Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Brett Ratner, Dustin Hoffman. Michael Oreskes. Michael Fallon.
The names of men who have been accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour ranging from an unwanted hand on the knee, the commission of sexual acts through coercion through to rape. All of varying degrees of seriousness. All allegations coming to the fore in a current climate of exposure.
Some of the men have admitted certain sexual misconduct. Others vehemently deny it and state it never happened or the act occurred but there was consent. Whilst certainly innocent until proven guilty in a criminal court, there has been public vilification with organisations distancing themselves from the accused from cancelling television programmes to removing certain memberships and honours.
The backdrop of a tidal wave of allegations coming from famous and not so famous victims has widened to many people confirming that they have been a victim of unwelcome sexual behaviour and thus the hashtag me too began to trend on social media.
The reaction to this cause celebre has been varied :-
- Praise for victims of this behaviour who now feel emboldened enough to speak out about it;
- Concerns about a band wagon mentality which results in false allegations being made and real concerns being taken less seriously;
- Questions about why the victims are only speaking up now;
- Criticism of those who stayed silent and accepted a pay off in return;
- Accusations of there being witch hunts.
As I have pointed out previously, for all of the copious acres of newsprint on these allegations and exposures, the fact that the perpetrators are of our kind (see the articles A Very Hollywood Narcissist and A Very Deflecting Narcissist ) and are more than likely going to be of our kind, has been missed.
Yet the spectre of narcissism in this matter does not end there.
There can be no doubt that there are many victims that I shall call True Victims of unwelcome and distressing inappropriate sexual behaviour. Whether it was an attempt to gain sexual gratification through the promise of success or the threat of failure to instances where sexual assault or rape occurred, there are True Victims.
Why are many only speaking out now? There are two fundamental reasons behind this.
The first is that certain ‘pioneers’ have led the allegations and since those allegations have received airtime, newsprint and not been brushed under the carpet as they once were, these True Victims have realised that they can now at last reveal what has happened to them without fear or consequence, or at least a reduced impact in that regard. There is a far more receptive atmosphere to the allegations. Do not think however that this is because the mainstream media suddenly cares – it does not – but this is news and news sells, so it is allowed prominence. The public at large may be more receptive owing to a change in outlook over the decades – what once might have been seen as ‘harmless slap and tickle’ is now regarded in a more serious light – but the public’s reception is not one of wholesale change (see the less favourable comments bandied around about the accusers) and furthermore it is not the shift in a section of society’s values which has enabled this mass confession. Having seen certain noteworthy names come forward and state their case and have it listened to, has caused further complainants to emerge benefitting from this strength in numbers. This is one of the reasons why so many are speaking out.
The second reason is a darker reason and I shall return to that presently.
Why are they only speaking out now? Why didn’t they do something at the time? They are creating a witch hunt, jumping on the bandwagon and creating a climate of fear for anyone who dares to even compliment someone. These are the cries of the detractors.
The True Victims are only speaking out now because when the alleged actions took place they felt unable to and this is for a variety of reasons:-
a. Fear of not being believed;
b. Fear of repercussions;
c. Blurred lines;
d. Fear of victim-blaming
e. The imbalance of power
These are entirely valid reasons. Why? They are entirely valid because my our kind rely on these forms of manipulation to enable us to keep a hold over our victims, extract fuel from them, maintain control and avoid culpability. These five issues are present through all manner of abuse of a victim, not just in the sexual arena.
a. We generate a facade of respectability, of being a pillar of the community and not someone who would ever engage in such behaviour. Who is going to be believed? The reputable charity-supporting business man or the young drop-out?
b. Retaliation is a key part of our arsenal. Don’t do what we want and expect there to be repercussions – the end of the relationship, us choosing someone else, you not getting the job or the contract, others being told not to deal with you, physical violence, financial pressure, the rolling out of the other well-known manipulations that we use against our victims. Cross us, challenge our control and you know what happens. These True Victims knew this too.
c. The situation is made less clear cut than it actually was. We use plausible deniability, gas lighting and deflection so you perhaps doubt whether any transgression actually took place and that you were really a willing participant.
d. We are notorious for smearing those who challenge us and somebody who is a major player in an industry which is both fickle and hard to penetrate. It is difficult enough to gain work to begin with and would become impossible if key players smear that person. Furthermore, the concepts of the casting couch, the use of feminine wiles, the perception that people will use looks and sexuality to secure an advantage, the idea that the victim knew what this person was like and still engaged with them and other long-standing perceptions all results in an attitude that the victim asked for it and shouldn’t then go crying about it.
e. Our kind always operate on an imbalance of power. Sometimes it is obvious – the famous producer and the receptionist, the Oscar winner and the barman, the acclaimed director and the aspiring actress. Often it is less obvious. Many victims are independent, intelligent and strong individuals but this becomes useless when a narcissist ensnares them because we select those victims who are inherently susceptible to what we are and how we operate. The victim does not stand a chance and for all of their grit, spunkiness and spirit, they do not see us coming and do not realise how they face a massive imbalance of power when it comes to us ensnaring them. Every battle is won before it is ever fought and that relies on this imbalance of power (in many different ways) between narcissist and victim.
