Weinstein in court on sex crime charges

Harvey Weinstein revelations and accusations triggered the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment, especially involving people in positions of power. Many women have claimed improper behaviour over decades, and Weinstein was the subject of many.

For the first time, Weinstein has been charged and has appeared in court in New York. This may be the tip of a legal iceberg for him.

Reuters: Movie mogul Weinstein handcuffed in court to face sex crime charges

Film mogul Harvey Weinstein appeared in handcuffs in a New York court on Friday to face charges of rape and other sex crimes against two of the scores of women who have accused him of misconduct, ending his reign as a Hollywood kingpin.

Weinstein, the 66-year-old co-founder of the Miramax film studio and the Weinstein Co, intends to plead not guilty to the two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act, his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told reporters outside the Manhattan courthouse.

Prosecutors did not identify the two women, but said the crimes took place in 2004 and 2013. If convicted on the most serious charges, Weinstein could face between five and 25 years in prison.

Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women, with some of the cases dating back decades, has denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone.

The accusations, first reported last year by the New York Times and the New Yorker, gave rise to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, government and entertainment of misconduct.

Weinstein earlier turned himself in at a lower Manhattan police station around 7:25 a.m. EDT (1125 GMT). He carried thick books under his right arm, including what appeared to be biographies of Broadway musical legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and Elia Kazan, the director of such classic Hollywood films as “On the Waterfront.”

About 90 minutes later, Weinstein was led by officers into court in handcuffs, grimacing with his head bowed, his books nowhere in sight, to await arraignment.

“This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said at Weinstein’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Judge Kevin McGrath ordered Weinstein released on $1 million cash bail. The defendant surrendered his U.S. passport and agreed to wear a monitoring device that tracks his location, confining him to the states of New York and Connecticut.

An irony on the legal privileges of the wealthy:

Stream of revelations of abuse of power and women

The floodgates may not have opened fully on revelations of sexual harassment and misconduct of prominent men in the US, but a trickle seems to have become a stream.

On the current RealClear Politics front page there are numerous stories about men abusing power and abusing women.

The trickle started with Harvey Weinstein: After Weinstein, a Cultural Revolution (National Review):

It’s been nearly two months, and a geologic age, since the New York Times ran its initial report on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation.

It’s difficult to think of any piece of journalism that has ever wrought such an instant change in American life.

First, more allegations against Weinstein flooded in, and then against other Hollywood, media, and political figures, many of them rapidly defenestrated upon credible allegations of sexual misconduct.

A heightened awareness around sexual harassment is roiling multiple industries in what is a low-grade cultural revolution.

But the stage was set last year: Congress Should Investigate Trump’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct (RCP):

Powerful men with long histories of alleged sexual harassment or assault are finally being held accountable — except one. That would be President Trump.

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her,” Trump said on the “Access Hollywood” tape, referring to a woman he had just spotted. “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the [vagina]. You can do anything.”

Thirteen women have gone on the record to say that is how Trump operated, according to a tally by The Washington Post. Eight of them — who say that Trump kissed them, groped them or both, without invitation or permission — have corroboration, meaning they told other people about the incidents before going public. Similar stories told by the other five accusers are not corroborated.

Trump won election despite the allegations, but his victory did not erase his history. Now, virtually overnight, the paradigm for thinking about and dealing with sexual harassment has changed. A kind of Judgment Day has arrived for men who thought they had gotten away with their misdeeds.

And there’s ample history: Al Gore’s dark past is an inconvenient truth (The OCR):

It seems like every time you open the morning paper, more powerful men are being accused of groping, raping and generally treating their female colleagues in inappropriate and degrading ways.

You don’t have to look any farther than the pages of the New York Times or the airwaves of MSNBC to hear liberal voices openly opining that they blew it in the 1990s by not calling on former President Bill Clinton to step down after he admitted to an ongoing sexual relationship with a much younger intern.

However, one prominent name has managed to stay off of our radar, and I don’t know why. I am, of course, speaking of former Vice President Al Gore.

