Amanda Marcotte in Salon:
I don't buy Harvey Weinstein's apology. I realize this isn't really a novel opinion, as social media is burning up with people mocking the statement he released to the New York Times after Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published an exposé chronicling decades of allegations of sexual harassment against the renowned studio executive. Still, it's an opinion worth explicating because the excuses that Weinstein trots out in his statement are the kinds of excuses that sexual harassers and abusers all too often get away with, even in the 21st century. Weinstein is trying to gaslight us all. An insincere apology is no apology at all, and people should not accept it. "I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then," Weinstein wrote. "I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone." First, if it's not an excuse, then why offer it up as one? Second, the claim that he didn't know any better is particularly hard to believe in light of the eight legal settlements — that we know about — uncovered by the Times. After you have repeatedly paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to women who say you have behaved inappropriately, that might have been a clue that something was wrong. But mostly, the whole "I didn't know better" claim, common to sexual harassers, needs to be understood as the nonsense that it is. Sexual harassers know better. They know it's wrong. They know their behavior upsets women.
That's why they do it.
A lot of sexual harassers want to pass off their behavior as merely awkward or unwelcome advances, knowing that draws sympathy. Who among us hasn't flirted with someone who didn't flirt back? Who hasn't worried about asking someone out for fear of rejection? That's how the harassers want you to imagine them: hapless Romeos, guilty not of being cruel but of having no game. Well, don't believe it. As most women who've been targeted by creeps — which is most women, by the way — can tell you, what is usually obvious is how much of the creep's pleasure depends on knowing he's making you uncomfortable. The stories relayed by women to the Times reporters suggest that's the case here. Many of the women describe Weinstein making excuses to get them alone in a hotel room. Making sure there are no witnesses to the behavior doesn't suggest a well-meaning guy who doesn't know better, but someone who knows exactly what he's doing and how he plans to get away with it.