Thus the concerns of these True Victims are real, accurate and operated (as we always want them to) to keep them quiet and compliant.
Yet, this is not the whole story. There are others who are victims – they suffered the inappropriate behaviour etc – but their responses are entirely different. Why is this? It is because those victims are narcissists too.
A narcissist will ensnare another narcissist. Often it is unwitting and of course if it is a one off involvement the outcome, in terms of fuel, will be similar to that of an empathic victim. It is over the longer term that such a clash between narcissist and narcissist, largely, becomes unsustainable.
Those victim narcissists did nothing in the first instance because they saw no reason to do so, not because there were the factors which I have described above but because :-
a. The victim narcissist is being fuelled – the behaviour of the predator narcissist is fuel. Whether negative or positive, it amounts to fuel;
b. The victim narcissist sees an advantage in receiving this attention. They either positively embrace it as a way to progress their position – the ‘casting couch’ concept – or they use it as a method to seek to manipulate the predator narcissist in an alternative way, for instance threatening a complaint to gain an advantage such as a role or a pay off or dangling the prospect of a further interaction for additional fuel and other benefits;
c. The victim narcissist stands more to gain by embracing or at least not complaining about the behaviour – at that juncture.
The factors I described earlier which impact on a True Victims are not actually issues which concern the victim narcissist but that victim narcissist may well use those reasons at a later stage to further their own position. This exemplified the expedient behaviour of the narcissist who is also a victim of the predator narcissist. He or she stays silent years ago because it is a benefit to do so, not because they are especially concerned about the risk of doing so and then this expedient behaviour manifests at a later stage by then joining the tide of complaints with the True Victims. They then, adopting the victim mentality which narcissists have, use the concerns of the True Victims, adopting for themselves because that is an advantage for them to do so.
How then does one identify these victim narcissists? An analysis of the individual and their behaviour is likely to demonstrate the key indicators – lack of empathy, sense of entitlement, use of manipulation, grandiosity, lack of accountability etc but there is also a further substantial reason.
There are those who have claimed to be or are victims of Weinstein et al who have then got themselves into a position of power of influence. They are rich, they can choose the scripts that are sent to them, they begin producing films themselves, they are famous, they have influence in Hollywood and beyond.
Yet they said nothing.
They are in a powerful position, standing on a platform from which they could readily expose their abuser and not only be believed but cause action to be taken. They could state “This happened to me” and do so truthfully and bring influence to bear and be a torch bearer for those less powerful to gather under their banner of exposure. But they did not. They did not do so 5 or 10 or 15 years ago, even though it is generally accepted the behaviour of the predator narcissists has been going on for a considerable period of time. Why have these now powerful individuals stayed silent? They need not fear repercussions, there is no or a far smaller imbalance of power, they will be believed but they did not speak out.
They did not do so because they are narcissists too and in common with their lack of empathy, sense of entitlement and self-interest they saw nothing to be gained in speaking out. However, when others who are True Victims have spoken out, these victim narcissist s, ever knee to gain fuel, maintain the facade and benefit themselves have confirmed ‘me too’, condemned their abusers, railed against anybody for victim-shaming and exhibited false empathy.
Accordingly, when some observers criticise the behaviour of some of the victims, there is some force in their criticism albeit it is not based on the actual dynamic of why these victims have behaved in that way.
The True Victims are above reproach for the reasons explained. There are however, clear reasons to question the behaviour of some and those are the victim narcissists.
This brings us back to the question of why these exposures have happened now. People have been led to believe that there has been a shift in values which has empowered people to come forward. There has not been such a shift in the last 5,10 or 20 years. So, why did these exposures not occur 5 years ago on such a scale? Why not 15 years ago?
Ordinarily the transgressions of the predator narcissists would be covered up, kept in check by their handlers and those who have an interest in maintaining the status quo. The reason that people have been able to come forward, that their exposures have not been quashed through threat or pay-off as a consequence of the powerful and far-reaching capability of certain individuals, is because those individuals have been the catalyst for these exposures and have their own reasons for wanting to see the exposures gain momentum and the downfall of particular individuals. Once upon a time any such ‘dissent’ would have been crushed, sidelined, diluted or discouraged. No longer. There is a purpose to allowing the exposure to happen and to flourish.
There will be much more to come.
Now, what type of people do you think are behind causing this to happen and allowing it to happen?