Back in October of 2006, a Portland, Ore. masseuse accused the former vice president of “unwanted sexual contact” while performing a massage on him in a hotel room.

Students: There Are No Safe Spaces (NewRepublic):

If we have learned anything from the ongoing, seemingly endless tide of sexual harassment allegations against famous, powerful men, it is that there is no space that is truly safe.

It is not a coincidence that this flood has come now, not just with Donald “grab ‘em by the pussy” Trump in the White House, but after years of public denunciations of the very idea of safe spaces. Liberal and conservative commentators alike have written reams of nearly identical columns lamenting the desire, on the part of today’s young people, for a place they might be safe from sexism, racism, and harassment.

A journalist: Charlie Rose, before and after the fall (News Observer):

North Carolina was proud of Charlie Rose. A native, a graduate of Duke University and the Duke law school, and someone who for a substantial two decades conducted perhaps the most thoughtful interview show on television through his own company.

Now, of course, Rose’s career has ended in flames after sexual harassment allegations from several women. It’s hard to imagine the 75-year-old New York-based media and social star will be able to restore his public image.

A Senator:  Al Franken vows to regain Minnesota’s trust after harassment allegations (Star Tribune):

Another politician: Capitol Police investigating whether nude photo of House Republican was a crime (The Hill):

The Capitol Police are investigating whether the unauthorized release of a nude photo of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) online was a crime.

A nude photo of Barton appeared on social media anonymously earlier in the week. Barton on Wednesday acknowledged that the photo was of him but said he did not release the photo and the person who did not only violated his privacy but may have committed “a potential crime against me.”

Barton emphasized that the women he was involved with in the past, one of whom may have shared the photo, were above the age of consent and willing participants.

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” Barton said in a statement.

That may be just embarrassing rather than criminal.

And a candidate:  U.S. Senate candidate Moore’s spokesman resigns as allegations roil campaign (Reuters):

The communications director for U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore has resigned amid the Alabama Republican’s efforts to combat allegations of sexual misconduct that have roiled his campaign.
News of the departure of John Rogers came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump defended Moore from accusations by multiple women that Moore pursued them as teenagers when he was in his 30s, including one who has said he initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14.

Moore has denied any wrongdoing and has accused the women of conspiring with Democrats, media outlets and establishment Republicans in an effort to tarnish his reputation. Reuters has not independently confirmed any of the accusations.

Trump told reporters on Tuesday, however, that he might yet campaign for Moore, who he said “totally denies” the misconduct allegations, and that Democratic nominee Doug Jones was a liberal who should not be elected.

The president’s stance stood in contrast to the reactions from most Republicans in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who have called on Moore to step aside.

Blaming the media and their opponents may be wearing a bit thin, especially when allegations of abuses are spread across the spectrum.

When the rot is defended from the top, and the top may be rotten as well, there is some way to go but the stream may become a floodgate that can’t be held back, even by Trump.

Back to Rich Lowry at National Review:

Now, it is the predators — no matter how entrenched and successful — who are in a precarious position. They can fall from grace within hours of credible accounts of wrongdoing. It doesn’t matter how abjectly they apologize or promise to get therapy and engage in self-reflection. They are powerless before their accusers.

This dynamic can go too far. It is important that accusations always are evaluated for credibility, and the accused get their hearing.

But the model, a disgraceful abuse of power too long tolerated, is ending. Good riddance.

The abuse of power bubble may at last be bursting.

While there are a growing number of accusations those in the firing line are only a small minority of politicians, journalists and movie moguls. The majority, possibly the vast majority, are innocent of abusing their power or abusing women.

But there must be a few others who are waiting, wondering if they will become the next headline.

Trump pot mocks Franken kettle

President Donald Trump has mocked Senator Al Franken after revelations of sexual harassment.

Trump wading into this has raised a few eyebrows given revelations and accusations involving him and harassment. And Franken has at least admitted bad behaviour, Trump attacked rather than acknowledged wrongdoing.

the exposure of Trump’s misconduct during last year’s presidential election campaign was a significant step towards the flood of revelations and accusations over the last month, started with the crash and burning of Harvey Weinstein.

