17 Oct 2017

Weinstein debates are confusing judgement with law breaking

One of Harvey Weinstein's victims is Asia Argento, an Italian who has suffered unacceptable attacks of victim blaming in our country. But this level of discussion is incorrect: this is a matter of rights, not morals.

Cinzia Sciuto
Cinzia Sciuto MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Weinstein debates are confusing judgement with law breaking - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

The story of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is already known all over the world. But one of the actresses involved, Asia Argento, is Italian and has suffered unacceptable attacks of victim blaming in our country.

In other words, the Italian debate has deviated from what is the point of the matter -- a powerful man who expects sexual favors in exchange for bolstering women’s careers -- towards a series of moral considerations about how “dirty” the cinema scene is, and how the women involved “knew the rules of the game”.

But this level of discussion is incorrect: this is a matter of rights, not morals.

Morals are tied to the private values according to which we live our lives, and judge the lives of others. In their proper place, they are perfectly legitimate, and allow each of us to find direction in making choices.

Rights, on the other hand, are a public matter. They are tied to the framework of fundamental principles which guarantee a civil coexistence. They give a woman (a person in general, of course, but this issue mostly concerns women) the right not to be pressured, or blackmailed -- even implicitly -- by more powerful men eager to claim sexual favors in exchange for career advancement.

This right should be part of the fundamental principles of our coexistence framework, and should have nothing to do with the lifestyle of the woman in question -- whether we like it or not. It should have nothing to do with her subsequent choices, including continuing to work with her rapist and waiting twenty years to report her rape.

From the point of view of rights, it is inconceivable not to be on Asia Argento’s side, or on the side of any of the actresses who denounced Weinstein and opened the Pandora’s box that Hollywood kept tightly closed all these years. Someone has finally called out “The emperor is naked” and there can be no going back.  

How these women have behaved in the bargain they were offered is irrelevant. Their rights were violated.

Victim blaming is a particularly pernicious form of violence that is still widely spread in Italy, stemming from the patriarchal mentality that still permeates our country.

Details from the story:

  • Harvey Weinstein is one of Hollywood's most powerful filmmakers
  • As a result of the scandal, on October 9, 2017 Weinstein was fired by the company he co-founded.
  • Following these accusations, Weinstein was also expelled from the Academy Award and French President Emmanuel Macron initiated a motion to revoke his Legion of Honor
  • On October 6, 2017, an investigation by the New York Times accused him of sexual harassing several actresses, including Italian citizen Asia Argento
  • The Italian press has blamed Asia Argento for her rape
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