen when certain echelons retract their consent to existing conditions and make new demands. Gramsci calls it “war of position.” Toppling power isn’t about storming the Bastille these days, it’s about changing the way people talk and think. If our upheavals come dressed in different garb, creating a crisis of authority for those in power is still how the world changes.

.. But speaking of unlikely agents, that one of the more significant battlefield wins recently was achieved by a former Miss America, Gretchen Carlson, is tough for those who’d prefer their feminist victories to come from women with better feminist credentials.

.. Unfortunately you won’t learn any of this from Be Fierce—you don’t get $20 million without a nondisclosure agreement.

.. It’s from Sherman we learn that Carlson secretly recorded her meetings with Ailes on her phone for a year and a half—including his remark that the two of them should have had sex long ago to resolve their differences, spoken sometime before she was fired (after an eleven-year stint as a newscaster) and sometime after she lodged complaints about the climate of sexism at Fox, for which Ailes labeled her a “man hater” and demoted her.

.. The less job security you have, the worse it is; fast food workers are especially vulnerable.

.. Women who come forward are likely to be passed over for promotions and good assignments, or find their jobs mysteriously eliminated.

.. On rare occasions when a boss-harasser is actually fired, the woman who brought him down often gets treated like a leper by his allies. The majority of those who report harassment end up in different jobs, which makes it understandable that, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 70 percent of women who are harassed don’t report it.

.. Have a plan before you go to HR or you’ll find your options predetermined; you may have a mandatory arbitration clause in your employment contract you don’t know about

.. Trump himself boasts of barging into dressing rooms in the Miss Teen USA contest to gape at unclothed teenage girls. Upon purchasing the Miss USA franchise, he says, he “made the heels higher and the bathing suits smaller.”

.. The “idealized pedestal” Miss America gets put on is itself a form of disempowerment, Carlson eventually came to realize. True, and if you flip to your local Fox affiliate, you’ll see the same compliant femininity distilled to its purest iteration. Like beauty contestants, the women of Fox are hired on the basis of looks, then laminated into near mannequins.

.. The point is that the way Ailes expected “his” women to dress makes clear the role they were expected to play: receptacles

.. If those who signed on had difficulty speaking out about harassment in the workplace because they felt shame regarding the trade-offs they’d made—and many have said that they did—shame is what women are meant to feel in this equation.

.. The convenience of misogyny is that men are spared from hating themselves because they have women to hate instead.

.. You want to know when to tell someone to shut up and when to jump out of a moving car.

This would also involve the ability to distinguish between force and power.

.. Those who didn’t buy into it seem to have fared better. The actress Lupita Nyong’o recalled several encounters with Weinstein in an essay for The New York Times. When he trotted out his familiar moves, she refused to play the expected role: when he asked to give her a massage, she turned the tables and gave him one instead, consciously putting herself in control of the situation. When he tried taking off his pants, she walked to the door, not giving him the satisfaction of seeming intimidated. And he backed down. She seems to have understood that Weinstein may have had power over her career, but he didn’t have power over her, and making that distinction gave her more options for negotiating a bad situation.

.. Anthony Weiner has been the public face of the sexual tic for some years now: a man of demonstrable intelligence under the sway of a compulsion so intellectually disabling that after a string of previous life-wrecking exposures, he still allowed himself to be set up once again, this time by a fifteen-year-old. Anyone could have seen from ten miles away that it was a frame—anyone but Weiner, that is. (The girl later said she was trying to influence the course of the 2016 presidential election, which she probably did—James Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails after seizing Weiner’s computer once his new friend turned him in.)

.. feminist Dorothy Dinnerstein’s The Mermaid and the Minotaur (1976): the problem for men is that they had mothers.

.. Mother-dominated child-rearing, thought Dinnerstein, is the reason behind men’s loathing of women and everything culturally inscribed as female

.. men can’t give up ruling the world until women cease to have a monopoly on ruling childhood. To push Dinnerstein’s speculations to an even gloomier place: do mothers take out on their sons the abuses they themselves have suffered at the hands of men?