NY Times: In Mocking Franken Over Claims of Sexual Misconduct, Trump Joins a Debate He Started

Last fall, Donald J. Trump inadvertently touched off a national conversation about sexual harassment when a recording of him boasting about groping women was made public at the same time a succession of women came forward to assert that groping was something he did more than talk about.

A year later, after a wave of harassment claims against powerful men in entertainment, politics, the arts and the news media, the discussion has come full circle with President Trump criticizing the latest politician exposed for sexual misconduct even as he continues to deny any of the accusations against him.

In this case, Mr. Trump focused his Twitter-fueled mockery on a Democratic senator while largely avoiding a similar condemnation of a Republican Senate candidate facing far more allegations. The turn in the political dialogue threatened to transform a moment of cleansing debate about sexual harassment into another weapon in the war between the political parties, led by the president himself.

Indeed, Republicans on Friday were more than happy to talk about Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who apologized this week after a radio newscaster said he forcibly kissed her and posed for a photograph a decade ago appearing to fondle her breasts while she was sleeping.

Democrats, for their part, sought to keep the focus on Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate in Alabama who has been accused of unwanted sexual conduct by multiple women going back even further, including one who was 14 at the time.

It has embarrassed both Democrats and Republicans, with both being guilty of partisan attacks while turning a blind eye to their own transgressors.

But the notion that Mr. Trump himself would weigh in given his own history of crude talk about women and the multiple allegations against him surprised many in Washington who thought he could not surprise them anymore. A typical politician with Mr. Trump’s history would stay far away from discussing someone else’s behavior lest it dredge his own back into the spotlight.

But as Mr. Trump has shown repeatedly during his 10-month presidency, he is rarely deterred by conventional political wisdom even as he leaves it to his staff to fend off the cries of hypocrisy.

White House aides labored on Friday to distinguish Mr. Trump’s case from those of others, arguing that the president’s conduct was not at issue because he won the election last year after voters had a chance to evaluate both the claims against him and his denials.

That’s typical of the excuse making for their own, something that has more than tacitly approved of and enabled ongoing sexual harassment going back at least fifty five years to the abuses of President Kennedy.

“This was covered pretty extensively during the campaign,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. “We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.”

She added that Mr. Trump still maintained that the more than a dozen women who have said that he kissed or groped them against their will were all lying. And she acknowledged no double standard in the president chastising others for sexual misconduct.

“Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn’t,” she said. “I think that’s a very clear distinction.”

Yes, it is a clear distinction. Franken has admitted what he did was wrong, happening in an area that allowed it.

Of course Hillary Clinton has waded in to this.

But Democrats saw the distinction differently. Hillary Clinton said Mr. Franken’s apology and call for an ethics committee investigation “is the kind of accountability I’m talking about — I don’t hear that from Roy Moore or Donald Trump.”

Speaking with Rita Cosby on WABC Radio, Mrs. Clinton added, “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who have done neither.”

There’s a high degree of irony there given that tacl of apology and accountability of her husband, Bill.

For her own part, the sexual harassment conversation has been uncomfortable for Mrs. Clinton as well. Conservatives defending Mr. Moore point to various allegations made against Bill Clinton when he was president, including sexual assault, and even some liberals said they should rethink their defense of the 42nd president.

On Franken versus Ttrump she has a valid point.

But the condemning of opponents alongside defending of their own politicians by both Democrats and Republicans is evidence of a morally corrupt political system in the United States.

Trump’s denials, now alongside his mocking of Franken, looks distinctly like a socially corrupt president. The worst rot, whether it be Kennedy, Clinton (Bill) or Trump, is clearly at the top.

Accusations and trials in public by media are far from ideal, and will be manifestly unfair to some.

But this rot has been allowed to continue for a long time, and actions outside the old way of doing things (blind eyes and under-carpet sweeping) needed something drastic and unconventional to break the cycle of harassment and abuse.

