The Harvey Weinstein Syndrome—Because They Can

A twenty-something woman asked me recently, “Why do they treat us like this? Why do they get away with it?”

“Because they can,” I answered.

I am not talking about all men. But to be perfectly honest, I am talking about most of you.

To one extent or another, most men have extensive track records of treating women like second-class citizens, or worse, like property.

Their wives defend them. If they are young, their families protect them. Universities and corporations make excuses, minimize, obfuscate, penalize the victims, play innocent, lie. For every single company or school that takes action (whether because they read the writing on the wall, or are otherwise facing worsening repercussions), hundreds of others hide evidence and pretend nothing happened.

It remains to be seen whether the latest falderal is going to make any lasting change. I predict there will be a few sacrificial lambs, and then things will return to the status quo.

How would I know? Here’s the reasoning behind my educated guess:

Long years of watching people with really short attention spans, the majority just wanting to get by and not make waves, our inherent laziness, people with money who make issues disappear . . . . .

Men using covert forms of violence (social, political, illegal, immoral) to move up the corporate ladder. Men who control people in a business environment by threatening their careers and job security. Men who create hostile work environments where almost every single person is afraid of losing their jobs and careers.

Men who create pecking orders with male friends and acquaintances. Who systematically exclude women in almost every meaningful interaction that isn’t sexual.

Men who intimidate and terrorize family members.

And a growing number of men who pick up guns and use them.

Because they can.

The Scream

Let’s start with the scream: Long, piercing, ragged. The way abandonment and death raps their talons around an animal’s throat until the only thing that can escape is that intolerable sound.

If you’ve lived in a wild part of the country, you might have heard that cry. Something large with teeth and claws rips the body from it’s victim’s soul. Your heart skips. You look around, wide-eyed. Is it close? Where will it go next? Not here, please!

I don’t know what kind of person grows immune to that sound. Maybe a predator doesn’t hear it. Or likes it.

I heard it this week, surrounded by blocks of neighborhood houses. I thought nothing wild was left here, except an occasional snake. Then I thought of the more common, two-legged variety that roams streets in the middle of the night. I was waiting for a friend who ran back inside for less than a minute.

The tiny dog with a borrowed name waited with me. She had survived Hurricane Harvey. No one knows who or where her family is, how many other dogs or cats may have populated her world. The only thing she has now is this kind stranger. Perhaps she had always been a nervous animal. But she must have struggled, and run for hours, and cowered, while incomprehensible wind and rain taught her how close Death can come.

So she screamed standing next to me, weeks after the storm, with the sun shining bright and the weather, warm and dry. She screamed as she must have screamed the night Harvey destroyed her world. She screamed like a person being torn apart.

Her savior ran out the door and scooped up the traumatized dog, speaking soft blessings into her ears.

I’ve heard that sound three times in my life: Once when something caught a deer in deep woods. Again when a cougar found its prey. And last, when a tiny dog thought she’d lost her entire world a second time.

Halloween is not just one day a year. And it’s not just kids in Spider-man costumes.

Sometimes, Halloween is real.


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