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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Male entitlement is a universal sickness

Harvey Weinstein was but the tip of the iceberg, as the #metoo hashtag clearly proves

How many of Mr Weinstein’s male co-workers were manipulated or bullied into letting him have his way, and how many were complicit by way of silent cooperation? Ian Langsdon / EPA
How many of Mr Weinstein’s male co-workers were manipulated or bullied into letting him have his way, and how many were complicit by way of silent cooperation? Ian Langsdon / EPA

Lurid details of the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinsten’s squalid conduct continue to appear every day. Indeed, the details emerging about women who were paid off to keep their lips sealed about the abuse are accompanied by the slow realisation that his actions occurred in an ecosystem of silence. But as more allegations against Mr Weinstein surface, so, too, did Twitter hashtag #metoo, instigated by actress Alyssa Milano and shared by women the world over who have suffered sexual harassment.

Unsurprisingly, the hashtag – and stories of sexual assault – were shared millions of times on social media within 24 hours. Like Bill Cosby, Antony Weiner and other men of power, Mr Weinstein was but the tip of the iceberg. Ms Milano's call for women to come out and admit they were harassed resonated with so many that it quickly transformed into a movement.

A poll recently conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranking the world's 10 most dangerous cities for women found that almost all were in the developing world. For example, as The National reported on Monday, the Egyptian capital, Cairo, was named the most dangerous megacity in the world for women overall and third worst in terms of sexual violence.

In short, whether expressed through demeaning behaviour in broad daylight or assault away from the eyes of the law, male entitlement transcends boundaries and socioeconomic class. In the developed world, it seems, power wields this entitlement, while in the third world, a lack of rights and economic hardship seem to be the culprits. The Weinstein revelations were all the more explosive given who he is, but merely served as a catalyst to a fierce backlash by women who have suffered in silence for too long.

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