And apart from the nonsense of “the president’s conduct was not at issue because he won the election last year after voters had a chance to evaluate both the claims against him and his denials”:

RCP average Trump approval:

  • Disapprove 56.9%
  • Approve 38.4%

The US voters did choose a president with a highly suspect past, but that was over an opponent with her own suspect past plus the known poor sexual behaviour of her husband. That’s not a strong position from which one can claim the moral high ground.

There is evidence at least of Trump having an appalling attitude to women in the past. The pot should start by addressing that adequately.

Senator next target, sexual harassment reckoning floodgates

The Harvey Weinstein revelations and accusations seem to have opened the floodgates of accusations of sexual harassment in the US. Kevin Spacey has also been publicly disgraced, Republican candidate for the Senate Roy Moore is under fire and now  a Democratic senator, Al Franken, the latest to be accused publicly.

Sexual impropriety by politicians is nothing new in the US, with prominent examples John Kennedy and Bill Clinton, and the current president Donald Trump, but it now seems that accusations are being taken seriously and are getting traction.

The GOP has just been rocked by a string of accusations against a Senate candidate – Trump has distanced himself as more accusers emerge – Two more women describe unwanted overtures by Roy Moore at Alabama mall:

Gena Richardson says she was a high school senior working in the men’s department of Sears at the Gadsden Mall when a man approached her and introduced himself as Roy Moore.

His overtures caused one store manager to tell new hires to “watch out for this guy,” another young woman to complain to her supervisor and Richardson to eventually hide from him when he came in Sears, the women say.

Richardson says Moore — now a candidate for U.S. Senate — asked her where she went to school, and then for her phone number, which she says she declined to give, telling him that her father, a Southern Baptist preacher, would never approve.

Richardson says Moore asked her out again on the call. A few days later, after he asked her out at Sears, she relented and agreed, feeling both nervous and flattered. They met that night at a movie theater in the mall after she got off work, a date that ended with Moore driving her to her car in a dark parking lot behind Sears and giving her what she called an unwanted, “forceful” kiss that left her scared.

Moore’s campaign did not directly address the new allegations. In a statement, a campaign spokesman cast the growing number of allegations against Moore as politically motivated.

There is a possibility some accusations may involve political motivations but the number of people being exposed suggest the tip of a much bigger iceberg, an insidious iceberg.

And a sitting Senator has also just been accused: Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It:

On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

I felt disgusted and violated.

Unwanted advances are not uncommon at all levels of society, but it seems like the male political and media elite in the US are finally being exposed.

Prior to now acceptance and tacit approval of the actions of Kennedy, Clinton and Trump have been swept under political carpets, with power being seen as more important for both Democrats and Republicans than confronting and dealing properly with sexual harassment.

Jeff Greenfield writes: How Roy Moore’s Misdeeds Are Forcing an Awakening on the Left

Years of excusing Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct suddenly seems morally indefensible.

Watching the political contortions of Republicans to defend a candidate accused of sexually molesting teenage girls, Democrats and liberal pundits are reckoning publicly with their own history of fervid rationalizations on behalf of a recent president. But this should be just the beginning of a painful re-examination.

This new consciousness was glimpsed first in a tweet from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, a commentator of a stoutly progressive persuasion. “As gross and cynical and hypocritical as the right’s ‘what about Bill Clinton’ stuff is,” he wrote, “it’s also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.”

It was glimpsed in passing in a New York Times editorial, Ground Zero of conventional liberalism. “Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape—all of which he has denied,” it said.

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, where coastal elitism is a badge of honor, acknowledged the elephant in the room this way: “That so many women have summoned the courage to make public their allegations against Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, and Bill O’Reilly—or that many have come to reconsider some of the claims made against Bill Clinton—represents a cultural passage.”

These allegations have long been a part of the right-wing media’s talking points. Sean Hannity invoked them on an almost daily basis during the 2016 campaign, and they were used by Donald Trump as a protective shield, to ward off the charges of serial sexual harassment and the boastful confessions of same on the “Access Hollywood” tape. During the 2016 campaign, Trump brought these three women to a presidential debate, as living, breathing arguments for “whataboutism.”

