Noted feminist attorney Lisa Bloom — the daughter of famed feminist lawyer Gloria Allred — traded integrity for self-serving power in the case of Harvey Weinstein.
The one-time ally of women emerges in the book as a self-serving, movement-betraying player, offering to turn the depths of her knowledge of victimology against the women accusing Weinstein of horrendous behavior.
Referencing one of Weinstein’s earliest accusers, actress Rose McGowan, Bloom told the director: “I feel equipped to help you against the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them.”
She went on in the letter to lay out a plan that would see Weinstein’s accusers publicly smeared while the director himself feigned contrition.
Bloom suggested a “counterops online campaign to push back” against McGowan’s claims and brand her a “pathological liar,” while Weinstein would do interviews insisting his mother’s passing had caused him to “evolve” on women’s issues.
And what would she get in return for betraying her life’s work? “Bloom’s initial payment for assisting the man who would become the reviled symbol for the unchecked abuse of power was $50,000.”
The story painted in “She Said” is one that plays out every day, all across the globe. And it leaves many women wondering how any woman can in good conscience actively serve the very systems that harm all women.
In fact, some point to this very dynamic as proof that sexists systems are not sexist at all: “How could Alabama’s restrictive abortion legislation be anti-woman when it was signed into law by a female governor? How could President Trump’s administration have a problem with women when he had hired Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders into such prominent positions?”
Women supporting a cause does not inherently mean the cause is pro-woman, Hesse noted. After all, there were plenty of women who lobbied against granting women the right to vote. Why would they do this? Because many were “wealthy white society matrons who feared that winning the vote for all women would water down the unofficial power they’d scraped together for themselves.”
And this is where Bloom’s offer to help Weinsten sets her apart from any other attorney who might offer similar advice to man in need of reputational damage control.
She took intimate knowledge of the suffering women face at the hands of individuals like Weinstein, and she sought to turn it against them.
“She knew how accusers can be portrayed as crazy — “increasingly unglued,” was the phrase she used when detailing how they would frame Rose McGowan for the general public,” Hesse wrote. “Lisa Bloom knew everything that would happen to Weinstein’s victims if they executed her plan, and she wrote that memo anyway.”
Bloom has since apologized and insisted her involvement was a “colossal mistake,” Hesse noted. But is that enough? It seems more a bandaid, set out to stanch a gaping wound from which integrity and trust now escape the attorney’s work.
“I couldn’t stop marveling over how much Bloom seemed to relish her role as Harvey Weinstein’s adviser,” Hesse wrote of reading about Bloom’s role in the saga. “How heady all that power must have seemed.”
“As a women’s rights advocate, I have been blunt with Harvey and he has listened to me,” she proposed as one public statement. In the next sentence, she mentioned a movie project Weinstein was going to help her get made.
It’s funny how some women talk about “women’s rights,” when what they really mean is, “me.”
Read Bloom’s full memo to Harvey Weinstein: