There’s wide agreement that super creep and alleged rapist Harvey Weinstein’s harassment and abuse of women was an open secret. It’s a cliché, but it does appear that everyone and their mother knew about it.
His victims certainly knew—Gwyneth Paltrow, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Angelina Jolie, Heather Graham, just to name a few. Other powerful A-list entertainers have come forward to admit that they had heard the rumors. Jane Fonda—considered a member of Hollywood royalty—recently acknowledged she knew for years and now feels guilty that she didn’t try to expose him.
Consider that list of women—they are unarguably some of the most powerful female entertainers in the industry, with multi-million-dollar paychecks, lawyers, advisors, and agents just a phone call away. And yet, even they felt powerless to reveal what Weinstein had done, and was still doing, up until a few weeks ago.
It wasn’t just Hollywood that knew of Weinstein’s disgusting and likely criminal behavior. Even the average television viewer was given a hint when comedian Seth McFarlane made a very unsubtle joke about Weinstein at the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony. When McFarlane made the joke, that wasn’t a laugh track piped in to the auditorium to fool home viewers into thinking the audience enjoyed the joke. No, that was genuine laughter from the best of Hollywood, all of whom knew that a powerful guy was regularly making women feel small and victimized.
All of this has me thinking about a particular group of women in Hollywood—not the many victims, but the women who are known to push their daughters to enter the entertainment industry. What does it say about Hollywood moms that they would invite their daughters into the lion’s den?
Sadly, the list of such women is long. Kris Jenner first comes to mind. Known as the “Mom-ager” of the infamous Kardashian clan, she has encouraged all of her children to enter the industry and is rumored to have negotiated the very thing that put her most famous offspring—Kim—in the limelight, her daughter’s DIY porn video and glossy spread in Playboy.
Of course, no one is surprised by the rather vulgar actions taken by the ambitious and money-hungry Kardashian matriarch. But it does make one wonder about the other, seemingly more reasonable Hollywood moms who, unlike Kris, appear to care about their children’s wellbeing.
For instance, celebrity mom Cindy Crawford has cheered and encouraged her teenage daughter’s modeling career—an industry that reeks of the same sort of Weinsteinian debauchery that’s obviously common in Hollywood. Actors Johnny Depp and actress Vanessa Paradis have applauded their young daughter’s burgeoning modeling and acting career. Melanie Griffith seems thrilled with her daughter Dakota’s stardom—including her soft porn debut in Fifty Shades of Grey. Hollywood moms like Goldie Hawn, Blythe Danner, Meryl Streep, Kate Capshaw and Peggy Lipton all seem very supportive of their daughters’ choices to work in an industry where even the most powerful women are the subject of harassment and bullying. Even Hollywood dads—like Ron Howard, John Voigt, and Kelsey Grammer—seem pleased that their daughters have joined the firm.
And what of that other familial bond between women—the sisterhood? Considering the hysterics we’ve seen from female entertainers since the election, where was feminism when Weinstein was flagrantly harming young actresses and models? For instance, Ashley Judd stayed mute about Weinstein’s harassment for years, even as she was screaming about President Trump’s tame-by-comparison pussy grabbing remarks. Self-proclaimed feminist Madonna threatened to blow up the White House, yet stayed quiet about Hollywood’s systemic abuse of women. Chelsea Handler—who regularly offers blistering monologues about powerful people—stayed away from the Weinstein rumors. Instead, she used her celebrity voice to hysterically warn women that a Trump presidency would mean “the end of our civilization.”
There is something positive that has come out of this scandal. It’s finally broken Hollywood’s image as a morally superior guide for American culture. But it’s also exposed something truly disturbing: that the seductive nature of celebrity status trumps everything, even a mother’s love for her child and a woman’s duty help her fellow women.