The conviction of Harvey Weinstein for rape and sexual harassment ought to be a spur for a war against sexism everywhere.
After a seven-week trial and years of accusations, Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison and further charges of assaulting two women in Los Angeles.
His prosecution is a testament to the courage of the women who came forward with allegations.
And his convictions come after victims were forced to endure horrific treatment at the hands of Weinstein’s legal team.
His lawyers subjected accusers and witnesses to questioning that suggested they were to blame for Weinstein’s behaviour.
It was a reminder of how the legal system doesn’t support victims through the arduous process.
Weinstein was handcuffed and due to be taken to a prison on Rikers Island, but was diverted to a hospital after claiming he was suffering from heart palpitations.
His trial was a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement that exploded in 2017.
Civil rights activist and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, said, “The implications reverberate far beyond Hollywood and into the daily lives of all of us”.
In the wake of over 80 allegations against Weinstein millions of women took to social media to demand an end to the silence around sexual violence.
Mass public pressure from the #MeToo movement created a climate where powerful people can be held to account.
Cyrus Vance, Manhattan District Attorney, praised the accusers for coming forward.
“This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America and this is a new day,” he said.
There’s a sense now that the time is up for sexual offenders.
It is welcome there has been a change in social attitudes—but sexism is not gradually fading away. As abhorrent as Weinstein is, he doesn’t stand alone. His behaviour—which many have now said was an open secret within the industry—was ignored by many who knew what he was doing.
With Weinstein behind bars, what now?
Although this week’s court ruling was important, the battle against sexist oppression has to continue on the streets, in the trade unions, in the staff room—everywhere.
Every sexist has to be made to feel uncomfortable. This lies in challenging each individual instance of oppressive language or behaviour.
But it also means coming together—men and women—to robustly take on women’s oppression.
The Women’s Marches and protests against rape in Chile are important collective responses to sexual harassment.
But there’s still a battle for ideas. It’s likely the verdict will spur the same right wing commentators who decried #MeToo two years ago to pen columns attacking the movement.
Weinstein’s conviction matters. But sexual violence flows from our violent class society, where women are treated as sexual objects.
So the battle has to continue to rage against sexual harassment, and take in demands about equal pay, proper childcare and reproductive rights.
The demands of #MeToo are as urgent as ever—and should be fought alongside the struggle for a world of liberation for everyone.
It is possible to live in a socialist world free of oppression, where rape and sexual violence are not a feature.
Women’s oppression is structured into capitalism and class society—so the battle also needs to be waged for revolutionary transformation.
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