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The Unsettling Truth Beneath the Harvey Weinstein Allegations and Reactions

As of Thursday afternoon, 26 women have come forward with allegations that powerful Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein harassed, assaulted, or otherwise sexually abused them. The New York Times broke the story on October 5 with comment from Ashley Judd and other Hollywood actors, opening the floodgates to a string of accusations that are beginning to feel never-ending. As the story continues to unfold, a lot remains unknown or, at least, unproven. But whether Weinstein is guilty of the exact wrongdoings he is alleged to have committed, one very clear picture is beginning to emerge about how power structures within Hollywood — and, by extension, the culture at-large — are set up to let men at the top get away with heinous mistreatment of the industry’s young women (and sometimes men) who have everything to lose.

Some of the women to come forward with allegations against Weinstein are now enormously powerful superstars in their own right. Earlier this week, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie emerged as perhaps the highest-profile celebrities, so far, to report their own alleged bad experiences with Weinstein; Cara Delevingne and Kate Beckinsale have also done so since.

Meanwhile, speculators have wondered whether tweets made by the actor and artist Rose McGowan in 2016 about being raped by an unnamed “Hollywood executive” were a blind item pointing to Weinstein. Last week’s initial New York Times report named McGowan as the recipient of a $100,000 settlement from Weinstein in 1997 following what is vaguely described as “an incident in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival.” The paper reports that the official statement on the settlement asserts that the six-figure payment was “not to be construed as an admission” by Weinstein, but meant to “avoid litigation and buy peace.” In other words, a purchase of silence — though for what, we don’t know.

Since last week’s initial report, McGowan has re-entered the spotlight, sharing a petition asking the Weinstein company to completely dissolve its board (the company has since fired Harvey Weinstein), and pleading for men to be better allies and stand up for women. Some men in Hollywood did indeed go on social media to make statements about the alleged abuse, including Ben Affleck, who posted a statement to both Facebook and Twitter that said he was “saddened and angry” about the allegations of harassment, assault, and manipulation at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, which he said “made me sick.” The statement concluded: “We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behavior when we see it, and help ensure there are more women in positions of power.”

But according to McGowan, Affleck (whose Hollywood breakthrough came from the Weinstein-produced film, Good Will Hunting) had long been aware of Weinstein’s alleged record. Shortly after calling out Affleck for a second time on Twitter, McGowan took to Instagram to announce that Twitter had temporarily locked her account, sparking an uproar among a mass of mostly women supporters on the platform. (Twitter has since explained in a statement that McGowan’s account was frozen because she had violated the platform’s rules by tweeting a private phone number.)

In the meantime, Affleck himself has been singled out for gropingOne Tree Hill actress Hilarie Burton in 2003. Unlike the alleged incidents involving Weinstein, this one was caught on camera and the clip briefly circulated over social media before Affleck tweeted an apology on Wednesday. Regardless of what the actor did or did not know about whatever Harvey Weinstein was allegedly up to, this revelation certainly makes Affleck’s condemnation of “this type of behavior” come off as a little… less than convincing.

As the stories continue to come out, so do the reactions. Matt Damon gave an interview where he insisted that, while he has always been aware that “this stuff goes on in the world” and he’s never condoned it, “as the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night.”

In the stories of both the women coming forward and their male colleagues reacting after the fact, the implication runs the short gamut from impotent rage to “harassment sucks, but whatcha gonna do?” In between the lines, it’s clear the system is broken, for all of us. Powerful people will continue to abuse their power because they want to and because they can — at least, until the people surrounding them become courageous enough to hold them accountable for their behavior and to place the humanity of their colleagues at a higher premium than their own professional interests. Here’s hoping that Weinstein serves as a wake-up call, both in Hollywood and beyond.

With notes from Kelli Korducki.

Tell us what you think about the Weinstein allegations and the reactions in Hollywood @BritandCo.

(Photos via Jamie McCarthy + Stuart C. Wilson / Getty)

Elizabeth King
Elizabeth King is a politics, history, and culture writer based in the Twin Cities. She is generally pretty cranky but still enjoys traveling, music from the early 2000's, and plotting the resistance. Feel free to say hi on Twitter at @ekingc or check out some of her work at

Alright, folks. We've officially made it to fall. And if you haven't already started switching out your decor (as long as it's ready by Friendsgiving, right?) you still have time to do so. Draw inspiration from this round-up of new home products that includes harvest-inspired candles, cozy linens and textiles, and a v. practical piece of furniture. One scroll through these, and you'll have all the motivation you need to transition the seasons. Scroll on to start shopping.

Prism x LOREM Collection ($96+): Calling all Cali babes. The popular Long Beach boutique, Prism, announced a boho-fabulous collab with home decor line, LOREM, that we can't get enough of. Shop everything from plant hangers (eight options, to be exact) to artwork, all inspired by the very colorful vibes of the brands. If you were looking for a cheery way to tide you through winter, this. is. it!

Floyd Mattress (Price TBD): Fans of the cult-favorite Detroit-based brand will love their latest launch debuting on October 29. The highly-coveted Floyd Mattress will have the same made-to-last design and superior comfort as their other furnishings, tailored perfectly to fit the line's in-demand bed frame. Additional details for the mattress include a breathable foam material, highly-mobile packaging, and a low-profile design to secure your best night's sleep yet. Check back on the last week of the month to get one for yourself.

Dims 'Composed Vanity' ($595): Small space? No problem! Direct-to-consumer brand, Dims, is giving you a quick and stylish solution to your storage needs with their newest item that doubles as both a desk and vanity. The functional piece is made with non-toxic, chemical-free materials and can be assembled in seven minutes or less. Throw in four sleek shades to choose from, and this may just be your best purchase of 2019 yet!

Saatchi Art x The Citizenry Holiday Collection ($225+): Get ready to deck your walls this holiday season. Saatchi Art partnered with The Citizenry in a one-of-a-kind collection that features a curation of art across styles. Explore everything from modern to abstract creations in a selection so stunning, it's bound to spark a conversation at your next gathering.

NEST Spiced Orange & Clove Collection ($16+): If you haven't experienced the addicting aromas of the beloved NEST fragrance brand, this is the perfect time to get on board! The label recently released their latest scent — spiced orange & clove — just in time for all your gatherings. Inhale festive notes of orange pomander, spiced brandy, cinnamon, and gingered honey across their suite of candles and diffusers to bring all the good vibes to your home.

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Italic Serene Towels ($12+): The luxury brand that prides itself on using the *same* factories namesake brands (like Calvin Klein and Lacoste) use, but without the price tag behind them, brings you a new product for fall. Treat yourself to Italic's ultra-soft towel set spun from fluffy, 100% Australian cotton, in a convenient set of six. Consider it the perfect indulgence after a long soak in the tub on a cozy FNI (Friday night in)!

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