They say masculinity is what gives a man his strength. For some, it gives them the power to abuse their power and influence…
[CAUTION: This article contains references of sexual misconduct]
Hollywood is full of powerful men. Most are well behaved and treat others with respect. You have the kindhearted individuals like Sir Ian McKellen who recently got the COVID-19 vaccine to prove to the public that it is safe. Then, there are those who are the polar opposite, who try to further themselves and their careers by lying. One example is Jussie Smollett who faked a hate crime. He did this to get himself a pay rise on the television he worked on at the time, Empire. However, this is not the worst of the toxic masculinity we see in Tinseltown.
The worst type of masculinity we see comes in the form of Hollywood heavyweights like Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, and Andrew Kreisberg. These men flaunt their power, abuse people, and think they can get away with it. That is where their victims come out of the woodwork to bring them down. They show the world that their behaviour should never ever be tolerated.
Much of the time, allegations of abuse are swept under the rug and the perpetrator is let go. Or, they get a slap on the wrist. When situations like this come to light, it is important to know that it important to be wary. While sexual misconduct is a very real thing, some people often fake assaults to get noticed. However, when a load of people come forward like with the Harvey Weinstein case, then the logic is simple; believe the victims.
A case-by-case basis is required to ensure that actual abuse survivors are heard. Therefore, that is the reason why the #MeToo and TimesUp movements have relevant in today’s society. When victims come out with their stories they become a sea of countless individuals.
Often thought of as the man who started it all, Harvey Weinstein is the very definition of toxic masculinity in Hollywood. For years, he was a heavyweight producer who had a load of awards under his belt including Gwyneth Paltrow’s first ever Oscar win with Shakespeare in Love. He was living the dream. However, in October 2017 an article written by journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of the New York Times was published about his ‘casting couch’.
This ‘casting couch’ was a front for his inappropriate actions towards upcoming actresses who needed the advice and counsel of a heavyweight member of Hollywood. As time went on and the more stories became known, it was just female actors who were victims of Weinstein.
It was also female members of crew who had become prey for a man who knew he had their careers in his grasp. If they said something, it would be all over for them. In the weeks that followed after the story broke, over a hundred women came forward saying Weinstein had abused them.
Weinstein thought that because he holds power in Hollywood, he could buy himself out of the situation. One of his lawyers was Donna Rotunno, a female lawyer who had made her career by defending men who had been accused of sexual assault. He’s currently sitting in a gaol cell for 23 years. Does he show remorse? Absolutely not.
Of all the men caught up in the exposure of sexual predators in Hollywood, Andrew Kreisberg is one not too many people know. But, he is a prominent figure in television. He worked alongside powerhouse TV producer, Greg Berlanti. The original showrunner for The Flash and other shows is accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.
Greg Berlanti, who also founded the Arrowverse was mortified by allegations, as per Variety in 2017. Kreisberg was investigated and fired from the Warner Brothers TV Group. His name was removed from The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. However, the only thing that he is still credited for is development.
In all, Kreisberg had 19 victims, fifteen women and four men. According to the Variety article, he denies any wrongdoing. This is classic trait of men who deny sexually harassing people who work under them. In their minds, they’re in the right because they have power. Again, this is toxic masculinity at its finest.
Interestingly, the Variety article stats also that the victims came forward with almost identical allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.
As a big shot director with multiple Oscars under his belt, you would think someone like Woody Allen would respect those who got him so far in his career of over 60 years. Well, as it turns out his victim is far closer then you may think.
Dylan Farrow, who is Allen’s adoptive daughter with his ex-partner Mia Farrow alleges that in 1992 when she was just seven years old, her father molested her at her mother’s home.
Mia learned her daughter’s abuse took place over the span of eight months. In this time, she also discovered that Allen had entered a romantic relationship with another of her adoptive daughters, Soon-Yi Previn whom he would later marry.
Allen claims that when Mia found out about his relationship with her daughter, she made the allegations up out of spite. In May 2016, Woody’s son with Farrow, journalist Ronan Farrow wrote in a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter made reference to the allegations against his father by his sister when comparing the case to that of Bill Cosby.
The saga revolving around House of Cards star, Kevin Spacey just gets more wild. Star Trek Discovery star Anthony Rapp revealed he’d been sexually assaulted by the actor as a child.
Rapp’s allegations lead to a number of men revealing their assaults by Spacey.
In a wild turn of events, Spacey tried to soften the blow of the allegations from Rapp by coming out as gay. This backfired and in a big way. The timing got criticised by Wanda Sykes and George Takei.
Men like Kevin Spacey exploit their masculinity to prevent their careers from going to crap. In this case, Spacey’s career came to an end in 2017, during the ‘Weinstein effect’ era.
Bill Cosby was a family-friendly actor who starred in his own show, The Cosby Show. However, he was nothing more than another toxic male specimen. In the mid-2010s, a number of women came forward saying that the famed actor, whom people had loved for decades, had sexual assaulted them. Some of which were minors at the time.
Cosby, of course, denied all allegations. What makes this even more disturbing is that his wife, Camille believes he is innocent.
How could such a family friendly face become so twisted and convinced that what he allegedly did was right? Did he think people would believe him because of his image as a family man on and off the screen? Or was his desire to show women that he was the ultimate man? This type of toxic masculinity has selfishness and self-centredness written all over it.
Meanwhile, Cosby is serving 3-10 years in prison for aggravated indecent assault. The earliest he can be released is September 2021.
What is it with creepy old men flaunting their masculinity like its a trophy? A little closer to home in Australia, Rolf Harris had been a staple for Australian audiences. An entertainer who was beloved by all, Harris hit a massive secret.
He had sexually assaulted young girls across his career and has denied all allegations. Harris was caught up in Operation Yewtree, a British Police investigation which was looking into the abuse of children which began in October 2012. beginning with English entertainer Jimmy Savile. This operation sparked what was called at the time the ‘Yewtree effect’ which saw an increased number of reports made regarding sex crimes involving minors.
Given these allegations, Harris’ career ended, and he lost his honours. He ended up serving 5 years and 9 months in prison while being released on licence during 2017.
Toxic masculinity begins when one gains power he should not have. They decide to abuse it. Here’s the thing. These men are not special. Yes, they get influence but anyone who supports them is just as bad as they are.
Furthermore, many victims of these men have either been brushed off as liars or ignored. If it weren’t for people like Rose McGowan and Alyssa Milano, these stories would still be buried. It is up to the world to take note of the type of people that occupy the spaces we live in.
What these men did is inexcusable. They had a duty of care and they broke it and for what? To pleasure their sick fantasies? To make their underlings obey them? Who really knows what goes through their minds.
In conclusion, for those men who went to prison for their crimes, we hope they took a hard look at themselves. These men need to realise they are not gods amongst mortals.