Victim-blaming, misogyny, and conspiracy theories: A Rebuttal to Blogger JJ Gross

In his factually feeble and reason-defying blog, Why the NY Times is suddenly taking down Harvey Weinstein, JJ Gross suggests a causal relationship between two disparate issues – the fall of Harvey Weinstein, and the moral and thinking world’s opposition to Donald Trump. It’s the type of writing one would expect to find on a wacky, conspiracy theory peddling alt-right website, and not in a mainstream news source such as The Times of Israel. Gross’ argument is not just a matter of different opinion- it is grossly factually inaccurate, promoting false and incendiary ideas. More importantly, it is hateful, deluded, and dangerous. The misogynistic language and victim blaming that he employs in this post are features of the culture which enables people like Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump to behave as they do and get away with it for so long.

Gross’ beef is not with the Weinsteins, Cosbys, O’Reileys of the world but with the mainstream media. He is outraged by what he sees as a pass given to the Clintons for Bill’s sexual assaults, while “they” attempted to take down Trump over his flagrant history of sexually assaulting women and abusing his power. As Gross puts it, Trump is an Eagle Scout in comparison to media darlings, Clinton and Weinstein.

The real story, according to the author, is that Harvey Weinstein was brought down not by the brave women he violated and intimidated, but rather by the New York Times.

Mr. Gross then charges ahead, with nothing but conspiratorial zeal to back him up, that The New York Times is punishing Weinstein for crossing his pro-BDS buddies in the liberal media when he decided to make a pro-Israel movie this past April.

Mr. Gross is angry not at Weinstein’s abhorrent behavior but at the Democrats, political correctness, Hollywood, and of course, Hillary Clinton. He uses hateful and vile language against the people who took part in the Women’s March, terming them: “… a million hollering dames march on Washington clad in vaginal millinery“.

In a classic victim blaming trope, Gross asks why the women didn’t speak up before.

One can, of course, ask what young lady with half a brain would go up to a mogul’s hotel room unchaperoned and expect to find anything other than a dirty old man bartering stardom for sexual favors. What exactly where (sic) these girls thinking? And who forced them to comply, or even remain in Weinstein’s room? Surely he did not hold them at gunpoint.

Had Gross read up on the case he would have been supplied with an answer: Weinstein was aided and abetted by an entire industry, as in this sad piece. And that because he wielded so much power, women were terrified of coming forward. He was holding their careers and their reputations at virtual gunpoint. Not to mention the accounts of him physically blocking doorways.

We applaud the women (and men) who were so brave in going public with these accounts of their abuse and humiliation. According the Bureau of Justice statistic, between 2006 and 2010 65% of rape and sexual assault cases went unreported. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1 in 4 women are victims of sexual harassment at work. We’d venture that many more cases go unreported. Is it any wonder when to do so is to risk one’s livelihood, reputation, and credibility?

In this year of endless heart-breaking news, something good happened. A despicable abuser will finally pay for his crimes. His victims took him down. They spoke up. And in so doing, our world will hopefully begin to see some reckoning for women. JJ Gross resorts to politicking, misogyny, making baseless claims, as well as bringing Israel into an issue that has nothing to do with it.

This post was written in collaboration with Rachel Canar and Pantsuit Nation Israel, founded in the spirit of Pantsuit Nation and its message that storytelling sparks change. We are a supportive community of Americans living in Israel. We recognize our unique ability to represent a progressive American voice in Israel that rejects the normalization of hate in the American public discourse. We are non-partisan and welcome men and women of all backgrounds. Our goals include empowering our members to stand up for greater gender equality.

About the Author
Rachel Gutman is an American living in Israel for over half her life. She is a mother of three girls, and works in the field of International Development. She is an active member of Pantsuit Nation Israel.