Tag Archives: Harvey Weinstein

Best Books of 2019

To say that I am a bookworm is an understatement. As you might expect, I’ve read quite a few books this year.

Without further adieu, my list of the best books of 2019 is below.

  1. The Women of the 116th Congress: Portraits of Power: This book is #1 because it represents how far American women have come and how far we need to go before we are truly equal. In celebrating the success of these female politicians, the authors are paving the way for the next generation of women to represent their country.
  2. The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught In Between: This compelling and true story of one small town and it’s Jewish residents during World War II is as compelling as any fiction novel of the Holocaust.
  3. Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II: Telling the story of Audrey Hepburn‘s childhood during World War II, this book is a must-read for both movie junkies and history nerds alike.
  4. Summer of ’69: History is not just facts in a book. It the lives and experiences of those who lived through that period. In telling the story of one specific family, the summer of 1969 comes alive.
  5. Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators: The revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s actions two years ago was appalling and world-changing. In bringing his actions to the light, the authors are giving his victims what should have been theirs in the first place.
  6. Unmarriageable: A Novel: This adaptation of Pride & Prejudice set in Pakistan proves why Austen’s novels are universally loved and rebooted time and again.
  7. The Mother of the Brontes: When Maria met Patrick: The previously untold story of Maria Bronte (nee Branwell) is a fascinating story of the women who would bring Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte into the world.
  8. Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman: It takes guts to be yourself. It takes even more guts when being yourself means that you are no longer part of the community you grew up in.
  9. She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement: The reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein scandal knew what they were up against. They also knew how important it was for the public to know the truth.
  10. The Winemaker’s Wife: Love and betrayal are enough to handle. Add in war and you have this marvelous novel set in France during World War II.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Movies, Pride and Prejudice

Cry Me a River, Harvey Weinstein

Sexual assault and sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, is sadly nothing new.

When the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal hit the press two years ago, it was nothing short of earth-shattering. After a millennia of women not being heard about sexual misconduct by their male bosses, it was revelation.

Yesterday, Weinstein sat down with several newspapers and complained about his ruined reputation.

His childlike defense was the following:

“I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago. I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it!” he bragged.

Cry me a river. He knew what he was doing. He knew that he was literally dangling work over their heads in return for sex. He is only crying foul because he got caught and lost everything.

I have a message for Mr. Weinstein. Grow up, grow a pair and admit what you did. An adult admits when they did something wrong. A child not only refuses to admit their error of their ways, they blame others and cast themselves as the victims. Care to guess which one Mr. Weinstein is?

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Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators Book Review

When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in 2017, it did not break out of thin air. Getting the story to the public took time, effort and going against powerful people who would do almost anything to keep the story out of the news.

Ronan Farrow was one of those reporters. In his new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Farrow walks the reader through the process of reporting the story of the Weinstein scandal and the major barriers that were in his way. Back in 2017, Farrow was working for NBC. What started out as a routine investigation blew up into a news story that revealed a dark side of our culture that few were willing and/or able to expose.

Though this book is non-fiction, it reads like a spy thriller. The scary thing about this book goes well beyond what Weinstein did. The scary thing is that he had accomplishes who actively helped to bury the story. To my eyes, it says that men like Weinstein still hold all of the cards. The women he attacked and intimidated are powerless.

However, there is a glimmer of hope. There are good people in this world, like Ronan Farrow, who despite the challenges, are willing to stand up for what is right.

If only there were more like him.

I absolutely recommend it.

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She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement Book Review

Throughout history, there has been an obvious power imbalance between men and women. Especially when it came to sex.

When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in 2017, it forever changed the way that rape and sexual assault are viewed. But bringing that story to the front page was not easy. In the new book, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, New York Times writers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey recount the months long and difficult process of bringing this story to the public.

For decades, there were whispers within Hollywood about producer Harvey Weinstein. But as soon as reports surfaced of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they were put down as mere rumor. That is until Kantor and Twohey started digging. That digging opened a Pandora’s box of truth, lies and the people who would do almost anything to close that box again.

This book reads like a fictional thriller instead of a real story. It is a heart pounding roller coaster ride until the very end of the book. We know how the story ends, but there were so many blockages for Kantor and Twohey that I started to wonder if justice would finally prevail. When I finally finished the book, I was relieved that Weinstein was finally getting what was coming to him.

The thing that strikes me about this book and this story is that it is universal among women. The women who come forward in this book tell the same story, with minor details changed for their specific narrative. They range from Hollywood A-listers to fast food workers to teenage girls assaulted by their drunk male classmates. If nothing else, I think that this book and others of this nature are a starting point for a conversation that is more than overdue.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment Book Review

Since the beginning of human history, men have used sex to gain power over women. But thanks the hard work of generations of women, the power imbalance is starting to even out.

In the new book, Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment, by Linda Hirshman, explores how women have fought back against sexual harassment and have slowly began to win the war.

Ms. Hirshman starts her book in the 1970’s, when women began to talk to each other and organize against men who took advantage of their female subordinates. She then moves forward in time highlighting a number of accusations of rape and/or sexual harassment against prominent men and the women who were brave enough to go public with the accusations. The list includes the 1991 Clarence Thomas Hearings and the accusations by Anita Hill, the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton Scandal, and the multiple women claimed that Harvey Weinstein took advantage of them sexually.