..  Online feminism is itself a playground of bullying and viperishness, most of it under the banner of rectitude.

 

How Liz Smith invented Donald Trump

Liz Smith claimed to have invented Donald Trump, and in a powerful and enduring way, she did.

.. The legendary gossip columnist, who died Sunday at 94, started delivering her daily dish about New York celebrities in 1976, the same year the brash Australian press lord Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post and transformed it into a British-style splash of lurid headlines, crime-drenched reporting and juicy gossip.

.. Smith and Trump were made for each other. She was a kinder, gentler gossipmonger, winning access to celebrities by telling the stories they wanted told rather than the more slashing tidbits that turned some columnists into personae non gratae among the boldface names. And he was a young real estate mogul hungry to establish himself as one of the city’s biggest names.

.. Trump had been schooled in the art of manipulating the news media by his mentor Roy Cohn, the New York lawyer who had launched his own career in the 1950s by enlisting the 20th century’s greatest gossip columnist, Walter Winchell, as a booster for Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s communist-hunting crusade.

.. Cohn had urged him to cultivate the gossip columnists, to make appearances at the right nightspots, to make certain that he was being seen and recorded with the hottest models and rising stars on his arm.

.. Trump used the tabloids to establish himself as a champion of the little guy. “When we would talk particularly to immigrants, recent immigrants who were the readers of the Daily News, they would always want to know about Donald Trump,” said News gossip columnist George Rush. “He embodied the American Dream to them. Excessive conspicuous consumption is not a bad thing in New York to a lot of people.”

.. The tabloid war was on, as Smith wrote about nothing but the Trumps for several months, trading scoops with the Post’s Cindy Adams, who took Donald’s side as Smith became an advocate for her own source, Ivana.

.. The Daily News plastered Trump split stories on the front page for 12 days in a row; the Post responded with eight consecutive Trump headlines on Page One.

.. The stories were a bonanza for the newspapers, and Trump later said that the divorce episode put him on the celebrity map, despite any pain that may have stemmed from having his personal life exposed. “Liz Smith used to kiss my ass so much it was embarrassing,” Trump wrote

.. The Ivana-and-Donald story made Smith a star, establishing her as the highest-paid print journalist in the country. And it lifted Trump to a new level of fame and infamy. He relished the idea that he was the talk of the town, both in the boardrooms from which he’d always felt excluded and in the barrooms where, he believed, middle-class New Yorkers aspired to be like him.

 

Yes, This Is a Witch Hunt. I’m a Witch and I’m Hunting You.

It’s also totally clear why Allen felt untouchable enough to add that even if he had believed the “horror stories,” he wouldn’t have been interested, let alone concerned, because he is a serious man busy making serious man-art. He said people wouldn’t bother coming to him anyway, because, as he described it: “You’re not interested in it. You are interested in making your movie.” (That last bit is fair, actually. If I’d been sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, literally my last instinct would be to go to Woody Allen for help.)

.. there is no injustice quite so unnaturally, viscerally grotesque as a white man being fired.

.. Donald Trump, our predator in chief, seems to view the election of Barack Obama as a white man being fired. He and his supporters are willing to burn the world in revenge.

.. the pathetic gall of men feeling hunted after millenniums of treating women like prey

.. So, Mr. Allen et al., I know you hate gossip and rumor mills, but unfortunately they’re the only recourse we have.

..  In a just system, the abuse wouldn’t have stayed an open secret for decades while he was left free to chew through generation after generation of starlets. Weinstein’s life, like Cosby’s, isn’t the story of some tragic, pitiable downfall. It’s the story of someone who got away with it.

.. The witches are coming, but not for your life. We’re coming for your legacy.

.. We don’t have the justice system on our side; we don’t have institutional power; we don’t have millions of dollars or the presidency; but we have our stories, and we’re going to keep telling them

Violence. Threats. Begging. Harvey Weinstein’s 30-year pattern of abuse in Hollywood.

