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Abuse of Power


Harvey weinstein

That is the accusation against Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, that he used his position of power to get what he wanted: sexual favours from any woman he fancied whether they were agreeable or not. The accusations are many pronged and doubly dammed. Not only is he accused of serious sexual misconduct, nay, sexual crimes but it is now out that he used his position to exploit women, mostly aspiring stars and had many in his companies to connive with him to cover up his crimes against women. He used his ability to hire, fire or build careers or destroy them and his money and clout to cover up when exposition was imminent. But he is caught well and truly, losing his position in the corporate world, with women literally queuing up to tell degrading tales about him.

The despicable man

The New Yorker of October 23 carried a very long article on Weinstein by Ronnan Farrow who tailed him for long and met and listened to hundreds of people including those young women who were forced to succumb to him and those in his various offices across America who abetted him, some termed ‘honey pots’. Farrow writes: "Since the establishment of the first studios, a century ago, there have been few movie executives as dominant or as domineering as Harvey Weinstein. He co-founded the production and distribution companies Miramax and the Weinstein Company helping to reinvent the model for independent films." Some seen and remembered are Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech - the last about George VI, the present queen’s father, overcoming his terrible stammer helped immensely by a speech coach and his wife. Weinstein’s movies have been nominated more than 300 times for Oscars.

"For more than twenty years, Weinstein, who is now 64, had been trailed by rumours of sexual harassment and assault." Various media outlets attempted pinning the man down, but no one was willing to come forward and accuse him publicly, through fear of repercussion. "If Harvey were to discover my identity, I’m worried he could ruin my life." One major tactic of the man was to interview aspiring actresses in a hotel, when he would invite the women for ten minutes to his room. He boasted that he’d never had to do anything like Bill Cosby, meaning get the victim drunk or drugged. On October 5, the New York Times carried an article of accusation against him which resulted in the resignation of four members of the all-male Weinstein Company Board. The big man was fired. Some of the accusations were more than two decades old. A woman employee told Farrow that she heard and recorded on her phone Weinstein say to himself after a huge spat in office, "There are things I’ve done that nobody knows." So more dirt may emerge.

Other American Offenders

Trump is the worst of the men of this type who are overfull of ego, narcissism, power-gone to their heads and believers that money is everything and as they possess much, they can get away with anything. It’s too disgusting to repeat what he has said but one fact nails the coffin. His first wife Ivanka divorced him on the grounds of marital rape and scalping her in rage – he snatched handfuls of her hair, she testified. And for goodness sake, where is he now? - visiting countries with decent, dignified leaders of the caliber of Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping. He sanctimoniously pronounced (must have tweeted, his frequent means of communication) on Women’s Day, March 8, 2017: "I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy." Even he would have felt his tongue was in his despicable cheek. Like Weinstein was in the habit of doing, Trump would disparage women who stood up to him or whom he disliked with personal comments on their appearance and size and even more personal matters. Of the many ugly, low down barbs against Hillary Clinton one was: "If she could not satisfy her husband how can she satisfy the nation." One-track nasty mind and he is now considered the most powerful man on earth. While he jibed at Kim Jong Un as ‘that crazy rocket man’ the latter called him a ‘deranged dotard’, puzzling many as to the meaning of the term. Webster’s dictionary defines dotard as ‘high as a kite’, meaning one of senile decay!

But what is he, basically, and Weinstein and even Cosby? We had a three letter word long ago that labeled a man like this – cad. Has the word gone out of usage?


This naturally brings us to our country. I am sure there are Weinsteins and Trumps lording it with women but of course with much much less power and money. Men across the board are guilty of harassing women, from street hawkers to taxi drivers to others. Here more even than in America, female mouths are sealed and suffering goes on in silence, because in most cases the harassed girls’ daily bread and pol sambol are threatened. In many cases what starts off as sexual harassment turns consensual nowadays. Oldies keep repeating like a mantra, "girls now are not like they were then", meaning the older, highly strait-laced woman who thus pontificates comparing her Victorian era to modern times of changed social norms. Girls and women being harassed may be due to very high job competition. But degradation of morals is often accepted judging by the oft said aphorism ‘What to do, aney;’ or worse ‘karume.’

The so called tree climbers who got into Parliament did find power going to their stupid heads. In the 1960s I think it was when a close relative of mine met a ne’er-do-well of his neighbourhood at a café in Colombo. They got talking and the relative enquired what the other was doing. "MP", he replied, "Member of Parliament". The relative used an expletive to express his disbelief. The man had to show his MP’s ID or pass or whatever. Later, a friend of mine went to a deputy in a certain ministry wanting a transfer. The deputy had asked her to meet him at Sravasti, the hostel for MPs. Unsuspectingly she went there to be told to go to his ground floor room. He was willing to help her and promised an immediate transfer and adroitly started closing the room door with his foot. Sensing his intention, she fled but not before she let him have it verbally. In relating the incident to us, it turned out he was the MP who had to prove his status!! Worse must be happening all the time now.

One remembers John Kotelawela since it was he who said that tree climbers were in Parliament post 1956. He has our complete respect, even affection for being so large in life. He had a Purple Brigade of socialites and the doors of Kandawela were open to politicians, foreign VIPs and beautiful women. He never hid his roving eye and was honest. Also it was he who was chased by women, as happens with men in power. He enjoyed everything in life, consensual peccadilloes included which were never cloak and dagger affairs. So how not to admire the man who brashly stood up to Jawaharlal Nehru and told him where to get off at the Bandung inaugural conference prefacing his snub with "I say Nehru…"!

We in the Sinhalese language as is usual, have a very apt, pregnant with connotation noun for such as Harvey Weinstein – ‘kukula’ emphasized with ‘harima’ or ‘maara’! Actually too mild for Weinstein, who has been proved to be a cruel and subhuman exploiter of women.

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