Harvey Weinstein, A Monster of Our Making: Let's Talk about the Pornographic Elephant in the Room

Time’s up.

And it’s about time too. But who is time up for? Well, time’s up for Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and the like. Maybe they’ll end up behind bars someday soon, maybe they’ll be stopped from hurting anyone else. But what’s stopping someone else from filling their shoes?

#MeToo has rocked the nation. Whether you agree with it, ascribe to it or vehemently disapprove, its far reach and deep impact is unmistakable. Women from all over the world and all walks of life have come to say that they have been abused or sexually harassed, primarily by men. Women live in a kind of world men cannot fathom. The abuse is systemic, but perhaps the roots of this abuse are not in the hearts of men, but elsewhere.

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Much of the critique of the feminist movement has been a reaction to the “man-hating” many seem to recognize. But how do you stop man-hating when men are the ones causing half the trouble? And isn’t it about time men get a little taste of what it’s like to be powerless? Even if the search for abusers turns into some kind of witch hunt, is it not men’s turn to be scared?

The sentiment is certainly understandable. I, as a man myself, rarely feel sympathetic to the men ducking for cover under the current reign of female judgement. “Good,” I think, “because if they’ve got nothing to hide, then they should have nothing to worry about.” But then I remember, I have something to hide. I have something to worry about.

I’m not talking about sin in general or some unknown primordial secret, I’m talking about pornography. Men watch porn. It’s as much a part of life for most men as learning to ride a bike. If men started a #MeToo for having had an addiction to porn at one point in their life, it would be as equally widespread as the original. Only, men won’t ever do that because no one wants to admit to watching porn.

Men choose to watch porn, let that be known now. Men are not victims in the same sense that women are. Men do not have something forced upon them, not really. When the rubber meets the road, we always have a choice. However, the telling thing about it all is that as far as I know, all men make the same choice somewhere down the line. Any man I have ever been close enough to for them to open up to me about such things has always confessed to either an ongoing or past addiction to pornography. From the greatest to the least of us, we all end up falling in.

This does not excuse the problem, it merely defines it. Weinstein and Spacey should have to answer for their sins, but what can we do now to stop this cycle from perpetuating? Because a search for abusers, while deeply important, does not solve the problem. It treats the symptoms. So, I think that an anger at men might be slightly misplaced. It is those who prey on men and women alike who should be brought to justice. The porn industry has got to go.

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Men live in a battlefield. Whether it’s the next episode of Game of Thrones or pop-ups on a website, men are being targeted everywhere they go. And our whole system deals with these weaknesses in contradictory terms--from How I Met Your Mother’s trivialization and comedic representation of porn, to the condemning of individuals like Louis C.K, whose actions are undeniably a result of his habitual porn watching. Prostitution is illegal, yet if a camera is on in the corner of the room it’s suddenly okay?

Men also can’t be seen as the only victims of pornography, because pornography horribly miseducates men on what sex is all about. Weinstein watched porn; so did Spacey, and Louis C.K. has told us as much. Their actions are linked to their habits. Even without accounting for the horrible things porn stars themselves experience, women are deeply affected by men who have been taught sexual misconduct through porn. Sex sells, but pornography ruins the lives of men and women everywhere.

The porn industry doesn’t exist on its own. It is a machine that feeds on, churns up and spits out the lives of men and women everywhere. They are left used, abused, addicted and empty. It’s time we get to the heart of the issue. Weinstein, Spacey and C.K. are not the problem, they are the outcome. So, time’s up for pornography. Time’s up for inconsistent standards. It’s time for porn to go.

The opinions reflected in this OpEd are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of staff, faculty and students of The King's College

The original version of this OpEd was published in Issue 8 of the EST Magazine


OpinionZachary Owens