I'm hearing the news everywhere about this man I had thankfully never heard of named Harvey Weinstein. I guess I had never heard of him because I am not in the "who's who" crowd of Hollywood, nor do I have much interest in Hollywood, for that matter.
Nevertheless, I don't need to be in Hollywood, or personally know Harvey Weinstein, to know Harvey. After all, any woman who has taken a breath and walked this Earth knows Harvey. Over the past 50 years of life, I have run into Harvey in the neighborhood where I grew up, on the playground, at the beach, and on the basketball court and ball fields. I have run into him at every school I've attended, walking down a street, in stores, in bars, in churches and many, many times at work. I have run into Harvey everywhere!
The scariest place I ran into Harvey was when I was in college at age 19, on a sidewalk in a park at night. But, really, when I think back, it is not Harvey that bothers me so much anymore — it was the response I received when I went for help. When I told the professors in charge about the Harvey I experienced in the park, they first asked me what I was doing walking on the sidewalk in the park at night. (Who did I think I was, a man?) Then they asked what I was wearing, if I said something to him, if I was drinking. No one went to the police or suggested I file a report. (Because to go to the police meant drawing negative attention on them.) No adult followed up with me. They told me to "be more careful" and to "not walk alone at night." Everyone just went on with life and forgot about Harvey.
Except me. I remember Harvey and the lesson I learned from that experience. What I learned formed how I responded when applying for a job a few years later. Harvey asked me why I thought I deserved the salary I was asking for as I "was a single woman with no one else to support." Did I tell anyone? Why would I tell anyone? If I told someone, I wouldn't get the job, and I really needed the job.
Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at sensing who Harvey is, just from watching from afar. Sometimes I can avoid Harvey, but other times I must deal with him. It is so very annoying to have to deal with Harvey, but I have just gotten used to it. All women have gotten used to it; it feels normal, kind of like a mass shooting now feels normal. The shock and rage we feel when first hearing about it feels normal now, expected. We respond like it was some sort of natural disaster that we can't do anything about. But shootings are not a natural disaster, and Harvey is not a natural disaster. We can do something about it.
Every woman out there has been dealing with Harvey her whole life. Harvey is so normal that America elected a known Harvey to be the president. A past president survived being a Harvey (his accuser, not so much).
So why would a woman speak up when she knows others will somehow find a way to blame her, point the finger at her, destroy her, and she would have to give up a good job in the process? Don't get me wrong — I think women should speak up. But in speaking up, you also give up a lot. Not everyone can give up their reputation, career, friendships, money, sanity and peace.
For there to be Harvey, there also must be people and a society supporting him. People who overtly support him (attorneys, accountants and friends), silently support him (women and men who work for him, know and say nothing) and passively support him. There also must be all of those women out there who immediately upon hearing the news of Harvey said, well, those women were _____ (you fill in the blank).
Harvey did not do this on his own. Every Harvey has other men and women willing to look the other way, to support him, to take his money, to bow down to him because he is influential, important, rich or just because he is a man. It has been going on for years. We are trained to think it is normal.
I'm so happy that this is happening to Harvey. I am happy they are making a big deal out of it. However, I am laughing inside at how shocked the women news anchors are acting when they report it. Because, really, people, those anchor women know Harvey very well. However, they also like their jobs.
Harvey is not going away. Not until we as women can accept a woman calling a man out without turning and pointing the finger at her. Not until we can speak about the Harvey we met and have everyone in society not look at us, but at Harvey, and say loudly and publicly: "That is not OK," no matter how powerful, rich, important, influential or popular he is. No matter how we were dressed, what time it was or where we were.
Mary Nicklawske, of White Bear Lake, is the owner of Compass Mobility.