“Everyone knew these stories,” one Hollywood publicist said. “Not the specifics. But people knew it was a hostile work environment, and that he was a bully to people. Because he could win you an Oscar, we were all supposed to look the other way.”

.. when the New Yorker published a 2015 audio recording of Weinstein trying to lure a model into his hotel room, Brewer was stopped cold.

.. Weinstein, enraged that he had been out of pocket for a few hours, lunged at him and began punching him in the head, Brewer said; the skirmish tumbled into the corridor and then the elevator. By the time Brewer reached the street, intent on never associating with the Weinsteins again, he said, Harvey was pleading for him to stay and help ensure that their film got launched.

.. “Listening to the audiotape, it gave me this visceral reaction to my experience that day,” Brewer said by phone Thursday. “This alternating between violence, threats, commands and then begging, mock-crying, trying anything — any angle to get what he wanted.”

.. a genius of promotion who persuaded Oscar voters to pick his lighthearted “Shakespeare in Love” over epic front-runner “Saving Private Ryan” as best picture in 1999.

.. He had a “funny, whiny” voice, and was often bullied, according to former classmates, but he was persistent, sure of himself, an operator.

.. “He was supremely confident, and not worried about any repercussions,” the friend recalled. “It was like, ‘Eh, if they catch me, so what, I’ll do it again.’ ”

.. Weinstein went into business with his brother, first as concert promoters and later

.. “Don’t mention the competition on the air. Don’t put two car ads in the same segment,” she said this past week. “And, if you’re a young woman, don’t be alone with Harvey Weinstein.”

.. His job then wasn’t to make movies but to discover them and get them into theaters. His forcefulness was a boon for independent and foreign films that lacked bankable names. He would be their star, their champion, deploying a brassy, fearless persona to conduct cutthroat negotiations and impassioned publicity campaigns.

.. “Harvey has a bargaining quality, a back-and-forth bullying that makes you just go ‘okay,’ she explained. She jumped out of their taxi blocks later and ran inside a bar, begging the bartender to pretend that he was her boyfriend.

.. “He’s very seductive at the start,” Leight said. “You think he understands you and your destiny is about to change.”

.. But Weinstein’s behavior was erratic. Leight said Weinstein pressured him to ask an actress to “show tit” on screen, though the script required no nudity.

.. In retrospect, he said, the abusive tactics that Weinstein used with women were in line with those he used with directors and male employees: the domination, the cycle of eruptions followed by contrition, the swagger, accompanied by shows of neediness.

“It’s absolutely the same behavior,” Leight said.

..  the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel, where the New York-based producer often stayed, and where many of his alleged assaults were said to have taken place.

.. people knew that if you had worked there, you could put up with anything.”

.. West Coast employees employed a system of alerts, passed along by whisper, to prepare for the boss’s arrival.

Harvey is coming.

Harvey is five minutes out.

Harvey is on a kick about “Tulip Fever.” If you haven’t seen it, make sure you do now.

.. One preparation — described by multiple individuals and recognized as both practical and ridiculous — was to hide all the office candy bowls.

“He would take and eat them all and his blood sugar would spike,” the former employee explained. “We were trying to control his moods.”

.. The mood swings, the employee said, were frequent and relentless. Workers discussed in hushed tones how to manage them.

.. “It was not clear that he was assaulting people,” the former employee said. “But was it clear that he was trading his power for sexual favors? Yes.”

.. “What you have to understand is, Harvey was somebody who everybody who worked there didn’t like,” another former employee said. “Talking s— about Harvey was the normal course of action. He’s disgusting. He’s rude. He has food on his shirt.”

.. Weinstein’s blatant bad behavior managed to mask his more insidious tendencies. In other words, you didn’t believe he could be any worse in private than you had seen him behave in public.

.. Some women who have made claims against Weinstein have alleged that his assistants were facilitators of his behavior, or said they were in the room immediately before he assaulted them.

