‘Two Decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverley Hills hotel.’ New York Times
On 5th October 2017, the New York Times published an article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey that helped change the world. For months Kantor and Twohey had been having confidential discussions with top actresses, former Weinstein employees and other sources, learning of disturbing, long buried allegations. The journalists meticulously picked their way through a web of decades-old secret payouts and non disclosure agreements, encouraged some of the most famous women in the world – and some unknown ones – to risk going on the record, and faced down Weinstein, his team of high-priced defenders, and even his private investigators.
In She Said, Kantor and Twohey relive in real-time what it took to break the story and give an up-close portrait of the forces they were up against. They describe the experiences of the women who spoke up – for the sake of other women, for future generations, and for themselves.
Their stories have never been told in this way before.
A dense and important book documenting the investigation into Harvey Weinstein. Most are familiar with the case, but this book goes much deeper, detailing the experiences of women and their silence for many years. A book about Sexual Abuse and Rape, and about Power and Sexual Harassment.
Harvey Weinstein seemed indiscriminate in his choice of victim, although they were all young / new with little power, and I was struck whilst reading by his persistence, in not taking no for an answer and I wondered how much he enjoyed their fear and distress, frankly the situation many women found themselves in was horrendous. The arrogance of Weinstein was flabbergasting to read about and the notion that he was supported and allowed to pay off victims, time and time again was and is shocking.
This was an enlightening and thought provoking read. A few things struck me which I wanted to comment on. There was refence to Weinstein not realising that consent wasn’t inherent by the very fact that the women were in his room, despite him engineering them being there by virtue of a business meeting / discussion. While with reference to him, this was unbelievable – by the fact the women said no, by the fact they were upset and by the subsequent complaints – and the need for silence. But I do wonder if there is or has been confusion and a lack of education and understanding about consent, I believe this is improving based on conversations with my son, he spoke of the Tea analogy by Thames Valley Police which simplifies the issue of consent for anyone. You can watch the Tea video here.
The lack of justice for women in sexual assault cases contributed to Weinstein’s use of silence. This enabled him as a sexual predator to continue, as a wealthy and powerful man to harass and assault women and evade the law. Legal Advisors for the women were advocating for them to accept a generous payout to avoid a lengthy and nasty court case, with a low likelihood of justice. The money enabled the women to start a new, access therapy if needed. But it was a double edged sword.
It was easy to judge some of the actresses who had not spoken out, bias in reporting often places blame with women and the Weinstein case was no exception, with a pressure on women to forgo their anonymity and publicly speak out. Clearly this was significant in the guilty verdict – the high number of complainants sharing similar accounts, but the book was very sympathetic to these women, recognising the impact of speaking out and seeing all the women as victims regardless of who they were. And a word about the authors, in reading their account I was struck by how brave they were, in pursuing this story, in supporting and enabling these women to tell their story and in withstanding attacks and confrontation from the Weinstein camp.
This was a very important read and very much of the time. With the #MeToo movement giving a voice to women this case further drove that momentum. The book is a detailed account with many people involved, an index helped me keep track of who was who, without this it would have been a struggle. A read I would recommend widely, just to further understand the power imbalance between the sexes, the inability of the legal system to adequately protect women and the willingness of society to turn a blind eye to powerful ‘men behaving badly.’
About the Authors
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are investigative reporters at the New York Times, where their reporting on women, children and the workplace has changed laws and informed our culture. In 2017 they broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged abuse of women helping to ignite a global reckoning on sexual harassment.
Kantor and Twohey share numerous honours for breaking the Harvey Weinstein story, including the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, journalism’s highest accolade. They live in Brooklyn with their families.