But from the political center leftward, those allegations never reached critical mass. Maybe it was the very way the Right not only seized on the stories, but made them part of a much broader, far less credible series of accusations. The late Rev. Jerry Falwell spent years peddling “the Clinton Chronicles,” a series of videos that charged the Clintons with complicity in any number of murders. A congressional committee chair used a rifle and a watermelon to try to show that White House aide Vince Foster had been murdered, rather than taking his own life; As late as last year, the fever swamps were rife with stories of a pedophilic sex trafficking ring operating out of the basement of a popular Washington pizza parlor. Any one of these flights of lunacy acted as the 13th stroke of the clock, casting doubt not only on itself, but on every other allegation.

So what changed? Three people: Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump and Roy Moore.

At the height of the Lewinsky impeachment melodrama, Clinton’s defenders always argued that the president’s behavior was a private matter. To this day, you can find references to Clinton’s “dalliances” and “peccadilloes.”

People have long excused sexual impropriety and harassment as normal ‘red-blooded male’ behaviour, which has allowed what I think is a small minority of males to continue as sexual predators virtually unchecked. That seems to have suddenly change.

In the end, though, neither Clinton nor Kennedy can escape the “reckoning” of which Hayes and Flanagan refer. In the case of Kennedy, his treatment of women was not simply callous, but jeopardized his presidency. In the case of Clinton, his public policies cannot erase the serious doubts about whether a sexual predator occupied the White House for eight years. And even measured by partisan concerns, Clinton’s behavior materially, perhaps fatally, wounded the campaigns of Gore and Hillary Clinton.

For many of us, it is easy to look at Weinstein, Trump and Moore as case studies in pathological behavior. Looking closer to home is a lot more painful; it is also compulsory.

Unless and until partisans across the board stop justifying unconscionable behavior out of political self-interest, the more likely it is that the pervasive cynicism about the process, and everyone involved in it, will fester and grow.

Emboldened victims (mostly but not all female) may stem the festering. The dirty most male non-secret may finally be addressed.

There are risks of course – trial by media, false or exaggerated accusations, political agendas may all play a part in some cases of unfairness and injustice.

But they are likely to be small degrees of shall we call it collateral damage. For a long long time unfairness and injustice has been allowed to continue virtually unabated, creating a large number of victims. This has had a profound and damaging effect on our society.

While the direct victims are obviously the worst affected there has been a lot of damage done to families and partners and others too. Innocent males have been indirectly affected by association and suspicion – it is understandable that victims become suspicious of and can have difficulty with relationships with far more than the actual perpetrators.

Addressing this insidious problem properly – with some inevitable unfair damage – is overdue, and may have a massive effect on our society in the future. We will all benefit.

 

Genter on gender pay gap and sexual harassment

One of the aims of new Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter is to close the gender pay gap.

“Well, the gender pay gap still exists, and it’s particularly bad for women of colour – Maori and Pacific women, it’s incredibly high. It’s over 20%. For women on average, it’s close to 10%. We were making progress, and for the last decade, it’s stagnated. And I think there’s a real opportunity with a new government to take a much more effective approach.”

She also hopes the US Weinstein scandal will encourage more victims of sexual harassment in New Zealand to speak out.

‘I certainly hope so, and the ‘me too’ hashtag was used in New Zealand. I think many people would have been very surprised and saddened to see just how common it is for women – and people.’

Interview transcript from Q + A:

JULIE ANNE GENTER
Interviewed by Jessica Mutch

JESSICA Julie Anne Genter joins me now. She is the new minister for women. Congratulations on your new role.

JULIE ANNE Thank you.

JESSICA I want to start off asking you ¬– you label yourself as a feminist. What does that mean to you?

JULIE ANNE To me, it just means that women are equal to men and should be treated as such. Historically, we’ve had a whole lot of unconscious bias at play, which has created invisible barriers for women, and particularly women of colour, and so we need to, as a society, recognise that’s been the case and have systems and policies in place to correct that.

