When you read the stories, the voltage of the actresses’ names illuminates the screen. Gwyneth Paltrow. Angelina Jolie. Mira Sorvino. All share more in common than having won Academy Awards: They have all recently spoken about being sexually accosted by Hollywood career-maker Harvey Weinstein.

Hopefully the stories being told by these women and many others are an important start towards progress. But as eye-catching as these women’s names are, the broader issue is about men — men who both commit and enable the ecosystems of horror inhabited by creatures like Weinstein.

They are the menacing, sad men lounging around hotel rooms in bathrobes, waiting for obeisant staff to push young actresses through their doors as a zoo employee tosses meat into a lion’s cage. They collect unearned conquests as currency; perhaps their whole motivation towards wealth would be to one day wield enough power to churn through scared young actresses afraid of losing their big break.

As youths, maybe they took inspiration in fictional film producer Jack Woltz from The Godfather movie, who brags about his conquests with innocent young women all over the world. But in the far less cinematic real world, they use their influence to abuse women, casting them off with broken dreams and emotional scars, knowing there are always more just pulling into town.

Then there are the men who enable such behavior, knowing what’s happening and still saying nothing. They could be male employees of Weinstein’s company afraid to blow the whistle for fear of losing their jobs, or notable actors who knew of Weinstein’s actions but remained silent.

Dozens of women presumably could have helped by exposing Weinstein decades ago; but as long as the juicy roles and giant checks kept coming, many men likely felt it was necessary to protect Hollywood’s most notorious predator. Of course, it is a victim’s decision to tell her (or his) own story; but a conspiracy of silence only enables monsters to keep offending. Naturally, a flood of male actors will now come forward and condemn Weinstein; but they were all absent when they were needed the most.

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Source: USA Today