Harvey Weinstein’s rape conviction can easily be attributed to the #MeToo movement, but doing that is also an oversimplification of what happened. It was not a movement that convicted him; it was individuals with courage.
Weinstein's accusers may have felt buoyed by #MeToo—may have felt that they had the moral support of tens of thousands of victims that had suffered similar fates, but only six of them testified in that courtroom; and they did it alone. Moral support can go only so far.
In the end it was the implacable courage of Annabella Sciorra, Miriam Haley, Jessica Mann, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young who ended Harvey Weinstein’s bullying and abuse. That’s what it all came down to as it invariably does: one human being using his power and wealth to subjugate others.
Not only did these six women have to face down a bully, but they had to face down the "Bulldog," the nickname of defense attorney Donna Rotunno. She does not lose sex-crime cases and has assailed the #MeToo movement as a reputation-wrecker. She has frequently expounded her belief that women bear equal responsibility for protecting themselves, and declared that she has never been sexually assaulted because she would never “put myself in that position.” It is easy to criticize her beliefs, but her job was to defend he client, and she was 5/7 successful.
Finally, it was the courage of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. who agreed to prosecute the case. He had passed on a similar opportunity in 2015, claiming there was not enough evidence. Even this trial was a risk for him. Without an iota of physical evidence, he decided to go forward and let the case rest on the testimony of the victims. That he was even this successful will have great significance going forward. Without the need to produce the often unproducible physical evidence, rape victims may come forward more willingly, and the scales may begin to shift toward the victim.
It is difficult to discuss powerful men and sex crimes without dredging up the name of Donald Trump who, so far at least, has remained relatively unscathed despite numerous sexual misconduct accusations pending. Facing down a bully, a wealthy and powerful man, is difficult. Ask the Republican senators who two weeks ago, quaking with fear, voted to acquit Trump from impeachment. Further, ask the ones who actually admitted that Trump had done wrong but voted to acquit regardless. Courage?
The fear is understandable, but reprehensible in a position of leadership.
The same world that watched the Republican Senate tuck their tails between their legs and run, two weeks later saw six women confront and take down the façade of power and wealth. Maybe it's a beginning.