JESSICA I want to talk to you first about sexual harassment. There’s been a lot of attention on this globally with Harvey Weinstein and this hashtag ‘me too’. Do you think that will encourage women to come forward globally and also perhaps in New Zealand as well?

JULIE ANNE I certainly hope so, and the ‘me too’ hashtag was used in New Zealand. I think many people would have been very surprised and saddened to see just how common it is for women – and people. It wasn’t just women to experience some form of sexual harassment or violence, and talking about it is probably the first step to us really starting to address it. The Harvey Weinstein case in the United States has been really interesting and unprecedented in that, I think, it’s gotten more traction because the women who were his victims have power in their own right. They’re celebrities. And so the fact they’ve come forward with that has gotten more attention, and I think we need to recognise that sexual harassment is really about power, not sex, and that many women will not, have not been, in a position where they’ve been able to speak openly about it, particularly if the person who is their harasser has power over them in the workplace.

JESSICA Do you think it is a problem in New Zealand as well, and if so, why are more people not coming forward?

JULIE ANNE Absolutely, it will have been a problem in New Zealand, and you could see that even in Parliament a few years ago. Some of my colleagues very bravely spoke out about being victims of sexual violence, and I was even shocked at how widespread it was for women in parliament. And I think the reason that it hasn’t been addressed is because of this power issue, where so often women in more vulnerable situations, if they do bring their complaint, they might be treated with suspicious or they might not be believed, and so what we need to do is ensure that there are clear policies and safe pathways for women and any person experiencing sexual harassment to make a complaint, to address the situation, and, you know, under our legislation in New Zealand, employers have an obligation to ensure that their employees and their customers are free from sexual harassment, and we have two different pathways for making a complaint – one under the employment relations act, one under the human rights act. And the Human Rights Commission in particular is a great place to go and ask for advice, if anyone out there is experiencing sexual harassment and wants to find out what their options are for making a complaint.

JESSICA Because the British prime minister, Theresa May, recently has come out and said, ‘Look, in Parliament, we need to have a set of guidelines,’ because of all of the scandals that have come out there. Do we need to have that in the New Zealand parliament as well? What’s been your experience?

JULIE ANNE We do have a policy in our parliament. Perhaps we could more proactively advertise that and ensure that employees working in Parliament understand their rights, and of course, employers and all of us as parliamentarians, other people who are working as managers in Parliament need to understand your obligations and responsibilities to ensure that people feel safe. I mean, that’s what this is about. It’s people need to feel safe and comfortable, and they have a right to live without feeling that they’re being harassed.

JESSICA What has been your experience about the culture in Parliament?

JULIE ANNE Well, I think that it’s unfortunate that we haven’t yet got equal representation of women in Parliament. I think that changes–

JESSICA It’s only 38%,

JULIE ANNE Yeah, and 38% is better than what it has been. It has been closer to 30% for the last few terms. So we’ve gotten up closer to 40%. My experience in the Green party has been fantastic, because the Green party has since its inception had very clear policies aimed at encouraging female representation and female leadership, and we’ve proven that that’s a success. I mean 75% of our caucus now is female, and they’re incredible competent, capable women. I think we have to recognise that if you don’t have clear policies like that, you will not get equal representation. And I know there are women who think, ‘I don’t want to be there just because I am a women; I want to be there because of merit.’ The reality is because of unconscious bias, women are not represented just because they are women. Unless we have those specific policies in place to improve representation, it’s not going to happen.

JESSICA Have you experienced that bias personally on your journey to Parliament?