Reckoning is a perfect title for this book. While telling the story of these brave and bold women, Ms. Hirshman inspires the reader to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. She also pulls no punches, calling out politicians on both sides of the aisle, women who stay silent and men who continue to perpetuate this heinous act.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Thoughts On Joe Biden’s Run For the 2020 Presidential Election

For months, former Vice President Joe Biden was on the top of the leader board as the Democrat who had the best chance to defeat you know who come next fall. But he had yet to confirm or deny that he was running for President. Today, he confirmed that he is running for President.

I have to be honest. I have mixed feelings about this announcement.

One could argue that among the Democratic candidates, he is politically one of the most qualified to run the country. He has been in government for nearly fifty years, eight of those  years were as Vice President under Barack Obama. As a liberal Democrat, Biden checks off many of the boxes that liberal/Democratic voters look for in a Presidential nominee.

But still, there a few things that bother me.

His actions during the Anita Hill hearing don’t sit well with me. Granted, it was decades ago, the hope is that he has changed and learned from his mistakes. But it still bothers me that instead of giving this woman a chance to tell her story, she was treated like dirt.

The accusations of being too touchy with certain women. Granted, he did not go as far as Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer, but the fact that did not recognize the boundaries of personal space by these women sends alarm bells off in my head.

Do we really want another old White man serving the highest office in the land? It’s 2019, it’s time to give a woman or a person of color the opportunity to run this country. My fear is that many voters will default to Biden because he is the standard political leader instead of giving another candidate a shot at becoming President.

It’s only April, we won’t know for at least a year as to whom will win the nomination. But whoever they are, they had better be in for a fight, because you know who never backs down from a fight.

 

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Thoughts On The Joe Biden Accusations

Sexual assault and sexual harassment has been part of the human experience for an untold number of generations. Thankfully, things are starting to change for the better.

Though former Vice President Joe Biden has not formally announced that he will be running for President for the 2020 Presidential election, the polls over the past few weeks have labeled him as the front-runner among the Democratic candidates.

The hitch, in this potential Presidential run, is that he has been accused of inappropriately touching at least two women. Granted, the nature of the accusations are not as harsh as the accusations against Harvey Weinstein were, but it’s clear that Vice President Biden crossed boundaries that he should have never crossed.

I wish I knew where we could go from here to completely eradicate sexual assault and sexual harassment. We can only legislate and litigate to a certain point. The rest of the journey requires a societal level consciousness about where boundaries lay between men and women. Legislation and litigation is the easy part. Changing the way we view each other and respecting boundaries, that is going to take much more time and effort on the part of all of us.

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Add Another One To The List XII: Les Moonves And Chris Hardwick

Since last fall, the backlash against rich and powerful men accused of sexual assault and/or harassment has been swift and powerful. Men who thought they could get away with such acts without repercussions are finally being forced to admit to their crimes. The newest men added to this dishonorable list is CEO chairman Les Moonves and  comic/podcast host Chris Hardwick.

Last week, Mr. Moonves was accused of using the casting couch to fill his sexual needs in return for work. In June, Mr. Hardwick was accused of abusing and blacklisting an ex-girlfriend.

The accusations against Mr. Moonves are still fresh. Only time will tell if he receives the same statement as Harvey Weinstein or if he is exonerated. As of this week, Mr. Hardwick has been cleared of the charges.

I feel like at this point, our collective response should not be all fire and fury. But that also depends on the severity of the charge. The response to the accusations against Aziz Ansari should not be the same response to Harvey Weinstein.  But that doesn’t mean that they can get away with it.

The message should be clear. Sexual assault and harassment by both men and women will not be tolerated. Those accused of such acts and found guilty will receive a punishment that fits the crime.

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RIP Anthony Bourdain

The black dog, as Winston Churchill put it, has struck again.

On Wednesday, the dog claimed the life of designer Kate Spade. This morning, the life the dog took was that of chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain. He was 61.

He was found in his hotel room in France where he was filming a future episode for his CNN series, Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.

Depression and mental illness is not a joke. At best, the person suffering lives as best they can. At worst, they take their own life, causing their loved ones to ask questions that can never be answered.

My heart breaks for those who knew him on a personal level, especially his young daughter and his girlfriend, Asia Argento. Ms. Argento is one of the woman who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault.

I know what it is like to live with the black dog.  It sits on my lap all day, every day. If your reading this post and you also have the black dog sitting on your lap, please get help. If not for your sake, but for the ones you love.

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Add Another One To The List XI: Morgan Freeman

Sometimes it takes public shaming for things to finally change. The list of powerful or famous men accused of unwanted sexual assault has grown again. Morgan Freeman is the newest name on this dishonorable list.

Sixteen people have accused him of either sexual assault or inappropriate behavior. Four of those who have made such accusations are journalists whom Mr. Freeman has been interviewed by during press junkets. They have accused him of making inappropriate remarks during their interviews. Chloe Melas, who is the co-author of the CNN article linked to above, stated that Mr. Freeman acted inappropriately towards her while promoting his 2017 film, Going in Style.

Based on the evidence presented, I don’t think that Mr. Freeman went as far as Harvey Weinstein did, however, that does not exonerate him. Mr. Freeman’s actions and words are a symptom of a much larger cultural perspective that still views women as sexual objects, regardless of whether actions follow the words spoken.

As much as I respect Mr. Freeman for his career, sometimes we must make public examples of bad behavior to make it clear that such words or actions are unacceptable.  Unfortunately, the public example that must be made in this case is Morgan Freeman, whose lapse in judgement reminds us all that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated and those who still act in such a manner will be punished appropriately.

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