If she hadn’t married the Governor of California, she would have been “just another bimbo” who engaged in “transactional sex” to get ahead.

Harvey Weinstein’s attorney, in an opening statement straight out of the 1980s, reportedly dismissed and denigrated Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who took the stand last week to testify against Harvey Weinstein.

I don’t know how the women on the jury reacted, but every woman I know who heard of the remark backed off, or worse. How dare he.

And then there was the rest. She had to ask if she was drinking champagne. She must have known it was coming, must have wanted it or traded it or something.

Harvey Weinstein is not on trial for using a casting couch. He is on trial for rape. The charge is not that he persuaded Hollywood hopefuls with the promise of a starring role. The charge is that he raped them, by force or the threat of force.

Strength. Non-consent. No means no. What does that have to do with whether the woman is a bimbo or not?

Who is judged here?

I give huge credit to California’s first partner for having the courage to come forward and testify, knowing full well the scrutiny she would face. Knowing full well she would be cross-examined on why she stayed in contact with a man who raped her, or why her husband accepted political contributions from her. Of course, he was asked these questions, even if the answer is as obvious as it is painful: he was a powerful man, and we don’t talk about these things.

Sometimes — like when reading Weinstein’s opening statement — I despair at how little the rape cases change. This opening statement could have been given at the time. It would have made a good chapter in the book I wrote at the time, about the bad old days when I first came out and was called out, about defending the “crazy and bitchy” and my own rule of three (“one might be a nut, two might be a bitch, but three and you win”).


Why it is still used as the defense of choice today is the real question. Is this Weinstein’s best hope? Go back in time and have each of the women judged? Apparently he thinks so. And his whimsical lawyers too.

My money says they’re wrong.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think anyone — and I hope that includes the jury — sees California’s first partner as a “bimbo.” I hope we have gone far enough that they see her as the brave woman that she is, as a woman who still remembers and relives the painful details of her victimization, even as she proclaims her survival.

I hope we have gone far enough to recognize maturity and courage in the face of victimization and humiliation, that we see a woman who could be your sister, wife or daughter standing up to a man who treated like shit. Who was wrong. Who deserves to be punished for what he did to her. Because no matter who she married or not, her sexual autonomy deserved to be respected, and failure to do so is a crime that deserves punishment. The bimbo affair is totally irrelevant.

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