I Still Live With What Harvey Weinstein Did
An interview in Hong Kong lingers with me until this day, six months after he was sentenced to prison
This essay contains a description of sexual assault.
I met Harvey Weinstein in 2014. I was reporting on politics for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong when a friend of a friend asked me to translate during his dinner meeting. At the restaurant, Harvey introduced himself with brio. He was charming and tenacious and said he was in town working on several important projects. He wanted to talk to the press. We agreed to an interview, and his assistant took my information.
A few days later at the Mandarin Oriental, his assistant arrived 30 minutes late and informed me Harvey was not feeling very well but also very busy, and could I come upstairs to do the interview? She led me to the suite, where Harvey talked animatedly about his new Netflix drama, Marco Polo. He handed me a portable DVD player and headphones, and I put it on to watch the preview. When I looked up, his assistant had gone. Harvey was also gone, reemerging from the bedroom in a bathrobe. “You seem like a cool girl, not one of those bimbos walking around here,” he began.
The rest of the story sounds redundant now. I reached for the perfunctory “thank you but I have a boyfriend.” He took my hand and simulated oral sex, showcasing his prowess at the craft with his eyes closed, tongue circling my palm. When I jerked my hand away, he asked if I’d rather do that to him. No? What about taking a shower together? I got up to go, and he blocked the door.
I’ve wondered why I didn’t try harder to leave. The most honest answer I can come up with is that it felt rude for me to do so. Here was a nude, middle-aged man, clutching his erect penis, professing his admiration and radiating insecurity. “Is it because I’m fat?” he asked. My body was suspended in time, waiting for my mind to improvise a clinical assessment of my circumstance: If I bolted for the door, would he grab my hair from behind and pin me down? He could be vile, but I would never be unseemly. I chose de-escalation and brokered the terms of this bizarre transaction. I took my shirt off, crossed my arms, and stood silently while he talked to himself and masturbated…