Harvey Weinstein’s smiling, bearded face on camera hid a twisted, lust-driven character, according to the New York Times and other sources. The growing reports of his unwanted sexual advances toward various women in the entertainment, fashion, and news reporting industries are revealing Mr. Weinstein as a paramour with an out-of-control sexual appetite. But while journalists, entertainers, and politicians alike are expressing shock, horror, and disgust over his lewd actions around women, what I find equally appalling is our news media’s reaction of revulsion to Weinstein’s behavior just two weeks after lauding and praising the “pioneering” life of Hugh Hefner upon his passing.
For Mr. Weinstein’s part, we have to look at how he turned into the man he is. I greatly doubt that as a young boy, Harvey said to himself one day, “When I grow up, I wanna be a disgusting, horny, lustful, womanizing exhibitionist and pervert who engages in deviant sexual behavior with beautiful young women.” More likely, Mr. Weinstein grew up in a home where Playboy magazine lay in the same rack with Time, Sports Illustrated, and the daily newspaper. Added to that, it wouldn’t surprise me if pornographic films and books were also available in his home, which was common among my peers growing up. As an adolescent, he very likely saw more than his share of nude photos of women, plus women engaged in a variety of sex acts, all of which would have fueled his desire for the lurid and the sensual. While this is all conjecture on my part, I’m certain that if Mr. Weinstein receives counseling for sexual addiction, his counselors will find this to be a key aspect of his life history. Growing up in an environment in which the social and moral philosophy of hedonism was embraced as good, fun, and even virtuous, as expressed in Playboy and in other similar media outlets, helped Harvey Weinstein to become what he is today, a man permanently stuck in the early adolescent fantasy world of the Playboy culture who can no longer recognize the reality of how most women really want to be treated.
This brings me back to the disgust I felt over how our news media reported on the death of Hugh Hefner. He was presented in a glowing manner as a ground-breaking media mogul who brought sex out from behind the closed door of the master bedroom and out into the public discourse as the most popular topic of our day. For Hefner, sex wasn’t meant to be a deep, intimate, expression of love between a man and a woman committed to each other for life in the institution of marriage. It was meant to be a pleasure sought after for its own sake. This was a constant theme found in the articles of his magazine, as others have noted, reinforced by the four-color air-brushed images of nubile females appearing in the middle pages of each issue. The very title given to the centerfolds of “Playmate of the Month” suggests not a living, thinking person, but a toy, an object of pleasure for men who have difficulty dealing with their sex drives in a constructive manner. What this reveals about Hefner is that he, like Harvey Weinstein, was also stuck psychologically in permanent early adolescence in which fantasy rules over reality in their understanding of sexuality and of how women really are. Hefner’s view of women, by all accounts, was that they were creatures intended primarily to satisfy the male sexual appetite, instead of being co-regents in the establishment and building of homes and families.
So, the real question here is not “How could Harvey Weinstein do such things to women?”, but rather “Why should what he has done be so shocking?” Harvey Weinstein is a product of the hedonistic, Playboy culture and the sexual revolution it helped to spawn, a culture that preaches a message of “drop your inhibitions about sex by dropping your pants (or your zipper, at least), and get sexual pleasure wherever, however, and with whomever you can.” This is the philosophy Hugh Hefner both extolled and lived by, and according to our media, was greatly admired and envied by many men for being able to live it out. But what made Hugh Hefner any different from Harvey Weinstein? The only real difference I can see is Hefner figured out how to use beautiful young women for his own selfish pleasure and get away with it, while Weinstein couldn’t. Hefner was a paper pimp who paid young women to not only appear naked in his magazine, but also to serve as a “stable” of beautiful babes he kept in his mansion to entertain his male friends like Bill Cosby, and lie down for him whenever he wanted sexual pleasure. Weinstein tried to get that for free without consent, and that is regarded as a crime by the entertainment industry, and likely by district attorneys as well.
I don’t mean to convey the belief that Harvey Weinstein should not be held accountable for his actions. He must be, for his own good, as well as for the sake of justice for his victims. But I find the hypocrisy of our news media particularly nauseating in their praise of Hugh Hefner for helping to launch the sexual revolution in this country, when it is the sexual revolution that helped shape the Harvey Weinsteins of our day. Unless and until we are willing as a nation and a culture to confront the contributing sources of sexual perversion that show up in men like Weinstein, holding those sources accountable for creating the twisted fantasy world in the minds of such people, the disease of sexual addiction will only worsen, making more sexual predators like Weinstein, and leaving more victims in their wake.