.. “I just thought we were seeing the bad end of a bad temper,” said one industry professional, who often encountered him over several decades. “I once watched him fire his whole staff at an awards show. It was one of the worst things I’ve witnessed — they were running away in tears and crying in parking lots.”

.. “Here’s a man who would take a little film that couldn’t and make it into hits that won Oscars,” said the publicist who watched Weinstein fire his entire staff. “He wasn’t the only one to do that, but he had a really good track record. Sometimes, to do that, you have to be a steamroller. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. I think it’s wrong.” A pause. “I’m sure it’s wrong.”

.. “He said, ‘What have you heard about me?’” Masters said. “And I said, ‘I’ve heard you rape women.’ ”

Weinstein responded, Masters said, “with neither shock nor anger.”

.. Masters said the magazine tried “really hard” to publish a report on Weinstein’s sexual behavior a few years ago. But the source backed out, leaving it without on-the-record corroboration of festering rumors.

.. Harvey was the Trump of the movie industry. He knew what was a good story. He knew how it worked. He knew what a deadline was. He knew about the caring and feeding of gossip columns.”

..  a frequent source of scoops and celebrity gossip for tabloid papers.

.. Many Weinstein-watchers took note of what seemed to be an orchestrated media campaign against Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, the model who accused Weinstein of groping her in a Tribeca hotel room in 2015.

.. The New York Post published photos of her in a bikini and labeled her “Grope Beauty” on its cover. Its Page Six column reported that a police source said there was no physical evidence for Gutierrez’s claim. In fact, Gutierrez had worn a hidden police microphone and recorded Weinstein apologizing to her for the incident.

.. Weinstein had a knack for flattering reporters. He once had his staff put together a mock poster for “Page Six: The Movie” — starring George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson and Matt Damon as the column’s authors — and sent it to the newsroom.

.. Weinstein “cajoled and threatened” him when he wouldn’t kill an item about Weinstein’s divorce from Eve. Weinstein first tried to trade the item for another bit of gossip, Grove said, and next threatened to ban him from Miramax’s film screenings. Grove said he could buy his own movie tickets.

.. Eventually, Grove said, Weinstein backed down when he realized he had no leverage. But first, he said something Grove said “should be embroidered on a pillow. He said, ‘I’m the scariest m—–f—– you’ll ever have as an enemy in this town.’ ”

.. He implied that she needed him. He’d set up a Hollywood world in which everyone needed him.

.. I had dinner with this guy and it turns out he is everything I stand against.”

.. fundraisers alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, the premiere of “Shakespeare in Love” with Hillary Clinton on his arm.

.. His personal giving was dwarfed by that of many other showbiz moguls — only $1.8 million since 1979. But when President Bill Clinton sought help for his legal-defense fund during the Monica Lewinsky saga, Weinstein cut a $10,000 check.

.. Brown, who said she had never heard anything but milder rumors about Weinstein, called the election “a tipping point for a great many women.”

.. lawyer Gloria Allred. She is representing several of Weinstein’s accusers, but said she has “also been getting calls about other men in Hollywood. Studio executives, A-list actors. Big names. Names you would know.”

.. Though she represented more than 30 of Cosby’s victims, she said she suspects “this is going to be bigger. It’s a tsunami.”

.. he championed his boys — and there were no female voices in there.

.. The lack of female voices in Hollywood, Delavigne said, is “a more entrenched danger, and entrenched culture.” A common note she receives from producers, during the screenwriting process, is to make her female characters more “likable.” That one word, she said, epitomizes the film industry’s attitude about women.

.. “It is not ‘likable’ for a woman to say ‘no,’ to say ‘you can’t do that,’ ” Delavigne said. “That is not likable. That is not charming. That is not sweet.”

.. “He had just a very forceful way of going about things,”

.. “He forces himself on you, talks you into it and doesn’t leave you with an option.”

.. He was both needy and abusive