JULIE ANNE So, it’s interesting for me, because I worked in incredibly male-dominated fields, so I was a transport consultant. I worked at a company, I was the only female transport consultant in my office. I did have that experience of finding out that some of my male colleagues who were, you know, perhaps not quite as effective as I was, were being paid significantly more than me, and that was quite a surprise. Even though the men around me and the managers, they really did want to encourage me, this still happened. Being the only women finance spokesperson and the only women on the finance and expenditure committee. What I noticed about that is that it’s really important that women are, and particularly women of colour, involved in the decisions and policy at that high level, whether it’s finance and economics or transport. The decisions that get made around those policies affect women’s everyday life. And women have a very different experience – and children – in the city, and we have the ability to ensure that they are safe, that they have equal access and opportunity, that they are paid fairly for their work. And that’s what we need to achieve if we want a fair and successful society.

JESSICA Because that’s one of your coalition agreements. You want to be able to get rid of the gender pay gap in the public sector. You’d like to lessen that, and that’s one of the things that you want to be judged by. We’ve got a female prime minister. We’ve got a female governor general. But only one New Zealand woman is leading a NZX50 company. What does that say about us and the gender pay gap, do you think?

JULIE ANNE Well, the gender pay gap still exists, and it’s particularly bad for women of colour – Maori and Pacific women, it’s incredibly high. It’s over 20%. For women on average, it’s close to 10%. And I think that it’s been stagnating, and so we made progress on it. You know, we started, say, 20 years ago. We were making progress, and for the last decade, it’s stagnated. And I think there’s a real opportunity with a new government to take a much more effective approach that will finally close that last bit of the gap, but it takes some willingness to accept the evidence around what is going to be an effective policy, and so we’ll start by leading. You know, state services, we’re going to try– We are going to close the gender pay gap in the core public service.

JESSICA How long?

JULIE ANNE I think we can do that within four years, and I think we should be aiming to do it as quickly as possible.

JESSICA How will you do that, though?

JULIE ANNE You make the chief executives of government agencies accountable, put it in their KPIs. We know that there are a whole lot of policies and steps and systems that can be taken to close the gender pay gap, and we just need to push those levers a little bit harder.

JESSICA Isn’t it more important, though, that women are judged on their ability, rather than forcing people to even things out like that? Or is it just not happening by itself?

JULIE ANNE Well, we know 80% of the gap that currently exists is due to what are called unexplained factors. And so a lot of that is things like unconscious bias. And some other policies that this government will also address, like paid parental leave, flexible working hours. All of those contribute to the pay gap, and we can do something about it, and we will.

JESSICA What about a quota for women on boards?

JULIE ANNE I think that– I mean, I personally am passionate about at least leading the conversation about how quotas are effective and they work.

JESSICA Do you think that we should implement them?

JULIE ANNE I think that we need to have a debate and a discussion about it? And I think that, you know, the Green party–

JESSICA What’s your view, though?

JULIE ANNE The Green party is just an example of how– We don’t call it a quota, but we say we’re going to have co-leaders – a female leader and a male leader, we’re going to aim for a gender- balanced approach to our list. And that encourages women to step up and put themselves forward, and then what we found in the last election is that women were dominating our top 10, because they’re capable. So we just need to recognise that the reason that women aren’t there is because they’re women, not because they’re not capable and competent. And so we need those systems and policies that are very deliberate to reverse this, and I know that in New Zealand, the NZX has recently implemented a diversity policy, and it will be really interesting to see if that does make a difference, so they have to account for diversity. They have to give a clear policy. And if they don’t make progress in that area, then they’re going to be held accountable.

JESSICA I just want to be clear, though. Do you support a quota for women on boards personally? Do you think it’s the best way to go?

JULIE ANNE I know that overseas, in some countries, it’s been incredibly effective. And some countries, while they’ve had requirement around quotas, they’re not meeting their targets. So I think that we’ll start with a conversation, and any legislative requirement would require getting buy-in from our partners in government, so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to build the political support.

JESSICA So yes from you?

JULIE ANNE Yes, I think that there’s evidence that it’s effective, and if we can’t achieve it otherwise, then I think that we should be exploring it.

JESSICA All right, we’ll have to leave it there, but thank you very much for your time this morning. I really appreciate it.

Sexual harassment certainly needs to be exposed and dealt with better, but care needs to be taken to allow for justice to take it’s course, to not get too ‘PC’ about it, and to not alienate peeople (particularly men) who generally support confronting and reducing sexual harassment.

