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  • Bernadette Bowen

Response to Kantor & Twohey (2019) "She Said"

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

The following is a discussion board post I made for a "Raging Women: Then and Now" course in response to this question:


"How do predators’ methods of covering up their crimes (such as Weinstein’s partnership with the organization Black Cube) create a surveillance state/simulated life experience for their victims?"

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Before I answer this directly, I'd like to briefly describe my take on the book because as someone who's done a substantial amount of research around #MeToo, I have an admittedly biased perspective on this book, in a not fond way. If you don't want to read the rant, feel free to scroll past it and see the reflection on this question.

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I don't know about you all, but while I was listening to the audio version of She Said, I couldn't help but feel skeptical of these reporters. Not to take away from the years of work they did. But they really painted journalists in a way that made them seem like champions when they're largely not. Investigative journalism is a dying field because of transitional and global media conglomerates. This book felt to me like listening to an aggrandized version of the "Silence Breakers" magazine cover that omitted Tarana Burke the first time. It really rubbed me the wrong way. I appreciated their decision to read the book themselves personally, as a means of agency, but many times it felt a bit preachy like white feminists taking the mic and holding onto it with a death grip keeping it away from anyone else. Last but not least, although they mention a few not celebrity women, they seem to be painting a rose colored glasses picture of this whole situation. Much like how the #TimesUp organization is not all it's cracked up to be either. It came to light recently that they're a bunch of neoliberal lackies who deliberately shielded Joe Biden's accuser because they didn't want to mess up the election cycle. K, I'm done ranting, and now I'll answer the question.


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I have to say, this was a very media ecological question of you two to ask. Maybe (probably) I just see media ecology everywhere now, but this read very much to me like,


"How are rich and powerful men creating their own environments of silence?

OR

"How does money work as it's own field of influence effecting entire socio-political ecosystems?"

And, of course, I love that kind of question. It's the kind of question that unveils the interconnectedness of us all no matter how much we intimately collude with the rich and famous. 


With that said, I think predators or non predators who have an exorbitant amount of income believe and know that they are above the law. Think of a parking ticket for instance. Parking tickets don't represent, "you can't park here" they say, "you can park here for this much money". Arguably, all violations work in the same way. Harvey Weinstein's cases fall within that category. We can gripe ourselves to death about that, and/or pretend to fain surprise, but we all already know this. We live in late-stage neoliberal capitalism, and have all our lives. People are dying every day now because the country refuses to prioritize people over profit. It doesn't get much more blatant than that. If you ask me, sexual violence is just another ugly capitalist off-shoot of rich powerful men having temper tantrums if they aren't getting what they want any and all times. Take this Trump quote for example:


When I read this, I can't help but think: "What an actual giant baby who must have never not gotten his way his entire life." That's how I see predators of all kinds as well. It's a certain level of entitlement that is completely unfathomable. Call it affluenza, call it what you will. But whatever you call it, his behavior is completely unacceptable. And so was Weinstein, alongside his entire circle that knew and did nothing to stop him for twenty years. It's all disgustingly normalized.


To use the more recent vocabulary of establishments everywhere, this behavior by predators isn't exactly "unprecedented" because it's all clearly been so normal forever, despite sexual violence occurring at epidemic levels everywhere,  it doesn't even qualify anymore. People read and write to their hands fall off and their bodies fall apart about sexual violence, but the end all be all of the argument appears to always be "no one cares enough to change the cultures which raise these boys into violence men". No one cares to stop praising the objectification, abuse, and outright slaughter of victims/survivors everywhere. Whether that's seen in the form of the  thousands of male serial killer documentaries, the cookie cutter true crime podcasts, the paraphernalia never ends. We as a culture apparently love to see women get hurt so much, we can't bare to part with it. We need to be intimate with it almost constantly, consuming it with our eyes and ears so much it falls out of our mouths without us even thinking anything of it.


These discourses throughout every form of media are the surveillance state you speak of. They are the "simulated life experiences" of us all. And the saddest part is, we have the power to change it all, we just haven't.*

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