Part seventeen of a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka
In rape culture, the more power a man has, the more sexual assault he can get away with. Powerful men live in a cloud of entitlement. Rich men, such as Harvey Weinstein, can sexually assault numerous woman for years, get a slap on the wrist and a fine, and walk away. But losing loose change is nothing compared to the pain suffered by the victims.
Hollywood often weds power to a sense of entitlement. Gatekeepers are given, “Get Out of Jail Free Cards.” For example, Harvey Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with different women. One person he abused said, “I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world-famous man, and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.” Vulnerable women have hoped to make it big in Hollywood. And Weinstein has used his power to get them in bed. This is rape culture.
Over the course of Weinstein’s career, dozens of his former and current employees knew about his inappropriate behaviors, yet only a few ever confronted him. They probably feared losing their jobs.
For years, Weinstein and many other men have used their power and wealth to bully women into silence. In another situation, Fox News broadcaster Bill O’Reilly paid $32 million to settle a harassment case; he was then rehired by Fox with an increased salary. The only way to see a change in rape culture is to bring consequences for the powerful, entitled men. Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook said, “If you know something is happening and fail to take action—especially if you are in power—you are responsible, too.” Only when people in power use their power to speak out will change happen.
Entitlement takes place in churches, too. Paige Patterson, the former President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was called out for sexist comments in sermons and for his assertions that women should stay in abusive situations. Patterson counseled one woman who had been abused by her husband to pray for him at night; he told the wife to “get ready” because her husband “may get a little more violent.” Patterson also joked about women, saying, “I think everybody should own at least one.” After many days of his claiming he had done nothing wrong while some fought for him to be removed from his position, he apologized and was removed.
Another big name in the evangelical subculture is Bill Hybels. He had to resign after being charged with multiple counts of improper conduct and abuse of power that he still denies.
There is even entitlement in the type of person who can speak out and report assault. What about the women who are barely making their bills, living paycheck to paycheck—how can we create a world in which they can speak out without the risk of losing their jobs?