Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison, a result that just one year ago seemed impossible. The idea that a powerful, wealthy, white man could be held accountable in any way for his actions also felt like a fantasy to Weinstein’s many victims. In the wake of his sentencing, the women who spoke out against Weinstein have been sharing their relief and mild surprise over the outcome.
Tarale Wulff, who was raped by Weinstein in 2005, shared her reaction to the trial prior to the sentencing. As she noted in her statement, Wulff was not allowed under New York State law to offer a victim impact statement but intended to be present at the courthouse to hear the judge’s statement in person, along with other victims. “I hope that the sentence sends a clear message that times have changed and that more women need to speak out for themselves and that men and women need to speak out for others,” Wulff wrote on Medium, “The conversation must continue.”
On Twitter, Weinstein’s name was trending, as accusers, allies, and reporters applauded the women who testified, many expressing surprise at the sentence. Rosanna Arquette sent several tweets of “gratitude” to lawyers, Judge James Burke, and Rose McGowan for their work. But Arquette reserved a special kind of energy for Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lawyer writing, “Please Shut up Donna Rotunno the only obscene and obnoxious person here is you. He got what he deserved because he’s a rapist.” Mira Sorvino “cried tears of amazement” and also expressed her gratitude over the sentence.
Those who had spoken out were grateful to have been heard and to have been believed (in some cases). They were grateful for the outcome of this trial. This mass amount of gratitude is an unsettling reminder that few expected for Weinstein to face any consequences, or see any form of justice. “We need to show self-love and empathy to overcome centuries of illogical thinking that has normalized the sexual mistreatment of women,” Tarale Wulff wrote in a statement. For some women, a sentence of 23 years may be the start of a healing process. But the shadow of what it took to get will still linger long after Weinstein wheels his way to his cell.