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What About This? By Wayne William Cipriano

By Wayne William Cipriano

I am very concerned about some of the commentary I’ve heard since the Weinstein verdicts came down. Mostly, this concept or whatever you’d call it that it’s okay not to report this kind of behavior to the cops. Somehow it is okay to keep it to yourself. It’s even “understandable” or “very common” to continue to have social interaction with someone who has done something as despicable as this to a victim.

There seems to be little attention paid to having placed oneself into a situation where such behavior is not only predictable, but almost invited. Little attention paid to continuing relationships after such contemptible behavior occurs. And very little attention paid to the idea that when such horrible behavior goes unreported, others are placed in danger from these predators because these predators have gotten away with such behavior once again.

So, why is that?

In the case of this Weinstein character it seems clear as water to me that he was offering potential professional acting rewards to women in exchange for sexual favors, either voluntary or forces. And many women seemed willing to risk one for the other. And there also seemed to be quite a few women who reportedly said “No” and walked away unscathed. And, possibly, some who said “Yes” and enjoyed the professional benefits.

We were told of years and years of sexual abuse by Weinstein but I never heard of one arrest for it. Now, just because I didn’t hear of them doesn’t mean such arrests did not take place, but you’d think it would have made it into the news if arrests had happened. 

When me work for guys like Weinstein, there may not be a lot of sexual favors, although there may be some, but usually it is other, non-work related stuff – getting the boss’ car washed, picking up the dry cleaning, laughing at stupid off-putting jokes, praising foolish ideas, accepting humiliating demeaning interactions just to keep a job or secure a promotion.

I’m not, of course, comparing dry cleaning drop-offs with rape, but I’m saying that lots of people endure lots of extra curricular “stuff” to get or stay ahead. If you don’t like washing the boss’ car, don’t do it. If you don’t want to laugh at the jokes or take the humiliation, don’t. And if it comes to that, there’s the door. And if the boss does something illegal and it offends you to the point as forcible sexual abuse (however you define it) should offend you, CALL THE COPS! That’s what they are for, and they want to help.

I will now avoid discussing what most police officers will say here when they relate all the times they have tried to intervene in such disputes only to learn that not formal charges are forthcoming, for a multitude of reasons from “she didn’t really mean to cut me” to “if you arrest him he’ll lose his job and the kids will starve.” I’ll just say that the cops want to help.

This tactic of putting the misbehavior in your pocket and remaining quiet as long as some benefit is possible in the future, and then, when the potential for that benefit disappears, suddenly finding the strength and the character to call out that behavior for what it was seems transparent to me.

This might be a good place to talk about statutes of limitations and how they can and should interact with these cases of sexual abuse (however we define it) but that interaction seems monumental in scope to me and I do not know anywhere enough about statutes. This is, however, an interesting discussion to have. And the lag time between offense and report begs the question of importance.

If a crime is not important enough to report promptly, if not serious enough to avoid comparable situations in the future, if its impact doesn’t mandate avoiding the company of the offender afterward, what are we to think? Should the fact that no more potential advantage exists for the victim open the door to prosecution for behavior that while disgusting was tolerable when such advantage existed?

I’m really up in the air about this. I’m a father and we have daughters. I know how I would feel and what I would do if something like Weinstein happened to them. I’m also a man and I’ve experienced seducation-with-limits behavior. It can be difficult to decide where the boundaries are. But, the North Star of sexual interaction is the word “NO.”

“NO” means “NO” each and every time. “NO” today may not extend to next week, tomorrow, perhaps not even to an hour from now. Minds change. Situations change. But “NO’ means “NO.” “STOP” means “STOP.” And if we don’t think we have enough control over ourselves to understand “NO” or “STOP,” we need to avoid situations where “NO” or “STOP” might be “difficult” or “impossible” to observe. 

But, positing that “NO” or “STOP” today means “NO” or “STOP” forever flies in the face of human operation. Believing that those “NO” or “STOP” orders today apply unsaid to flirting or seduction next week or next month is asking for confusion, misinterpretation, and ultimately deep trouble for everyone involved.

“NO” means “NO,” “STOP” means “STOP” each and every time, right now. But, forever? Especially when some new or continuing advantage seems to exist that might nullify those previous desists?

I’ve spent a lot of time discussing that seem to be the criminal aspects of the Weinstein thing as it relates to the hows and whys when a person accepts the potential risks of what may be a dangerous situation for the potential rewards and then remains quiet about sexual abuse (however we define it) when such rewards to not pan out, then to report abuse later, sometimes much later, when the potential for those professional rewards become unrealistic.

I haven’t said anything about benefits that might occur to a reported victim as a result of a civil action in court resulting in monetary damages being awarded long after such reported behavior occurs.  What the legal profession refers to using the Latin phrase “Ka-Jing.” I have heard of no such cases being filed or even contemplated, but I have seen the omnipresent spectre of Gloria Allred and it tends to make me wonder.

As I said, I am up in the air about this entire subject, seeming to be on both sides, or all sides, at once. Hopefully, this speaks to the complexity of the issue and not to my inability to grasp the fundamentals. I’d really like to hear the opinions of others.

Ever hear of the “Letters To The Editor” section of the Douglas County Herald?