Opinion

Saturday 21 April 2018

Dr Ciara Kelly: Weinstein-like plot twist that became a reality

Attackers seek to normalise abuse
Attackers seek to normalise abuse

Ciara Kelly

One of the most interesting things about the whole Harvey Weinstein litany of alleged abuse was hearing the recording of him attempting to coerce Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a young model he had already groped in a business meeting the day before, into his hotel room. She had reported that assault to the police and while she was filing a report he rang her and begged her to meet him again. The cops suggested she wear a wire so they could listen to what happened. It was like a plot twist in one of his own movies but hearing a serial sexual predator at work was oddly fascinating.

His wheedling entreaties. His almost frantic desperation to get her into the room. His attempts to manipulate her with suggestions she was embarrassing him and causing a scene. His attempted use of her own innate politeness against her.

He tried many different approaches to coax and bully her into entering his bedroom, none of which ultimately worked, and so he left her in the hall with a combination of irritation and feigned hurt. It was an unexpected recorded example of what appears to be a specific pattern of behaviour where Weinstein seemed entirely indifferent to the distress of his female victims and appeared to get off on exerting power over them - as much as on the sex acts themselves. He masturbated as women barricaded themselves into bathrooms and as he blocked their exit from hotel rooms, offices and restaurant basements. Bringing himself to climax while cowed and horrified women stood trapped before him was clearly something he had a particular predilection for. That and demanding massages that no one wanted to give. He didn't ask for sex straight out, he pretended that wasn't what he wanted - he just wanted them to help him relax. But then the massage would turn aggressively into something else.

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