OPINION: Harvey Weinstein: Where do we go from here?

The recent verdict of Harvey Weinstein’s sex crimes is an event that many rape and sexual assault survivors, as well as followers and advocates for the #MeToo movement, will hopefully never forget. 

The split verdict of being guilty of felony rape and sex crime, but not guilty of more serious charges such as predatory sexual assault makes people question what this latest event will have on the future trials of sex crimes around the U.S. 

Although Weinstein’s conviction is a triumph to those brave people –especially the women who spoke out against him –and a leap of progress for the #MeToo movement, it should be seen as a momentous win, but one that causes more urgency for further movement. 

Weinstein’s verdict was only a slap of the wrist to him, only being a maximum of a 25-year-sentence – it does not add up to the lifetime of pain his victims will have to face. 

In January 2015, Brock Turner, a former Stanford student, sexually assaulted a woman behind a dumpster during a college fraternity party. He was sentenced for six months of jail and only served behind bars for three. His short sentencing led many to fear that when it came to sexual assault, men wouldn’t be held accountable for their actions. 

Perhaps Weinstein’s 25-year sentence is a step in the right direction for holding men more responsible for their actions, but with all of his money and financial support, there’s no doubt that he will be released from prison early, like Turner was. 

Abusers are everywhere, and those that are more monetarily powerful will always try to protect themselves and their predatory partners. But this latest conviction will surely set course for a new landscape for survivors of sexual assault – one that needs the consistent  support and fight given by the #MeToo movement and empowered survivors. 

What does his short conviction mean for the Hollywood industry itself? Will positions of power continue to conduct business more secretly and strictly, will more women begin to speak up, or will money be used to bribe for easier punishments? Perhaps it will open up a new era for the entertainment industry and for the empowerment of women and sexual assault victims. 

“It does actually feel like a turning point to me. Because so many women said literally ‘me too,’finally it couldn’t be ignored. I’m hopeful,” said Damon Kiely, chair of performance at DePaul’s theatre school. “I imagine that men are finally on notice. I don’t see this movement moving backwards but only forward.” 

Chanel Miller, formerly known as Emily Doe in the Brock Turner case, is a leader of the #MeToo movement, one that shed her animosity to bring strength and leadership to those who suffered right alongside her. She’s a powerful example of how the movement is so empowering and so important to stay in tact. Just like how the #MeToo movement flourished in 2015, hopefully it will continue  to gain momentum now after Weinstein’s trial. 

“I think this is something that can, and I hope will have positive long term effects in giving people, especially giving women more confidence that their concerns will be heard,” said Christopher Parrish, a professor of cinematic arts. “Not just their concerns but their experiences, their trauma and attacks will be taken more seriously.” 

“It’s really no secret how abusive Harvey Weinstein has been to his employees and others for years,” Parrish said. “People weren’t necessarily privy to all of that but there’s no possible way that all of this just happened in a vacuum where only Harvey was responsible and no one else knew about it in that company – not a chance.” 

Weinstein’s trial is an obvious victory for the #MeToo movement and those who are victims of Weinstein and other Hollywood and entertainment executives. But hopefully one victory will not lay it to rest for those future victims and women who are always at risk of sexual assault, rape and predators in any field of work. 

“This is misogyny, toxic misogyny in the workplace with sexual harassment against women, in some cases against men, not many, has been going on for a very long time,” Parrish said.  “It is an incredibly positive step of what has happened – that Weinstein is seeing jail time – but in terms of him getting off on the more serious charges, it’s disappointing. But at least there is some morsel of justice that the survivors can take solace in and find some positivity in this predator being put behind bars, but honestly I think he just got off way, way too easily. I don’t think this monster should ever be able to see the light of day again.” 

It can be agreed on by many that Weinstein’s sentence is deemed too short for his actions, but there’s no doubt that at least some justice was brought. 

“Although I wish his sentence was longer, I think, in his case specifically, justice was served,” said DePaul junior Anne Toner. “His name has been disgraced from Hollywood and he will forever represent an abuser.” 

Weinstein’s case and conviction sent out a clear message that the behavior and actions he took part in will no further be tolerated in any field of work – but with the help and future progress of the #MeToo movement, no victim will have to stand alone. The movement must remain strong and intact – although this is an act of victory, it cannot dwindle away and be forgotten about over time. 

“My biggest hope is that people don’t forget about this, I hope that #MeToo doesn’t just fade away in a few years and become that thing that happened for that short period of time and then have these predators back to their usual practices.” Parrish said. “I hope that this is something that creates a positive permanence in people to feel comfortable and respected and safe in the workplace.” 

Harvey Weinstein’s trial and conviction is a momentous achievement against sexual assault and predators in the workplace, but it’s simply only the beginning of a new era brought to empower the victims of sexual assault. The bravery and strengths of voices of the #MeToo movement can never let go of its battle – it’s not over yet.