Watch the interview here.

 

Have the Hollywood abuse floodgates opened?

The allegations of sexual harassment and rape against movie producer Harvey Weinstein (who has admitted bad behaviour and committed himself to a ‘clinic’ but denies ‘non-consensual sex’) has raised an issue that has been swept under the red carpet for a long time.

A number of big name actresses have now spoken out, adding attention and weight to the issue. It has also spread much further than Hollywood stars, with online actions pointing out how widespread and insidious sexual harassment is.

There is a danger that it could go too far, with complaints ranging from rape and professional coercion to leering. And there are also valid concerns about making accusations public and ostracising people who have not been found guilty.

But while there will inevitably be overreach, exaggerated and possible false allegations, and potentially unfair consequences for some, this is a dirty secret that is long overdue for a big clean up. Some collateral damage may be unfortunate but it’s necessary to lance the boil.

That’s if the publicity is sustained and it results in major attitudinal and behavioural changes.

New York Times: Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Opens the Floodgates in Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein is certainly not the first powerful man publicly and credibly accused of sexually harassing or abusing women in recent years.

Since 2015, the Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, the Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and the comedian and actor Bill Cosby have suffered professional, financial or reputational setbacks after numerous women told stories of their sexual misconduct.

Those stories dominated news cycles, to be sure, but the outcry accompanying Mr. Weinstein’s downfall seems louder and more impassioned — perhaps because Mr. Weinstein’s accusers include stars like Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

“I think this is a watershed moment,” said the producer Gail Berman, who had top jobs at Paramount Pictures and the Fox network.

That became clear on Sunday, when Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were flooded with messages from women who used the hashtag #MeToo to acknowledge that they had dealt with sexual harassment or assault.

There is no doubt it has been a widespread and serious problem.

The Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow applauded the movement. “The democratization of the spread of information can finally move faster than a powerful media mogul’s attempts to bury it,” she said by email.

Powerful forces have been largely able to sweep things under the red carpet until now.

Kicked off by reports on the allegations against Mr. Weinstein, the outpouring came a little more than a year after The Washington Post published leaked excerpts from an “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald J. Trump, then a candidate for president, boasted of groping women.

Melinda McGillivray, who stepped forward last year to accuse Mr. Trump of groping her at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in 2003, told BuzzFeed last week that Ms. Paltrow and Ms. Jolie had an impact her accusation did not because of their star power. (Mr. Trump has denied harassment accusations.)

The problem goes right to the top.

Mr. Trump’s election had put some women here on guard against a return to male misbehavior that was more common 40 years ago. And one list circulating among ranking female executives in the industry has tracked a string of promotions of men to senior jobs — at Apple and AMCSony and HuluFox and CBS — amid fear that progress for women has stalled since November.

“Most of the available senior management television jobs this year have gone to men,” said Katie O’Connell, a chief executive of Platform One Media, and formerly the chief executive of Gaumont Television. “While those men were all qualified, it does highlight diminished access for these highest-level positions for women in 2017.”

It’s difficult to know how much is merit, and how much may be prejudice and punishment for not being promiscuous.

At issue now is whether or not Hollywood can continue its old way of doing business, with self-styled “outlaw” executives and auteurs getting away with sexual misconduct as lawyers and publicists protect them.

“I think it’s upsetting and devastating, all of the stories that have come out,” said Nina Jacobson, a film producer who was formerly the president of the Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.

“But I think the floodgates being opened is something that had to happen and that finally brings a subject to the surface that has sort of gone unchecked for countless years.”

Ms. Jacobson, the film producer, said, “There’s an importance to a careful vetting and a careful reposting and not just a free-for-all.”

Some care needs to be taken to be as fair and just as possible, while still enabling victims to come forward without fear.

There doesn’t seem to be much chance of a leading example being set from Trump to confront this problem, but along with Weinstein the president could become a public example of an insidious problem that needs to be once and for all dealt to.