Opinion  |  

Harvey Weinstein and the male gaze

Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood mogul. Roger Ailes, the Fox News guru. Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy.

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The list of alpha males who preyed on women on an industrial scale, using their power over vulnerable people to have sex with them, grows daily.

The Financial Times’ John Gapper points out that the we might reward these male personality types: in Hollywood, he says, “displays of male dominance are treated not as a regrettable side effect of creativity but as a routine part of how business gets done. This does not just describe Hollywood: the powerful and capricious chief executive with broad freedom to act as he or see chooses is a feature of much of the media industry. There is good reason: one US study found that companies gain from having strong leaders when they are in unstable industries in which decisions must be made rapidly and there is a threat of new entrants.”

Australians should not take any comfort that these powerful but tragically sinful men are some sort of exotic species.

Australian males cannot look on and think this is an overseas problem.

Sadly, it only takes this observer seconds to think of Australian cases that for obvious legal reasons won’t have names attached.

The media organisation (let’s call it company A) where top executives competed with each other to have sex with young female staffers. The football club with rampant group sex. And in contrast, another media organisation where a brave woman caused one of the executives (who came over from company A) to be sacked for sexual harassment. And then there is Channel 7.

I mention mostly media companies because that’s the industry I know best. Please add your own observations, I am sure many of you can.

Christians cannot say it is not a problem for churches and welfare institutions that bear the name of Christ.

Australian males cannot look on and think this is an overseas problem. There will be “Weinsteins” in any organisation that gives great power and free rein to leaders. And given the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Christians cannot say it is not a problem for churches and welfare institutions that bear the name of Christ.

If you feel like blushing as you read this, that is the point. We know this stuff is wrong. The tenth commandment “You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife” is enough.

Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post editor in the Watergate era, tells of ogling women with his friend (President) John F. Kennedy: “Benny if we could just run wild”. Bradlee maintains he was unaware of Kennedy’s sex antics at that stage which included an affair with Bradlee’s sister in law.

The “male gaze” is something women are aware of and many find it demeaning, and even harmful.

Most men are like Bradlee and Kennedy. We look at women. The “male gaze” is something women are aware of and many find it demeaning, and even harmful.

As Jesus, and that later US President Jimmy Carter, point out, that “amounts to adultery in the heart.”

A rather inconvenient statement, because it interrupts our self-satisfaction at not being a Harvey Weinstein, a Roger Ailes, a Silvio Berlusconi or a Donald Trump.

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