“Me too” and Obscene Altruism

A steady stream of two words, “me too”, clog my Facebook account. These two words represent awareness-raising and passive protest by women in the face of sexual aggression since the media mogul and philanthropist Harvey Weinstein was accused as a sexual predator last week (Oct 5, 2017).

This is not an unfamiliar tale. Accounts of male domination and the abuse of power bring back memories of Canada’s own scandal within the hallowed halls of the CBC, when popular radio show host Jion Ghomeshi was accused of sexual assault by multiple women http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/jian-ghomeshi-how-he-got-away-with-it/. Using the platform of his radio show Q Ghomeshi crafted an on-air persona as a sensitive, progressive feminist, which helped draw women to him. It seems that his CBC star status helped him to create his own personal honey pot.

How could both of these public, male, powerhouses avoid scrutiny for so long in their aggression against women? Ultimately, these acts happen behind closed doors, rendering them to the realms of gossip. As the whispers grew louder these creative stars were circled round by those closest to them, all making excuses for these abominations. These two men were making people a lot of money, and in my view, causing a certain type of blindness induced by the shine of money.

The power of money was taken to an obscene extreme by Weinstein with his acts of “compromised altruism”. The New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb describes Weinstein as acting under the “cloak of charity” https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/harvey-weinstein-bill-cosby-and-the-cloak-of-charity?elqTrackId=6221331ae9504089ab330e176abf3e30&elq=02e6d0249e8d4050bdce95af73a45845&elqaid=16091&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=6944

The creatively-talented Weinstein used highly public and visible philanthropy to develop his persona as a progressive male. In the name of altruism he championed women in both politics and scholarship. He “empowered women” publicly, while at the same time and behind closed doors, allegedly used power for sexual domination.

The Weinstein scandal is a graphic illustration of the obscene avenues “giving” can take; the dim, dark and secretive alleyways of altruism that defy the much-heralded shining story of philanthropy. We need to shine the light on philanthropy’s dark alleyways as much as the light. We need to understand the dark side of philanthropy, and to understand the twisted, obscene forms of altruism.

Me too.

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